Friday, August 8, 2014

Managing cat arthritis

Eamon the cat has arthritis

Eamon is 13, and this poor guy has been dealing with back pain for about 3 years now. I've been keeping it under control with low-dose prednisone, but lately, he's been doing a significant amount of limping.

It's hard to catch cats limping, but Eamon developed a pretty distinctive head bob while he was on the run from one room to another. The smooth, sleek movements I was used to were replaced with a jerky, disjointed walk that just didn't seem natural.

In addition, he started claiming a spot in the middle of the room, where he could see the action, and then refusing to move for much of the day. I walked over him, the dogs jumped over him, the blind cat ran into him, and he really didn't move.

Eamon the cat asleep

As if that wasn't enough, he also developed a very strange posture when he was standing still. His back feet were nearly crossed, and it seemed painful for him to stand for long periods of time. If I took too long to put his food down, he'd lie down to wait. Same goes for petting. He would rather lie down for scratches, even if that meant the sessions didn't last very long.

The x-rays I saw at the veterinarian's office explained most of this to me. Eamon's elbows are absolutely riddled with changes attributed to arthritis, and his knees are also crunchy with debris. He also has a few spots of damage left over in his back from his previous injury.

In other words, he's in a lot of pain.

So we're trying an injectable medication called Adequan. Apparently, this stuff can help to boost cartilage repair, so it might be a good solution for this old guy. And we're adding in a one-time anti-inflammatory medication (Onsior) that has a good track record in providing pain relief.

If this doesn't work, on to the painkillers we go. But given the reaction some of my other cats have demonstrated when they were given big-time painkillers, I'm hoping it won't come to this.

But I am devoted to this guy, and I want him to stay as long as possible. So that means I do what I can to keep him comfortable. It's respite care, hospice-level treatment, and it's an important part of pet ownership. Even when it's hard, it's something we all have to do. They rely on us for that.

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