What can I give my cat for arthritis pain?
Original Question: Good morning, I have a 14-year-old Tabby cat and for the past couple of years she has a limp in her right arm at the joint. We've had her x-rayed and discovered it was arthritis. The vet put her on Metacam and I do have her on a daily dosage of glucosamine. The Metacam did help in the beginning but her limp seems to be getting worse again. She has been on this Metacam for a year now and I have had her back at the vet after six months to have her kidneys checked and so far her kidney functions are good. My question, is there something else I can give her that wouldn’t pose a problem to her kidneys? Thank you and I love your radio show! - Rita
Thanks for your question.
It’s good that you’ve been watching the kidney values in the situation. The drug you mention is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication that can have negative side effects on renal function.
I would suggest that you speak to your veterinarian about a class of drugs called opioids. There are painkillers for cats’ that can alleviate the discomfort of arthritis pain. It’s important to know that these drugs don’t eliminate the inflammation, which means they can’t stop the damage in the joint but they are typically the drug of choice for arthritis in cats because anti-inflammatories can have such negative side effects.
When my elderly cat had arthritis I used a product I really love which is in the category of drugs called Polysulfated Glycosaminoglycans, or PSGAGs. This is a series of injections under the skin given over the course of a few weeks that can reduce the inflammation for months going forward without having to continue the injections. I find that it is cost-effective and can work really well with little to no side effects or risk. Be sure to ask your veterinarian about this option.
As a last note, I would also encourage you to adapt the environment to make it easier for your cat. I would consider buying a litter box that has a low rim around it so they don’t need to step over a high wall and by creating one that has a large surface area they don’t have to angle their body into an uncomfortable position inside the box. If your cat likes to go up on elevated surfaces like couches or beds, I would consider buying low benches that would act like steps so that there is less impact on the joints when climbing up or down from these surfaces. Laying down carpet on hardwood floors or runners so that your cat has traction would reduce the risk of slipping and furthering the damage in the joints.
I hope this helps and good luck.
Dr. Clayton Greenway
Disclaimer: healthcareforpets.com and its team of veterinarians and clinicians do not endorse any products, services, or recommended advice. All advice presented by our veterinarians, clinicians, tools, resources, etc is not meant to replace a regular physical exam and consultation with your primary veterinarian or other clinicians. We always encourage you to seek medical advice from your regular veterinarian.