I think my cat has arthritis. What test will confirm this and what are some treatment options beside NSAIDs?
Original Question: My 20-year-old cat I believe has arthritis. I have not taken her to the vet because our vet quit and we recently spent a lot of money for an emergency asthma attack caused by accidental cleaning chemical use in the house 6 months ago. She's been fine since. We had full work-up done on her as they did not know what was wrong with her, including an echocardiogram, chest X-rays etc. All good. So money is an issue currently. My cat started limping about a week now on her back leg it seems, especially after sleeping. She misses the litter box sometimes when peeing even though she is in the box and is not playing anymore. She eats well, goes to litter box and will still follow us around but only briefly before she goes to lay down again. I have her on glucosamine HCL, chondroitin, methylsulfonylmethane and I have a soft bed for her. She is definitely not overweight, and I try to get her up and moving for short periods of time. Is there anything else I can do for her to reduce the pain/inflammation without having to go down the NSAIDs route assuming this is arthritis? I'm concerned that they may be too harsh on her kidneys at her age and I’m looking for more of an acute treatment for her. I think my current glucosamine treatment may be good for the long term but it’s not doing too much for her in the short term. If I can find her a good vet, what tests can I expect at a bare minimum and treatment options so that I know that the new vet is not wasting my money and my time? Thanks very much. - Markus
Thanks for your question.
I think it’s worth confirming that this is actually arthritis so performing radiographs would be a good idea. Most practitioners try to avoid NSAIDs in cats so instead they use painkillers which I would name but my license prevents me from doing so. I would recommend that you speak with your current veterinarian or your new veterinarian about this as an option, but I strongly recommend you diagnose the condition first. Consider the scenario where you are administering all of these products and it actually isn’t the right condition. It would be unfortunate.
I hope this helps.
Dr. Clayton Greenway
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