Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
My cat, Hobson, is 19 years old and we know from the last time he went to the vet that he has failing kidneys and he also has severe arthritis. Recently it has been very hot and our AC is broken. He is drinking excessively and yowling all the time. We know there is nothing that will stop him from dying but is there anything we could do to ease his pain? Anything would be helpful!
Thomas: Well, Maggie, it’s not unusual for cats to develop arthritis as they age. In fact, we know a little something about how to deal with arthritis in cats because of our beloved Siouxsie…
Bella: … May she frolic forever in the catnip-filled fields on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.
Tara: I wish I’d gotten to know Siouxsie. She sounds like she was a great cat.
Thomas: Siouxsie sent you to us, Tara, so you didn’t totally miss knowing her.
Bella: In any case, there are definitely some things you can do to ease Hobson’s pain.
Tara: First of all, we recommend a heated cat bed like the one Siouxsie is resting in at the top of this post. Arthritis in cats responds really well to heat, because it helps to ease the stiffness and aching.
Thomas: Siouxsie had pretty severe arthritis by the end of her life, too, so Mama learned a lot about how to help her feel better.
Bella: Pain medication is an option, too. Some vets will recommend NSAIDs like meloxicam (Metacam), but these are not necessarily a good option in cats because they can cause liver damage.
Tara: That may not be such a big deal with an elder kitty, because you’re looking for quality of life for the time you have left together.
Thomas: But our vet prescribed buprenorphine, an opioid painkiller, for Siouxsie’s arthritis because it was quite severe and causing her a lot of pain.
Bella: Your vet can provide you with syringes with the appropriate dose in a liquid form that you can give to your cat.
Tara: But they’ll probably also recommend that you take the prescription to a compounding pharmacy, where they can put the medicine in a tasty liquid that will make it palatable to your cat.
Thomas: Arthritis in cats responds really well to this drug, and it would go a long way toward making Hobson feel better.
Bella: Mama says there’s a little bit of rigmarole to go through when it comes to getting buprenorphine, but it’s not that much of a problem. You just have to show your ID when you’re getting the medicine because it’s an opioid, and even though it’s not for you, the legalities with opioid prescriptions still apply.
Tara: Another good treatment for arthritis in cats is acupuncture. If you can find a veterinary acupuncturist, most cats respond well to the treatment since it’s essentially painless.
Thomas: Once you’ve got her on a pain-relieving regimen, light to moderate exercise on soft surfaces will help Hobson maintain his muscle mass and help stabilize the joints that are affected by the arthritis.
Bella: Some cats with milder arthritis can be helped by glucosamine and chondroitin supplements. These supplements are supposed to stop the loss of the tissue between the joints, so they’re definitely better for milder cases. They don’t repair the damage that’s already been done.
Tara: Before Siouxsie’s arthritis got really severe, Mama used Canna Companion, a natural hemp supplement with chemicals called CBDs, which helped to ease her pain without making her high.
Thomas: Honestly, there are a lot more options for treating arthritis in cats than there used to be, and we’d strongly recommend that you talk with your vet about pain control. At age 19, quality of life is key.
Bella: We don’t know what your cat’s last blood work looked like, but we suspect the yowling may be due to hyperthyroidism, which is easily treated by a drug called methimazole.
Tara: We’d recommend that you tell your vet about the yowling, because it is a pretty common symptom of hyperthyroidism.
Thomas: Basically, at this point in your cat’s life, you want to make sure that he has all the pain control he needs. It will make a huge difference!
Bella: Best of luck to you and Hobson. We hope you enjoy his golden years together and that you cherish every minute you have with him.
Tara: What about you other readers? Do you have other ideas for the treatment of arthritis in cats? What has your vet done to help your arthritic kitty? Please share your thoughts in the comments!