Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
How do I alleviate arthritis and other old age conditions in my 15-year-old Himalayan cat? She’s moving very slowly and sleeping much more than usual. She stopped sleeping with me and going outside with me at night. I’ve never had a Himmy live this long so I’m feeling blessed to have her.
Siouxsie: The Himalayan is a very unique and beautiful breed — a cross between Siamese and Persian that produces a cat with elegant, long fur, a squishy little face, and colored heads, legs and tails.
Thomas: Since you say you’ve never had a Himmy live this long, I take it you’ve been enjoying the company of Himalayans for a long time — which means you probably already know about the diseases that can affect the breed.
Dahlia: First, Patty, we always recommend a visit to the veterinarian when your cat’s behavior changes. This is especially important as cats get on into their geriatric years.
Siouxsie: Who are you calling geriatric there, you little runt? I may be 15, but I can still kick your tail!
Thomas: Come on, Siouxsie, be nice to Dahlia. Besides, you know she means well.
Thomas: Anyway, Patty, your visit to the veterinarian will help you to know more about what’s going on as far as arthritis or any other age-related conditions that may be setting in.
Dahlia: There are some nutritional supplements you can give your kitty that might help to relieve arthritis pain. Glucosamine and chondroitin is a pretty well-known supplement that even humans use for that purpose. As an extra bonus, glucosamine-chondroitin supplements for cats usually come in very tasty forms.
Siouxsie: My favorite glucosamine-chondroitin treat is Zuke’s Cat Hip Action. It’s made in the United States and it comes in two flavors — chicken and salmon. Sometimes I need a little more help to ease the discomfort, thought, and that’s when Mama gives me a supplement called MSM (that’s short for Methylsulfonylmethane). Here’s more information about MSM and what it does.
Thomas: Another awesome way to help your achy kitty is to get her a heated cat bed. These come in electric (with a mini-heating pad inside), non-electric with microwaveable inserts, and non-electric with heat-reflective fabric. An electric bed will shut off when your cat isn’t in it, and warm up quickly when she curls up for a nap — but it won’t get so hot that it’ll burn her skin.
Dahlia: If your cat is having trouble hopping into your bed or up to her favorite perch, you can get stairs or ramps made just to help arthritic pets. These come in a wide variety of styles and price points, and they’re probably not too hard to make yourself if you have some DIY skills.
Siouxsie: Your cat is going to need more help than usual with her grooming as she gets sore and less flexible, so be sure to take as much extra time as you need to so you can keep her mat-free.
Thomas: If you want to know more about the special needs of senior cats, feel free to take a look at some of the other letters we’ve answered on the subject. And if you ever find yourself needing information that we haven’t shared yet, please feel free to write back!