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Diet as Cat Osteoarthritis Treatment

Arthritis is a common, but painful, joint condition in cats. Medications and physical therapy are frequently prescribed as treatment but, one approach that’s often overlooked is diet. Today, you will learn how cat food can help to manage your kitty's arthritis.

Arthritis vs. Osteoarthritis in Cats

First, to clear up any confusion, let’s discuss the difference between arthritis and osteoarthritis in cats. Arthritis is a general term that refers to inflammation of the joints, whereas osteoarthritis specifically refers to the degeneration of joint cartilage and the underlying bone.

In this post, we will be discussing treatments for arthritis in cats, not treatment for osteoarthritis in cats.

Your Cat & Arthritis

Cats, like humans, can also suffer from painful arthritis. Some studies have shown that as cats age, the incidence of arthritis increases. In fact, X-rays have revealed that around 90% of cats over the age of 12 show evidence of arthritis in one or more joints. 

With cats living longer than ever before, it is becoming increasingly likely that every cat owner will eventually have to deal with this issue. 

However, there is good news. Nutritional science has shown that pet owners can greatly improve the quality of life for their arthritic cats by selecting an appropriate diet tailored to their cat’s specific needs.

How, exactly, can diet help with my cat's arthritis?

Diet can play a crucial role in managing a cat's arthritis by controlling their weight. Recent research has shed light on the significant impact of fat accumulation in overweight and obese cats with arthritis. This fat not only adds extra stress to their joints but also releases inflammatory hormones, intensifying inflammation and causing additional pain. 

Consequently, weight and obesity play a more crucial role in the development and progression of arthritis in cats than previously believed.

But ensuring a healthy body weight for cats is usually not your only concern. The aim is to also assist them in burning fat while maintaining or increasing muscle mass. Consulting with your veterinarian should help you select a good diet for your cat. It can also help with daily portion control.

Additionally, certain dietary supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids and glucosamine, can have anti-inflammatory properties and promote joint lubrication, further aiding in managing arthritis symptoms in cats. Your vet should be able to make some recommendations on supplements based on your cat's specific needs.

After successfully reducing your cat's weight, you can expect to see a significant improvement in their condition. With the reduced weight, there will be less stress on their joints, resulting in increased mobility and reduced pain. Additionally, your cat may also experience improved overall health and energy levels, as maintaining a healthy weight has numerous benefits for their overall well-being. 

What about exercise?

A good diet combined with regular exercise is always a good idea to help manage your cat's weight. However, you don't want to put excessive strain on the joints with vigorous exercises. Low-impact exercises are ideal for managing arthritis in cats.

Low-impact exercises, such as controlled walking or swimming, can be beneficial for managing a cat's weight. Incorporating interactive toys that encourage movement, such as puzzle feeders or laser pointers, can also help while minimizing stress on the joints. 

How To Tell If Your Cat Is Overweight

To determine whether your kitty is overweight, try the tips below.

Look for Your Cat's Waistline

  • Look down from above at your cat while they are standing. Look for a small indentation just above your cat's hips, where their waist should be (this can be a bit tricky with long-haired cats). If you can't see their waist or if their sides are bulging, your cat is most likely carrying extra weight.

Feel for Your Cat's Ribs

  • When your cat is at a healthy weight, you should be able to slightly feel their ribs by gently running your hand along their chest. If you can't feel your cat's ribs, your cat may be overweight. 

Struggling to Jump

  • Cats are built to be quick runners and jumpers. If your cat has to try several times before jumping up onto their favorite piece of furniture, or if your cat gives up entirely, their weight could be the issue.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your kitty showing signs of arthritis? Our Gillette vets are here to help! Contact Red Hills Veterinary Hospital today to book an examination for your fluffy friend.

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