relieving pain of severe arthritis in cat

by Mary


Happened upon your website and hope you can help or direct me as to where to go.

Do they ever give epidurals to cats for arthritis?

I have a 16 yr. old female cat and yes she is pudgy, which doesn't help.
We got her when she was 11 months old. I believe now she was born with some problem. She had kind of a waddle when she walked and when she ran had more of a hop like a rabbit. She would prefer to lay and grab at the fishing pole toy rather than run after it like our other cat.

She has had the ligaments in both back legs replaced. I also had her go through stem cell therapy 2 years ago hoping it would help but it didn't.

I am told she has extensive arthritic back legs and end of spine being the worst.

She will not use the litter pan anymore even though I cut sides down to about an inch. She is using piddle pads.

She is taking Tramadol, Metacam, and Gabapentin. Is there anything else that could help her some. I asked about Prednisone but our vet says it is too risky. They can develop diabetes from it even in a short time.
But he had our other cat on it when he got Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

It is hard to make the decision to put her to sleep when otherwise she is pretty healthy.

What makes is more difficult is I'm the caregiver for my husband who has Alzheimer's. He would miss the cat.

Any information you could give me would be appreciated.

Thank you,



First let me say that I empathize with your situation. I had my beloved cat Diablo from 4 months old and had to put him down at the age of 15 but I was fortunate that he made the decision for me. He stopped eating and after a few attempts at manually trying to force-feed him…I realized that he was asking me to let him go. It sounds like you have done almost everything to help your cat...such as the ligament replacements, stem cell therapy, and medications.

The Tramadol is similar to morphine and like morphine; it binds to and blocks opioid receptors that are important for transmitting the sensation of pain throughout the body. Gabapentin is an anti-seizure drug that has analgesic (pain reliever) properties that are particularly effective for reducing neuropathic pain in cats with reasonably good results.

However, I was surprised to see that your cat was being given Metacam (Meloxicam). I read in the Journal of Internal Veterinary Medicine (Vol. 21, Issue 3) that on 9/29/2010 the FDA announced the addition of warnings on the Metacam (Meloxicam) labels and the makers complied. This is the text: Warning: Repeated use of meloxicam in cats has been associated with acute renal failure and death. Do not administer additional doses of injectable or oral meloxicam to cats. Acute renal failure and death have been associated with use of meloxicam in cats.

You asked about epidurals. I don’t know of cats having epidurals except during surgery or Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care. I’ve never heard of this being used as a long term pain relief option. As for prednisone, one of the side effects is that it causes weight gain. In a cat that already has weight issues, gaining more weight will contribute to getting diabetes. I’m assuming that your other cat was not as overweight so it was able to handle the drug for a short period of time.

You appear to know that excess weight is contributing to your cat’s already overburdened joints. It’s common to think “what few pleasures does my cat have except food?” but being overweight is making your cats senior years more painful than it needs to be and complicating any treatments you may try. There are veterinary physical therapists who can design a weight loss program with a bit of exercise that is done slowly and safely.

The exercise is important because it helps to preserve muscle mass and preserves joint flexibility. Even while a cat is resting it burns more calories maintaining muscle than it does fat. There are also nutraceuticals used to treat osteoarthritis that contain glucosamine and other compounds known to be involved in the synthesis and repair of joint cartilage. An example is Cosequin. It is available in a number of places but one of our affiliates carries it. Here is the link: 2 PACK Cosequin for Cats 80 count (160 CAPSULES)

Although osteoarthritis is incurable, your cat’s quality of life can be substantially improved.

  • Controlled weight will take stress off their joints.
  • Providing a warm place to sleep such as a heated cat bed can be beneficial
  • A minimal to moderate exercise program
  • Gentle massage can help sore muscles and stiff joints

There is a book out that might help with massage methods The Healing Touch for Cats: The Proven Massage Program for Cats, Revised Edition

There is also a video (available in instant streaming, DVD & VHS) over at Amazon that gives detailed instructions on cat massage for arthritis called: The Tellington TTouch for Happier, Healthier Cats

There are a selection of heated cat beds here: Keep your cats warm all year with our Heated Cat Beds! Low Prices & Free Shipping!

While at Pet Street Mall shown above, type “ramps” (without quotations) into the search box and you will find a selection of ramps that replace jumping.

Arthro-Ionx link: Arthroionx (Arthritis and Hip Formula)

Our 21 year old cat that passed away some years ago had really bad arthritis and my husband built her a ramp to get up to her favorite window spot because we couldn’t find any at the store. Since then we’ve seen some available at Pet Street Mall (link is with Heated beds link above). Although she couldn’t be very active she could at least look at the birds and squirrels outside. She was very trim so weight wasn’t an issue. However, a few years ago I became aware of a product that has had positive results and customer reviews called Arthro-Ionx and wished I had known about it back then so that we could have tried it. I found it at Amazon and got the link for you(above in Resources). Read about it, it might be a benefit to your cat.

I have tried to supply some Resources for you so that you have options to consider. First, I would get your cat off Metacam! Second is to deal with the weight issue along with providing some comfort, heat, massage and medications. I sincerely hope that I have given you some food for thought. You want your furry friend to be with you longer, especially for the sake of your ailing husband, but in comfort. Quality of life, life without suffering is the goal. If that can’t succeed then the heart-breaking alternative is to love your cat enough to let her go.

Comments for relieving pain of severe arthritis in cat

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May 20, 2012
severe arthritis
by: Mary

Thank you for your replies. I have been taking Peaches for laser treatments which are supposed to reduce inflammation. But I don't sse any improvement.
She was taken off the Metacam and has started taking Prednisolone. I do reallize the risks involved but this is the last ditch effort so to speak.
I have bought so many beds, one even reflects the heat back but she prefers to lay on the carpet under the bed or in the closet. I have an old quilted bedspread on floor of closet and she curls up on that. I did buy a ramp last year but she is not able to walk up on it. She does slide down on her stomach with her rear legs sticking straight out in back. I always take her to bed with me at night.
I did see a very slight improvement since being on Prednisolone in that her tail isn't touching the floor as much. Carrying a ittle higher and walking just slightly better.
But for most part she still wants to sleep. But she still has a good appetite. Have been cutti g back on her food some but she is not happy about that. Did give her Cosequin for awhile but didn't seem to help. I;m just doing the best I can for her but afraid I'm nearing the point where that is not good enough anymore. Don't want her to suffer needlessly.

May 16, 2012
Solutions for your kitty
by: joyfulsunrise

I am so sorry you have to go through this ~ perhaps some of this may help.

Kitty litter box: Place layers of newspaper flat on the floor ~ add a bit of kitty litter onto the center for familiarity;scratching the paper is something no cat can resist ~ allowing a tiny bit of exercise, as well. When finished just scoop up the paper ~ add more ~ keep it as fresh as possible ~you may have to have people collect newspapers for you. Keep a garbage bag close for ease in having a place to deposit the paper.

Another simple non strenuous exercise: Purchase craft pipe cleaners ~( not the real ones which have a sharp texture usually found at the drugstore or smoke shop)these are found everywhere, dollar stores, craft shops, art supply stores, and any of the big box stores, like Target. It is best to use the white or beige ones not the intense colors as your cat may chew on it ~ if not the colors are o.k. Cats bat them around on the floor and you can hold one end and swing it back and forth in front of kitty ~ they lunge at it and usually take it from you and bat around a few times. Simple non stressful play, even for an overweight cat. You may want to go to this website: ~ Dr. Newman's site. Cat food with respect to weight normality. There are products, as well, that may give some relief to your kitty. There are 2 phone nos. on site, which have real people to answer questions. They may have some suggestions. Will be thinking of you and kitty, and wishing you a solution which will put you at peace with the situation ~ sending love ~

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