By Dr. Becker
A study1 conducted last year in the Netherlands suggests that cats with naturally occurring osteoarthritis show symptom improvement when their diets are supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids.
Sixteen arthritic cats were involved in the 10-week study. Some of the kitties received a fish oil supplement containing both EPA and DHA; others received a corn oil supplement with no EPA or DHA.
According to their owners, the cats receiving fish oil had less stiffness, higher activity levels, more stair climbing, higher jumping ability, and more interaction with family members than the cats who received corn oil.
Osteoarthritis and Cats
Osteoarthritis (OA) is becoming a more common diagnosis in kitties. Estimates are that about 20 percent of all adult cats and up to 65 percent of cats over the age of 12 have some degree of OA. The disease is progressive and most often occurs in the joints of the elbow and hip.
If you’re owned by a cat, you know your pet is good at masking discomfort and illness. Because cats are stoic, and because they are also light on their feet and agile, they typically don’t show the classic symptoms of joint discomfort. Instead, they exhibit behavioral changes including loss of appetite, weight loss, depression, lack of grooming, and urinating outside the litter box.
If you’re not sure your kitty has OA but she’s seems painful or is exhibiting behavioral changes, I recommend you pay a visit to your holistic vet to get her checked out. If she does have some joint degeneration and arthritis, there’s a lot you can do as her guardian to alleviate her symptoms and improve her quality of life.
Natural Therapies for Arthritic Kitties
In addition to a high quality omega-3 supplement (I recommend krill oil), there are a number of other supplements and healing modalities that can help alleviate arthritis symptoms in your cat, including:
- Veterinary chiropractic care. Chiropractic treatments are affordable and can be very effective in alleviating pain and reducing joint degeneration.
- Massage can reduce inflammation and pain in damaged tissues.
- Acupuncture and prolotherapy can be tremendously beneficial for kitties with degenerative joint disease.
- Adequan injections can stimulate joint fluid very rapidly in pets with arthritis.
- Adding certain supplements to your pet’s diet can provide the raw materials for cartilage repair and maintenance, among them:
- Glucosamine sulfate, MSM and Egg Shell Membrane
- Homeopathic Rhus Tox, Arnica and others that fit the cat’s symptoms
- Ubiquinol and turmeric
- Supergreen foods, such as Spirulina and Astaxanthin
- Natural anti-inflammatory formulas (herbs, proteolytic enzymes, such as Wobenzym® and nutraceuticals)
- EFAC complex
Other extremely important factors in your cat’s overall health and in preventing or alleviating the symptoms of OA include keeping your pet at a lean, healthy weight; feeding a balanced, species-appropriate diet; discontinuing annual vaccines (titer instead); and giving your kitty plenty of opportunities to be physically active throughout his life.
The following video is of Annie, a regular acupuncture patient (not mine). Annie is a 19 year-old cat with severe arthritis in her hips. This short video shows how calmly Annie sits on the table at her vet’s office with about 20 acupuncture needles inserted. Most cats tolerate acupuncture quite well, and it can really make a difference for kitties with arthritic conditions.