As your cat ages, his joints may get stiff and you may be looking for home remedies for cat arthritis. Arthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, generally takes place in older cats as years of wear and tear start having an impact on the cat’s joints. Affected cats may appear stiff, have trouble jumping up on their favorite sleeping spots and they may have a hard time grooming themselves as they’re no longer flexible as before. Generally, arthritis is much easier to detect in dogs as they get lame, but in cats it can sometimes be tricky as they tend to modify their lives to adjust to the pain rather than showing visible signs.
Avoid Human Pain Killers
First and foremost a warning about human pain killers and cats. Each year countless pet owners reach out for over-the-counter medications used for pain in humans. These owners may assume that if they’re safe for humans, they must be safe for pets. Instead, painkillers for humans such as Tylenol, aspirin and Ibuprofen can be deadly in cats! According to veterinarian Dr Fiona, just one regular strength Tylenol or Advil could kill a cat!
Shed Some Pounds
The lighter your cat, the less strain those extra pounds will put on his joints. Shedding a few pounds can help lighten the load and give your cat some deserved relief. Cats weren’t meant to be obese, in the wild felines are walking, hunting and chasing. Keeping cats indoors with little to do often leads to eating too much and not exercising enough. Simply cutting on table scraps and reducing caloric intake can make a difference and can prevent other diseases associated with being overweight such as diabetes. Consult with your vet for individual dietary recommendations for your cat.
Along with cutting out food, cats benefit from regular exercise. Despite what you may think, regular exercise is good for pets with arthritis. Not only do cats get slimmer with exercise, but they are happier too. Encourage your cat to play with a ball or an interactive toy, spread his kibble around the house so he must search for his food, and if feasible, take your cat on a walk. Your cat doesn’t have to walk perfectly on the leash, just let him decide the course. Invest in a harness for cats as most cats can easily wriggle their way out of a collar.
Provide Warm Beds
Arthritic pets are uncomfortable sleeping on a hard floor, especially when it starts getting cold. Many cats and dogs get up stiff upon waking up and getting up from a hard, cold surfaces. Switch instead to something soft. If you want to pamper your cat, provide a warm fleece blanket or even better, get him an orthopedic bed or a safe heated bed.
Give Heat Therapy
Achy joints benefit from the application of heat. Skip the heating pad though as that’s risky as it can easily burn a cat’s delicate skin. Also, consider that cats who are arthritic may not move away to let you know they feel hot as they normally would. Instead, try using a bottle filled up with warm water wrapped in a towel, or soak a wash rag in warm water, wring it out, place in an unzipped zip-lock bag and apply over sore area. You can apply the heat twice a day for about 15 minutes, suggests veterinarian Dr. Sue Stephens in the book “The Doctor’s Book of Home Remedies for Dogs and Cats.”
Give a Massage
Massage isn’t good only for humans. Chances are, your achy cat may love a massage too. Try kneading with gentle circular motions starting from the painful area and then moving a few inches away from it and then back to the sore area, suggests Dr. Robert Montgomery. The massage not only will feel good but will also likely make your cat more relaxed.
Make Life Easier
Cats with arthritis often struggle jumping to their favorite sleeping spots as their hips and back are often affected. If your elderly cat has a hard time climbing on the couch or on his favorite chair, consider helping him out by putting a step so he can use it to climb back to his favorite areas. You can use an old stool or a book next to his favorite perches to help him out.
When joints are achy from arthritis, the bones rub against each other which is painful. Glucosamine is a natural supplement that helps lubricate the joints so that there is less friction and provides relief while improving mobility. Glucosamine supplements are to be given daily for the rest of the cat’s life. Many glucosamine supplements come with chondroitin sulfate which further makes the glucosamine effective. Improvement is generally seen after several weeks. A popular brand of glucosamine is Cosequin for cats which comes in a tasty tuna flavor and can be sprinkled on meals. Another popular brand is Dasuquin.
Omega Fatty Acids
Omega fatty acids are beneficial to cats suffering from arthritis because they have an anti-inflammatory effect. Fish oil contains omega fatty acids EPA and DHA and is often readily accepted by cats. Avoid using cod liver oil though as it’s too rich in vitamin A and D, warns veterinarian Dr. B. As with glucosamine, omega fatty acids may take some time to take effect just as the glucosamine. Ask your vet for dosages and recommendations.
This Indian spice has become increasingly popular because it helps people with arthritis and is also known for its anti-cancer properties. In arthritic cats it helps wonderfully too. Veterinarian Dr Fiona recommends giving 1/4 teaspoon daily for a cat. According to Mission Animal Hospital, turmeric works best if given on an empty stomach and along with fish oil.
See Your Veterinarian
Some cats may require prescription pain medications. Cats suffering from arthritis may benefit from Carthophen/Adequan injections. Metacam is a prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that can given to cats, but may cause side effects and it can’t be given to cats with kidney problems.