Friday, April 16, 2010

New Help for Arthritic Cats

Clinical studies have shown that 22-64% of all cats and 90% of cats older than 12 years have changes indicative of arthritis on radiographs (xrays). As with most health matters, cats can be suffering without showing symptoms, or with symptoms that are subtle enough to be dismissed by their owners.

Unfortunately, there is no FDA approved long-term medication for feline arthritis. Anti-inflammatory drugs are considered to be "off-label" for cats as there has not been sufficient formal studies showing their efficacy for cats. That being said, veterinarians have been successfully using these medicines in lower dosages for cats for years. However, recent clinic studies by veterinary diet manufacturers have shown that changes to diet can also help improve the quality of life in an arthritic cat.

Hill's Veterinary Diets is the first manufacturer to offer a feline joint support formula in the United States. The results of their clinic trials showed that cats fed the j/d diet showed reduced joint pain and swelling in 28 days with signs of increasing activity beginning as early as 14 days. During the clinical study, 32 cats who had shown signs of lameness as well as arthritis on their radiographs showed a 49% increase in activities compared to other cats not being fed the j/d diet. Cats who were fed j/d also saw an increase in their range of motion along with the decreased pain and swelling. As if that weren't impressive enough, the Hill's studies further showed that the j/d diet has been proven to stop the cartilage from deteriorating further.

Because arthritis mainly affects older cats who are susceptible to other age-related conditions, Hill's has combined the omega-3 fatty acids with a controlled phosphorous to maintain kidney health. The diet also contains high carnitine levels which helps to burn fat and maintain lean muscle mass.

The Scottsdale Cat Clinic now carries the Hill's Feline j/d formula both in cans and dry. Please contact us if you think your cat would benefit from this change in her diet.

Here are some common symptoms that might indicate your cat may be starting to develop arthritis:
*Unusual sleep patterns
*Eliminating outside the litter box
*Avoiding interaction with people or other pets in the household
*Not wanting to be stroked or brushed
*Decreased grooming
*Reluctance or inability to jump as high as once able to, or unwilling to go up stairs
*Reluctance to jump down or landing ungracefully or with difficulty
*Decrease or change in play
*Stiff gait or lameness

If you notice any of these types of symptoms, please take your cat in for a full exam with your veterinarian. Many of these symptoms could also be indicative of other conditions as well.