September marks Animal Pain Awareness Month, a dedicated time to shed light on a crucial issue close to every pet owner's heart. At Countryside Veterinary Services, we're deeply committed to the well-being of our beloved feline companions.
Cats, renowned for their stoic nature, often conceal signs of pain, making it a challenge to recognize when they're suffering. Furthermore, many medications effective for pain management in other species may not be safe for cats. In this blog post, we explore the various facets of feline pain, from its types to identification and treatment options.
Just like humans and other animals, cats can experience different types of pain, broadly categorized into acute and chronic pain:
Degenerative joint disease (DJD), commonly known as feline arthritis, is a prevalent chronic pain issue among cats. DJD occurs when the cartilage, the protective connective tissue covering the ends of bones within a joint, deteriorates. This loss of cartilage in the joint leads to chronic and sometimes unbearable pain, drastically affecting a cat's quality of life.
DJD typically affects the lower back, elbows, knees, hips, shoulders, and hocks (similar to our ankles). Surprisingly, even young cats can develop DJD, though symptoms may not manifest until the condition worsens with age. Unlike dogs, cats with DJD usually don't limp, as the disease typically affects the same joint in both legs.
Identifying pain in cats can be challenging due to their innate ability to hide discomfort. To determine if your cat is in pain, watch for the following signs and symptoms:
Appetite and Weight Changes:
Changes in Litter Box Behavior:
At Countryside Veterinary Services, we offer a range of effective treatment options to address and manage cat pain:
These drugs are frequently employed to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation in cats. While the FDA has not granted approval for long-term NSAID use in cats, specific NSAIDs have been cleared for short-term relief. Your veterinarian may recommend robenacoxib in pill form, which is also available as an injectable. Alternatively, meloxicam, another NSAID, can be administered via injection, particularly following surgery, or as an oral liquid.
In some cases, your vet might suggest aspirin, but only in small, infrequent doses, often in liquid form. It's essential to adhere strictly to the recommended dosage, as cats require only a small amount, and excessive or frequent use can be harmful. Please avoid assuming the correct dosage, and never overuse NSAIDs for cats, as they are typically approved for a maximum of three days of use.
Officially approved for dogs and horses, this injectable drug can provide much-needed relief from joint pain. But here's the secret: it's also used safely in cats, addressing their joint discomfort effectively. Derived from cow tracheas and slightly modified for stability, Adequan is more like a nutraceutical than a traditional drug. It's considered safer than NSAIDs, but it's not without risks, though it's uncommon. Administered as a muscle injection (and inside the joint for horses) it is currently prescription-only.
Adequan has anti-inflammatory and cartilage-protecting properties. It likely inhibits enzymes that break down joint cartilage and increases joint fluid thickness. The usual treatment involves eight shots over four weeks. We will sometimes adjust the dose for cats with kidney or liver issues and we may reduce or eliminate NSAIDs or steroids if needed. This isn't necessarily a standard treatment option for cats, but we find that Adequan can be a safer alternative for managing pain and inflammation in cats. With our cats living longer, it's crucial to find effective, low-risk options. Don't hesitate to ask us about Adequan for your cat's comfort and well-being.
Solensia, developed by Zoetis, stands as the First and Only FDA-Approved Treatment for Controlling Osteoarthritis Pain in Cats. This monthly injection, administered at your veterinarian's office, effectively manages the pain your cat may endure due to OA. Solensia is designed to control OA pain in cats, restoring them to their usual state by enhancing mobility. It operates similarly to your cat's naturally produced antibodies, diminishing pain signals.
Prioritizing the health and comfort of our feline friends is paramount. This Animal Pain Awareness Month, we encourage you to consult the experts at Countryside Veterinary Services if you suspect your cat is in pain or discomfort. Our team will conduct a thorough evaluation and create a tailored pain management plan to ensure your cat enjoys a happy, pain-free life.
Lastly, please remember never to administer any medication to your cat without guidance from your veterinarian, including over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or aspirin, as they can be lethal to cats. Once a diagnosis is made, your veterinarian will guide you through a treatment plan, incorporating both medication and simple home adjustments to maintain your cat's normal behaviors.