Does Miss Kitty not get around like she used to? Does she “miss” the litter box for reasons that elude you? Have the days of joyous wind sprints long passed? It’s easy for pet parents to attribute uncharacteristic calmness to “old age” or laziness, but the truth is Miss Kitty might be suffering from Osteoarthritis. In fact, the odds that she is are staggering.
Veterinary researchers estimate that 45% of all cats, 60% of cats over age 6, and 90% of cats over age 10 are affected by arthritis in some way, according to the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.
“Identifying OA in felines can be extremely difficult for pet parents,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice. “Cats hide pain well and tend not to vocalize. Nor do they typically limp. They will continue to do the same activities they always have, albeit more slowly. Left unchecked, OA pain can significantly decrease a cat’s quality of life.”
Pet Parents can use this checklist to help identify feline OA:
- Does your cat jump up normally?
- Does your cat jump down normally?
- Does your cat climb up stairs or steps normally?
- Does your cat climb down stairs or steps normally?
- Does your cat run normally?
- Does your cat chase moving objects (toys, prey, etc.)?
If you answer “no” to any of these questions, visit your veterinarian.
Treatment for OA in cats is multimodal, and typically includes anti-inflammatory and pain medications, nutraceuticals, dietary and environmental adjustments such as:
- Soft, padded/heated bedding
- Raised food and water dishes (elbow height)
- Low-entry litter box
- A ramp or stool/step for getting onto higher surfaces
However, administering oral medication to felines is a challenge for pet parents. The FDA has just approved a new monthly injection that may help in the quest to bring Miss Kitty back to her former playful self.
Solensia is predicted to be a game-changer because it uses monoclonal antibody therapy to target the Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), which is a driver of OA pain, according to manufacturer Zoetis.
Solensia has been available to European veterinarians since 2021 and will be on the market through U.S. veterinarians later this year.
Help your Kitty make a comeback by watching for, and creating a treatment plan for feline OA.