Osteoarthritis in cats: a small miracle on the horizon

Cat osteoarthritis: a little miracle on the horizon


It has long been known that the vast majority of cats over the age of 12, about 90%, have osteoarthritis. These lesions are visible on radiography. In short, our aging companions have at least one of their joints that hurts them, or maybe more. Although treating and relieving osteoarthritis in cats has always been a challenge, there seems to be hope with the advent of a new treatment. 

Osteoarthrosis is a degenerative, progressive and chronic condition of a joint. Wear and tear… The prevalence of this disease increases with age, however, there are already radiographic signs of osteoarthrosis in nearly 60% of cats over 6 years old. 

< p>But cats suffer in silence. It seems that only 4% of owners are aware of their pain.  

The symptoms of osteoarthritis are insidious and progressive and the cat will not tend to limp when suffering from this joint disease. Symptoms are more subtle to the less discerning eye. Certainly, the cat will tend to move less and less and reduce these activities. He will move less or appear to have a somewhat stiff gait, as if walking on eggshells. He won't play anymore. He will hesitate to jump on a piece of furniture or will no longer do so. He will have more difficulty climbing the stairs and may only do so if it is really necessary.

A cat that has joint pain may also groom less and its coat will be less shiny or more “cottony”. 

Because of the pain, many cats can also have potty training problems. Accidents, like peeing out of the litter box, can happen because the cat has difficulty getting in, getting in, or bending down enough.

We will also see changes in attitude or character in the suffering cat. Some will isolate themselves and decrease their social closeness while others may become more irritable or even aggressive.

Since cats are secretive with pain, tools have been created to help determine if a cat is in pain. See one of my columns in The Journal on the facial grimace scale here.

The treatment of osteoarthritis is a multimodal approach. With the veterinary team, you have to work on several levels at the same time to achieve good pain control. Here are some tips.

  1. Modify the animal's environment to make things easier for it.
  2. Offer food specialist veterinarian for osteoarthritis as well as certain supplements (glucosamine, chondroitin, essential fatty acids, etc.).
  3. Making overweight cats lose weight.
  4. Add physiotherapy sessions and even acupuncture by veterinarians with the expertise.
  5. Have cats take appropriate veterinary medications (painkillers, anti-inflammatories, etc.).

New treatment

It sounds simple, but it is not always easy to medicate a cat, as they are very sensitive to several drug molecules. Veterinarians have therefore always had fewer treatment options for cats than for dogs. 

However, recently, a new treatment has appeared for the management of pain related to osteoarthritis in the cat and it seems to work small miracles. 

This is a monthly treatment, by subcutaneous injection, of monoclonal antibodies that target a protein (NGF) that is involved in the regulation of pain, thus preventing the pain signal from getting to the brain and the cat from “smelling” or perceiving the pain. 

Talk to your veterinarian! Cats finally have “their” treatment for osteoarthritis.