Arthritis is a prevalent condition affecting cats, causing discomfort and joint pain. While there are several treatment options available, such as medication and physical therapy, one often overlooked approach is diet. Today, our veterinarians in Vancouver will explain how cat food can help manage arthritis.

Arthritis vs. Osteoarthritis in Cats

To avoid any confusion, let's differentiate between arthritis and osteoarthritis in cats. Arthritis is a general term that describes inflammation of the joints, while osteoarthritis specifically means the degeneration of joint cartilage and the underlying bone.

In this post, we will be discussing treatments for arthritis in cats only. We will not be discussing treatments for osteoarthritis in cats.

Your Cat & Arthritis

It is important to know that cats can suffer from arthritis like humans. As cats get older, they are more likely to develop arthritis, with around 90% of cats over the age of 12 showing signs of arthritis in one or more joints, according to studies. As cats are living longer now, most cat owners will likely have to deal with this issue at some point. However, there is hope. Nutritional science has shown that owners can significantly improve their arthritic cat's quality of life by selecting a specific diet tailored to their cat's needs.

How, exactly, can diet help with my cat's arthritis?

Managing a cat's arthritis requires paying close attention to their diet, which can play a crucial role in controlling their weight. Recent research has shown that overweight and obese cats with arthritis are significantly impacted by fat accumulation. This fat adds extra stress to their joints and releases inflammatory hormones, causing additional pain and intensifying inflammation. Therefore, maintaining a healthy weight is vital to managing arthritis in cats.

However, achieving a healthy body weight for cats is not the only concern. The goal is to help them burn fat while maintaining or increasing muscle mass. It is recommended to consult with a veterinarian to select an appropriate diet for your cat and help with daily portion control.

Certain dietary supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids and glucosamine, can have anti-inflammatory properties and promote joint lubrication, further aiding in managing cat arthritis symptoms. Your vet can recommend suitable supplements based on your cat's specific needs.

After successfully reducing your cat's weight, you can expect to see a significant improvement in their condition. Your cat will experience increased mobility and reduced pain with less stress on their joints. Maintaining a healthy weight also has numerous benefits for your cat's overall well-being, including improved energy levels and overall health.

What about exercise?

Maintaining a good diet and engaging in regular exercise can be beneficial for managing your cat's weight. However, avoiding putting excessive strain on their joints with high-impact exercises is important.

Low-impact exercises, like controlled walking or swimming, are ideal for managing cat arthritis. You can also incorporate interactive toys like puzzle feeders or laser pointers that encourage movement while minimizing stress on their joints.

How To Tell If Your Cat Is Overweight

To determine whether your kitty is overweight, try the tips below.

Look for Your Cat's Waistline

  • Look down from above at your cat while they are standing. Look for a small indentation just above your cat's hips, where their waist should be (this can be a bit tricky with long-haired cats). If you can't see their waist or if their sides are bulging, your cat is most likely carrying extra weight.

Feel for Your Cat's Ribs

  • When your cat is at a healthy weight, you should be able to feel their ribs slightly by gently running your hand along their chest. If you can't feel your cat's ribs, your cat may be overweight.¬†

Struggling to Jump

  • Cats are built to be quick runners and jumpers. If your cat has to try several times before jumping up onto their favorite piece of furniture, or if your cat gives up entirely, their weight could be the issue.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you suspect that your cat's arthritis may be due to their being overweight, get in touch with Mountain View Veterinary Hospital to schedule a check-up to ensure your cat's overall health and well-being.