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Using Diet to Treat Arthritis in Cats

Are you looking for simple ways to help care for your cat's arthritis? Today, our Carlsbad vets will explain how a change in diet can help treat arthritis in cats.

Arthritis in Cats

Approximately 20% of cats of all ages will suffer from painful osteoarthritis in one or more joints. Osteoarthritis increases with age.

Since cats are living longer, it is more likely that every cat owner will face the issue of osteoarthritis at some point.

Nutritional science reveals that pet owners can make a huge impact on the quality of life of cats with osteoarthritis by carefully choosing appropriate nutrient profiles, depending on what your cat needs.

Your Cat & Arthritis

Cats, like humans, can also suffer from painful arthritis. Some studies have shown that as cats age, the incidence of arthritis increases. In fact, X-rays have revealed that around 90% of cats over the age of 12 show evidence of arthritis in one or more joints. 

With cats living longer than ever before, it is becoming increasingly likely that every cat owner will eventually have to deal with this issue. 

However, there is good news. Nutritional science has shown that pet owners can greatly improve the quality of life for their arthritic cats by selecting an appropriate diet tailored to their cat’s specific needs.

How Diet Can Help With Your Cat's Arthritis

Diet can play a crucial role in managing a cat osteoarthritis by controlling their weight. Recent research has shed light on the significant impact of fat accumulation in overweight and obese cats with arthritis. This fat not only adds extra stress to their joints, but also releases inflammatory hormones, intensifying inflammation and causing additional pain. 

Consequently, weight and obesity play a more crucial role in the development and progression of arthritis in cats than previously believed.

But ensuring a healthy body weight for cats is usually not your only concern. The aim is to also assist them in burning fat while maintaining or increasing muscle mass. Consulting with your veterinarian should help you select a good diet for your cat. It can also help with daily portion control.

Additionally, certain dietary supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids and glucosamine, can have anti-inflammatory properties and promote joint lubrication, further aiding in managing arthritis symptoms in cats. Your vet should be able to make some recommendations on 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. With the reduced weight, there will be less stress on their joints, resulting in increased mobility and reduced pain. Additionally, your cat may also experience improved overall health and energy levels, as maintaining a healthy weight has numerous benefits for their overall well-being. 

Exercise for for Your Cat

A good diet combined with regular exercise is always a good idea to help manage your cat's weight. However, you don't want to put excessive strain on the joints with vigorous exercises. Low-impact exercises are ideal for managing arthritis in cats.

Low-impact exercises, such as controlled walking or swimming, can be beneficial for managing a cat's weight. Incorporating interactive toys that encourage movement, such as puzzle feeders or laser pointers, can also help while minimizing stress on the joints. 

Signs Your Cat Is Overweight

Try these tips to help determine whether your cat is overweight.

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 slightly feel their ribs 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.

Recommended Diet for Cats

Cat osteoarthritis treatment can heavily rely on diet. First, confirm with your veterinarian about a weight loss plan for your cat if they are obese. Cat food for arthritis should aim at keeping them lean.

Your cat will need sufficient protein to maintain muscles that support the joints. The objective is to reduce fat on the cat, not muscle.

Something that is recommended for joint issues is fish oil supplements. The omega-3 fatty acid has been shown to have a beneficial effect on joint health. The downside is it does add calories which can undo the desired weight loss in the diet. We recommend consulting with your vet to find the right nutritional balance to try and manage their condition.

Is your cat's diet impacting their quality of life? Contact our Carlsbad vets today to have your feline friend treated.

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Carlsbad Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced veterinary team would love to get to know you and your pet. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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