Pain Relief for Cats With Arthritis

Reduce or Eliminate Your Cat's Arthritis Pain

Photo of Cat of the Week Calypso
© Pat Wolesky

Arthritis is a disease that affects joints and can cause pain and discomfort; it is just as painful in cats as it is in people. Fortunately, there are a number of effective approaches to minimizing arthritic pain and helping your cat to enjoy his or her favorite activities.

How to Recognize Arthritis in a Cat

While it's very important to relieve your pet's pain, cats tend to hide the signs of their pain quite effectively, making it difficult to decide whether treatment is necessary. Some signs that can point to arthritis are a change in your cat's behavior and activity. For example, if an older cat is more hesitant to climb stairs or jump from a table to the floor, it may be suffering from feline arthritis.

If you are in doubt about whether your cat is in pain, it's best to speak with your veterinarian, who can assess the cat and share some suggestions on how to help manage the pain and ease your cat's discomfort. 

Keep Your Arthritic Cat Lean

Allowing an arthritic cat to become overweight places additional strain on already painful joints. In addition, fat cells themselves secrete hormones that contribute to the development of pain. Regulating your cat's diet and encouraging regular exercise are the best ways to maintain your cat's body weight.

  • If your cat overeats, you'll need to ration the amount of food you provide each day.
  • Interactive play with your cat can encourage exercise. Experiment with different types of toys to find out which ones your cat prefers and keeps your cat the most active.
  • Food puzzles which require your cat to work to be fed are also a great way to encourage exercise and provide stimulation and enjoyment for your cat.

If your cat is already overweight, your veterinarian can help you plan a successful weight control program that will return him to his ideal body weight.

Pain Relief Medicines for Feline Arthritis

It's best to work with your veterinarian to discuss pain relief treatments for your cat. Depending on the cat's situation, the doctor may prescribe prescription pain relief. A common prescription treatment for feline arthritis is non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs can be very effective at controlling pain and inflammation of joints. Pet owners need to be cautious when administering medication, and they should always be used as prescribed by a veterinarian to avoid the risk of side effects. Common side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, or not eating. If you notice any of these side effects, it's best to call your veterinarian right away. 

Other options for an arthritic cat include dietary supplements, such as glucosamine, chondroitin, and Omega-3 fatty acids. These supplements help support the joints and should be used with a veterinarian's approval.  

Alternative Therapies for Cats with Arthritis

There are a few alternative therapies that work quite well for some cats in reducing arthritis pain. These therapies include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Laser therapy

In many cases, these medications and techniques can be combined to provide more effective pain relief for an arthritic cat. These alternative methods are risk-free for your cat, though they may be costly.

Please note: This article has been provided for informational purposes only. If your pet is showing any signs of illness, please consult a veterinarian as quickly as possible.