Many people believe that arthritis in cats (or people) is a consequence of ageing. But this is not the case. The body is supposed to constantly repair itself but it must have the correct resources in order to do this effectively. When it doesn't is when degenerative diseases occur. Arthritis in older cats is common because they've been exposed to unhealthy lifestyle practices for longer.
Arthritis In Cats And How To Prevent It
Why is arthritis increasingly common in cats and how can we prevent it?
Please know - it's not normal for cats to suffer from arthritis or any degenerative joint disease.
Suffering from degenerative joint disease is an unnatural situation for cats or any other animal. This is because the body is designed to constantly repair and regenerate, assuming it is given the right resources to do so.
Most of the time arthritis in cats is a lifestyle disease and it could be prevented by offering your cat a more natural life experience.
Signs Of Arthritis In Cats
- He or she may have toileting accidents because getting in and out of the litter tray is too painful
- They may be noticeably less agile, less acrobatic in terms of jumping and accessing difficult locations.
- You may notice your cat is less willing to move in general
As cats are such supple, agile creatures, it is particularly distressing if they develop arthritis.
Older cats are more likely to be arthritic because they've been exposed to unhealthy living for many years ...
The reason we tend to see arthritis in older cats is because they've been exposed to unhealthy lifestyle practices for longer. These lifestyles have been unwittingly imposed on them by their loving owners, who of course think they're doing the best for their much loved cat.
These poor arthritic cats are often overweight for several reasons :
They Can't Exercise
Due to pain and inflammation in their joints, they are loathe to exercise. They'd rather lie in the sun. This is an attempt to provide themselves some pain relief via the sun's heat. Unfortunately they are not using up the calories they gain from food.
An unhealthy lifestyle causes toxins to build up and then get stored in body fat. Storing toxins in body fat gets them out of the way, preventing them from doing further damage to the cat’s joints, organs, muscles, skin and entire body.
The normal detoxifying mechanisms (mainly via the liver) are likely to be overloaded from a lifetime of unhealthy living. Then, because the cats are unable remove toxins naturally, the body resorts to storing them in fat.
This existing toxic overload is then compounded by the cumulative side effects of the long-term steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, nsaids, usually used as treatment for arthritis.
All these drugs do is attempt to reduce the symptoms of arthritis, whilst doing nothing to address the real cause of arthritis.
What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis is inflammation of the joints. The word arthritis stems from "arthro" meaning joint, and "itis" meaning inflamed.
There are several causes of arthritis including
- infection (infected arthritis)
- injury (post traumatic arthritis)
- wear and tear (degenerative osteoarthritis)
- autoimmune (rheumatoid arthritis)
Cats get into fights with other cats. As feline teeth are very sharp, a bite from another cat usually becomes infected, resulting in an abscess.
If the infection enters a joint, a very painful, infected arthritis is likely to develop. The joint will be hot, swollen and often too painful to touch. The cat will usually develop a temperature to encourage the immune system to speed up its attack on the invading organisms (mostly bacteria).
Viruses can also be involved in arthritis in cats, but this usually resolves itself.
Post Traumatic Arthritis
After accidents where bones have been broken and ligaments and tendons torn, the joint capsule may be damaged, allowing pathogens to enter the joint fluid and cause infection, pain and inflammation.
Surgical repair of the broken bone may also involve associated joints which could lead to arthritis.
If a joint is being used in an unnatural way, weaker areas of the joint surface may be exposed to excessive wear. This can damage the cartilaginous joint surface and cause arthritic change.
Such abnormalities can be the result of lameness, injury, developmental deformities or distortions during repair after trauma.
The surfaces of the bones forming the joints are covered in a layer of slippery, shiny articular cartilage to allow the bones to glide smoothly over one another without friction.
This cartilage is nourished by the joint fluid secreted into the joint space from the blood. The tough joint capsule seals the fluid inside the joint space forming a cushion so the articular cartilage doesn't actually touch anything.
The strength and integrity of both the joint capsule and this special cartilage are dependent upon the quality of nutrients in the joint fluid in which it is bathed.
The quality of nutrients in the blood inform joint fluid health. What your cat eats really matters!
This in turn depends on the quality of nutrients in the blood from which the joint fluid is formed and constantly replenished.
Whatever food the cat eats, digests, absorbs and uses determines the nutrients in the blood and consequently the health of the joint fluid, joint capsule and articular cartilage.
As the cartilage and capsule consist of living cells, they use nutrients and excrete waste products, just like all the other cells in the body. So the joint fluid has to provide the nutrients and remove the waste in order to maintain healthy, functional joints.
The amount of joint fluid within the capsule is critically important. Too much and the joint capsule will be painfully stretched. Too little and the articular cartilage will touch the articular cartilage on the other side of the joint causing pain and the erosion of the articular cartilage.
Autoimmune (Rheumatoid) Polyarthritis
Cats with immune systems compromised mostly by exposure to
- inappropriate food
- unfiltered water
- environmental toxins and
- electromagnetic pollution (Wi-Fi, mobile phones etc),
may suffer a degradation of the articular cartilage. This is because the damaged immune system has lost the ability to differentiate between invading organisms and healthy body tissue.
How Can We Prevent Arthritis In Our Cats?
Several things need to be addressed simultaneously to limit the chances of your cat developing arthritis.
The most important thing to do is remove the causative agents, identified earlier.
Filter your cat’s water, to enable proper hydration without increasing toxicity from the chemicals found in tap water.
Cats will rarely drink tap water due to the chemical content. They prefer to drink from rain water puddles or fish ponds. You see, fish die in tap water, so the water in a fish pond has to be clear of chemicals.
Feed Your Cat Raw Food
Feed your pet raw food, to prevent further accumulation of toxins contained in processed pet foods. Dry, kibble, biscuit "foods" are of course dehydrating.
As cats are naturally designed to obtain much of their fluid requirement from the raw prey they eat, it is not in their nature to drink very often.
Raw food - BARF - will also enable the much needed weight loss, as the cat will no longer need fat in which to store toxins from food, as there won’t be any toxins.
The enzymes and nutrients in the raw food will also give the body the resources it needs to gradually release the toxins from the fat.
In humans, this process is often called a "healing crisis", where the toxins released from the fat are taken by the blood to the liver for processing and release.
A cat is biologically designed to thrive on raw food.
Whilst in the blood, these toxins can contribute to a feeling of fatigue and general malaise.
Add PET Plus To Their Diet
Joint supplements can provide the nutrients required for the body to repair the damaged joints. It is essential that these are in natural forms and not limited to one compound, such the drugs glucosamine and chondroitin for example.
These drugs have been isolated in the mistaken belief that they are all the body needs to recreate cartilage.
There are various omega 3 rich supplements available as well. Most of the ingredients in Pet Plus are great sources of these omega 3 essential fatty acids, which have powerful anti-inflammatory activity, but work best in combination with enzymes, anti-oxidants and the whole spectrum of micronutrients, as found in Pet Plus
This is why the dietary supplement Pet Plus has been found to be so very effective in supporting the healing process. After all, if the joints are degenerating, other parts of the body will be degenerating too, but just not so obviously.
Degenerative disease can be body wide - feeding PET Plus helps all of your cat, not just their joints.
So don’t limit your treatment and attention just to the one painfully obvious symptom of this degenerative disease.
Provide Natural Pain Relief
In addition, it may be necessary to give some form of pain relief in the form of a natural anti-inflammatory. The transparent, clear jelly from the middle of aloe vera leaves works very well.
Cats will often eat that from a spoon. As with many plants, the outer green skin covering and the white latex-sap taste disgusting and can cause irritation and diarrhoea, so must be avoided!
There are plenty of Aloe Vera gel drinks available for humans. Find a clean one without chemical preservatives or additives and give about 2.5 mls 4-6 times daily by mouth for as many weeks as required.
The aloe vera not only reduces the inflammation, swelling and therefore the pain, but it also encourages healing and repair.
Give Medication If Necessary
If the signs of arthritis are very severe and fail to respond at all to all the above suggestions in the first week, which is extremely unlikely, you may decide to add nsaids or steroidal anti inflammatories.
These will reduce the pain and allow the poor cat to increase exercise as its energy levels increase with the wonderful nutrients and micronutrients provided by its new healthy lifestyle. This drug treatment must be very short term though, as the drugs will slow the healing process down and add to the toxic load which is the basic cause of the degenerative process.