So your older cat is not jumping on the counter as much as they used to, sometimes this is a good thing but actually your cat may be in pain and having difficulty reaching the counter. In cats with arthritis both young and old the signs may be subtle. Maybe they are missing the mark when they jump, reluctant to jump or just hesitating more before a jump. Unlike dogs, cats are much more subtle with signs of osteoarthritis, they may show difficulty chasing moving objects, have difficult time climbing or descending the stairs or not running or walking as much as they used to. In dogs, the signs are much more in your face, they limp, they have trouble getting up or they just refuse to move, due to the small size of our feline friends, we may miss many of the subtle signs. One study showed that 90% of cats over 9 years old had radiographic changes consistent with arthritis, but most of these cats were not presented for this – the findings were made by xrays for other issues. Clearly these patients were living with chronic pain.
Traditional medical options for cats with degenerative joint disease (DJD) are very limited. We do not have an approved anti- inflammatory for long term use in cats in the United States, this is the mainstay of treatment for humans with arthritic changes to their joints.
As you are aware, our practice loves Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine and acupuncture is a wonderful, non medical option for arthritis. We are also excited by the results we have seen with stem cell therapy for DJD and will always recommend that procedure.
There is a new option now available, a medication called Solensia. Solensia is a biologic – a protein not a chemical- that is given as a monthly injection. Solensia is given once a month for a minimum of 2 months and then we monitor for return of clinical signs. Seventy seven percent of cats owners reported improvement in a 3 month study compared to 67% in the placebo group. Solensia works by injecting an antibody which reduces pain signals from nerves. The most common side effects reported were vomiting and injection site pain.
Please reach out to us if you feel that your cat may have arthritis, we can help.