Has your older cat begun to move more slowly? Maybe he is hesitant to run or climb stairs, or perhaps he no longer climbs up to what used to be his favorite perch. Arthritis, which involves the deterioration of cartilage in the joints and results in inflammation, is quite common in older cats. It can be quite painful, but there are ways to make your cat more comfortable.
One of the first things you'll want to do once your cat begins to display signs of arthritis is modify his environment so less jumping and climbing is required. Make sure the food, litter box, bed, toys and other cat items are all on one floor so your cat does not have to use the stairs. Consider lowering the height of any cat climbing toy you may have. If your litter box has tall sides, purchase a new one with shorter sides to make it easier for your cat to climb in and out.
Your vet can assess the severity of your cat's arthritis, and if he or she believes it is severe enough to cause your cat substantial pain, pain relieving medications can be prescribed. Do not give your cat an over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers intended for humans. Medications like Tylenol and Ibuprofen can cause serious side effects like liver damage and even death since cats metabolize medications differently than humans.
If your cat is overweight, the excess weight will put more strain on his joints. Losing weight will make your arthritic cat more comfortable. So talk to your vet about switching your cat to a low-calorie food for weight loss. Avoid giving your cat any extra treats or table scraps, as these tend to encourage weight gain.
Warming the joints can make them less painful. A good way to do this for your cat is to set up a heating pad with a blanket over it. Your cat will likely enjoy resting on the heating pad. Don't worry – he'll jump off when he gets too warm. The heat will loosen the joints, allowing your cat to move more freely. For fire safety reasons, make sure you only leave the heating pad on when you're home.
Arthritis can make an older cat uncomfortable. There is no cure, but there are plenty of ways to manage it. Talk to a vet from a company like Covington Veterinary Hospital PC to learn more about treating arthritis.