Does My Cat Have Feline Arthritis

by Jen

Our cat Spike, aged 9, has never been the brightest and most coordinated cat I have had. From an early age he has jumped on to things and missed. The rest of his family (5 related cats) are in reasonably good health, although several of them have had dental problems and have had all their teeth removed. They are all a healthy weight, other than his nephew, who is overweight.

All his life he has occasionally limped and I have made the assumption that he had jumped and missed because of his coordination issues. He eats well, is wormed regularly but is slightly underweight.

About 2 years ago he had all his teeth removed. About 12 months ago the vet mentioned that he has a slight heart murmur. About 7 months ago he began to be very stiff and started to limp all the time and I took him tot he vet. He isn't that active and he does not do a lot of jumping.

He has been seen by the vet who said that he could not find any obvious signs of arthritis around the joints, but Metacam was prescribed and this had improved his quality of life a lot. He moves more freely and has become more outgoing since his pain was brought under control.

He has always been quite timid and gets very stressed when he goes to the vets or if I have to forcibly medicate him (I mix the metacam with his food).

However, after a few days on Metacam he starts to get blood in his poop. So I take him off it and put him back on it when the limping starts again.

I have also started giving him cod liver oil occasionally, but I'm not sure of the right dose for him (he is
about 4 kilos).

I'm looking for advice...

1. Does he have arthritis as his joints are not swollen?
2. Is this the best way to use Metacam or are their other options?
3. What is the right dose of cod liver oil for cats.
4. Are their any other options for supplements?

Vet Suggestions Possible Case of Feline Arthritis

Hi Jen,

It sounds like you take exceptionally good care of your cats. They are lucky to have you!

In response to your questions:

1. Does he have feline arthritis as his joints are not swollen?

It is very possible that he has arthritis. Joint swelling is not always a symptom of arthritis in cats.

2. Is this the best way to use Metacam or are their other options?

Recent studies have shown that repeated use of Metacam in cats has been linked to an increase in the risk of kidney failure. It can still be prescribed on a case by case basis, but I think you are right to do everything in your power to use Metacam as infrequently as possible and at the lowest dose that is effective for your cat. You could also try another type of pain reliever (e.g., Tramadol) and see if that helps with his pain without the same risk of side effects.

3. What is the right dose of cod liver oil for cats.

For a cat weighing four kilos, I would recommend two ml of cod liver oil once daily.

4. Are their any other options for supplements?

Nutritional supplements aimed at joint health seem to be very effective for some, but not all cats that suffer from arthritis.

Look for products that contain glucosamine, often in combination with other ingredients. I frequently recommend a joint protectant called Dasuquin for my feline patients.


Jennifer Coates, DVM

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