Have you noticed your joints getting a little creakier with each passing year? Does the friendly phrase "sit down and take the weight off" bring you a deeper sense of relief than it did in your younger years? Welcome to the joys of natural aging and joint pain. However, you are not alone in this journey. In fact, your cat is likely dealing with joint pain right alongside you. Experiencing joint pain first-hand is almost as painful as seeing your cat suffer from the same predicament. Worry not! A quick trip to the vet will surely get your cat back on track in no time, right? Well, more than likely you will leave your vets office with the joint supplement Cosequin for cats. In this article, we will discuss the causes, prevention methods, and the best treatment options for joint pain in felines.
Cosequin for Cats? What is that?
Interestingly enough, Cosequin is not only used for feline joint relief. In fact, Cosequin is a popular joint supplement for canine and equine (horse) use. Available as an over-the-counter supplement, Cosequin battles the breakdown of cartilage that causes joint pain.
Cartilage is the "glue" that hold the bones together at the joints. Be it from natural aging, disease, or infection, sometimes that cartilage begins to waver. In addition to existing cartilage preservation, Cosequin has been known to help aid in the growth of new, healthy cartilage. Conversely, Cosequin can also promote bladder health and aid in the treatment of cat UTI's (urinary tract infections).
It is important to point out that Cosequin does not cure joint issues. Like a band-aid on a deep cut, Cosequin merely covers up the symptoms of joint pain. More advanced stages of joint distress may require more powerful medicine or even corrective surgery.
Cosequin for Cats Side Effects
While Cosequin is a mostly natural supplement, it is not without side effects. Felines starting out on a Cosequin regime commonly experience upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Furthermore, it is crucial that you consult your vet before starting dosage. More often than not, medications and supplements can have adverse reactions if pre-existing conditions are present. In the case of Cosequin, cat's with diabetes should steer clear. Accordingly, Cosequin has been known to elevate blood sugar levels, proving diabetes patients are not ideal patients for this particular supplement.
It is important to note that in the event Cosequin is a successful pain reliever for your dog, a daily dosage is a lifelong commitment. Cosequin does not cure joint pain, it simply relieves it while the supplement is in your cat's system. This leaves your cat entirely dependant on Cosequin, which is less than ideal.
Like most medications and supplements, Cosequin is made up of several ingredients. The two primary ingredients are:
- 125 mg of Glucosamine Hydrochloride - Derived from the shells of crustaceans, glucosamine is a powerful agent of cartilage regeneration.
- 120 mg of Sodium Chondroitin Sulfate (SCS) - Originating from the cartilage of animals like sharks and cows, SCS is a common ingredient in human joint pain relief as well.
The ingredient list rounds out with smaller amounts of manganese ascorbate, gelatin, magnesium stearate, titanium dioxide, and FD & C Blue #1 and #3.
Know Where Ingredients Come From
Considered to be a natural supplement, Cosequin is a popular choice for joint pain in cats. One of the main ingredients, sodium chondroitin sulfate, is derived from bovine cartilage. While this is technically a natural ingredient, the sourcing can be quite questionable.
If you ever see ingredients derived from animal products in your cat's food or vitamins, be sure to look into where that company gets their meat and animal bi-products. In the world of animal products, it is common for manufacturers to use animal ingredients that are not suitable for human consumption. The animals used to make these products are considered “4D”. The four “D’s” are:
There is a loophole in quality standards for manufacturing products designed for animals. While the facilities are approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the ingredients do not legally have to be FDA approved.
Is Your Cat in Pain?
We live in a society where people go running for antibiotics everytime they sneeze. What people do not realize is that they are actually doing more harm than good. With something as minor as a common cold, taking antibiotics can actually weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to sickness. Considering you are reading an article about cats, you may suspect that the aforementioned point is also true of our feline friends. Before you or your vet start administering pills, it is important to know if your cat actually needs them.
Cats are notoriously proud and independent creatures. These traits mean that cats can be hard to read in terms of pain levels. Fortunately, there are some tell-tail (enjoy that spelling pun there) signs indicating your cat is experiencing joint discomfort.
Altered Grooming Regime
Have you ever noticed you never have to take your cat to the groomer as you do with your dog? Well, that is because cats are natural experts in personal grooming. However, when cats are experiencing pain, their grooming habits may suddenly change in one of two ways: over grooming or stopping entirely.
In the case of over-grooming, you may notice your cat licking a specific area more than usual. This may leave skin red and irritated, or even create bald patches. When cats are kittens, they are licked and groomed by their mothers. Not only is this practical, but it is also comforting. Therefore, when a cat is experiencing pain, they may resort to licking to feel a sense of comfort and safety.
Lack of Grooming
On the other hand, lack of grooming is also common in cats experiencing joint pain. You may have noticed the Olympic-level gymnastics positions that cats form when grooming. Well, joint pain makes these positions harder and more uncomfortable for cats. If you notice your cat's coat is dirtier and more matted than usual, they may be unable to properly groom themselves.
Biting and Scratching
Even the friendliest of felines may turn aggressive when under the influence of pain. If you suspect your cat is hurting, exercise caution when scanning their bodies for tender places. Ailing cats may bite or scratch simply in anticipation of you touching painful areas.
When and if your cat is aching, be especially wary of interactions with children and guests. Children tend to try and pick up or play rough with cats. If your cat is hurting, they may turn the child in question into a dog person.
Look into their Eyes
Cats are naturally regal creatures. In fact, they were worshiped as Gods in ancient Greek and Egyptian cultures. Of the many notable feline features, the eyes are arguably the most iconic. Eyes are known to express all sorts of feelings and emotions. Interestingly enough, cat eyes can portray signs of pain in the body. If your cat's pupils (the black center circle) are dilated (enlarged), this could be an indicator of body pain. Conversely, smaller than usual pupils may indicate actual eye pain.
Whether one or both eyes are affected directly corresponds to the underlying condition. Furthermore bloodshot or constantly squinty eyes are something to look out for when monitoring your cat's condition.
Changes in Habits
Cats are the original creatures of habit. Any sudden changes in their regular routine are cause for a further investigation. Therefore, it is important to establish a baseline idea of your cat's "healthy" self. That way, when any of the following changes occur, you can immediately notice and take action.
We all know that cats typically spend more time sleeping than doing anything else. Specifically, domesticated cats can sleep for up to twenty hours a day. That being said, cats in pain tend to sleep more than they normally would. Sleep is when the body's natural healing factory works at optimal levels. Additionally, sleeping is often the best escape from joint pain.
Furthermore, indoor cats tend to have around three go-to sleeping spots. More often than not, these snuggly spots are high up and require jumping to get to. A healthy cat will have no problem taking the leap to the top shelf of your closet where your fluffy sweaters live. A cat with joint pain, however, will likely opt for lower spots because they are easier to get to.
Bodily aches and pains often times leave your cat eating or drinking less than usual. Not only does pain act as an appetite suppressant, but it may simply hurt too much to make the trip to the food bowl. If you notice your cat leaving leftovers at dinnertime, you should look for more signs of discomfort.
Similar to the previous notion of painful trips to the food bowl, cats with joint pain be having trouble making it to the litter box. If your potty trained suddenly starts leaving unexpected "gifts" around your home, you may want a veterinarian to check them out.
Moreover, cats experiencing pack pain, specifically, may physically have trouble assuming the position, so to speak. Therefore, constipation may occur as a residual symptom.
It is no surprise that a cat having trouble strutting to the litter box may also be less prone to playfulness. Pay attention to your cat's interest level in playtime. Even the most playful kitties may suddenly lose all interest in their feather on a stick.
Conversely, some cats may try to run and play, but you may notice they are limping or having trouble. Remember, cats are stubborn and shy about revealing they are hurting.
Joint Pain Prevention
It will come as no surprise that there are literally countless diseases, ailments, and health hiccups that can occur during your cats lifetime. The same is true for us as people! You simply cannot burden yourself with worry and fear about these uncertainties in life. However, you can (and should) do what you can to prevent any of these potential issues from arising. At the end of the day, the best treatment is always prevention.
By far, the most effective promoter of optimal feline health is a well-balanced diet. If your cat’s body were an exclusive nightclub (let’s call it “Dance Right Meow”), their diet would be the bouncer checking the diseases at the door. A poor diet is like hiring a mousy bouncer who takes smoke breaks every five minutes, leaving the door open to all kinds of unsavory diseases to walk right on in. A perfectly balanced diet gives your cat’s door guy the tall stature and big scary biceps every good bouncer needs.
Important Dietary Elements
So how exactly do you get the ideal "hulk" of a bouncer? You simply feed your cat the perfect balance of must-have nutritional elements! Your cat needs:
- Protein (meat or fish!)
- Amino Acids
- Essential Fatty Acids
You may notice two things missing from this list: vegetables and carbs. Well, cats don't need either! Domesticated felines are built like their jungle cat ancestors (lions, leopards, cheetah's, etc) and are therefore specifically carnivorous. Not only does this mean they eat meat, but they have to eat meat to survive. Interestingly enough, feline gastrointestinal systems are not built to sustain carbohydrates. Unfortunately, many pre-made dry cat foods pack in grains or corn into their products. These ingredients serve no nutritional purpose for your cat, are hard to digest, and lead to excessive weight gain. While humans need carbs for energy, cats need protein.
Obesity in Cats, A BIG Problem
You have likely seen a comically chubby cat before, with their bloated bellies practically dragging on the floor. While at first glance it may seem adorably funny, obesity is no joking matter. Did you know that a more than half of America’s domesticated feline population is obese? That translates to tens of thousands of cats.
This embarrassing statistic is a result of many factors. First of all, many pet parents overfeed their cat by a lot. Did you know cats only need an average of 200-300 calories per day? To put that in perspective, a single cup of dry cat food clocks in at about 300 calories. This means many cats are eating over three times what they need daily.
How to Curb Obesity
Many cat owners will leave large bowls of full of food out for their cat. This will provide them with food for days, reducing the daily chore of following feeding schedules. However, this leaves cats with an all-you-can-eat buffet. We all know what happens at buffets… you overeat!
Furthermore, choosing the right food can be a daunting task. First of all, always thoroughly read the ingredients of any food you are considering. If you don't know what something is, look it up! Your cat's food shouldn't have more scientific words than your high school chemistry book. Check with your vet for guidance in determining the right balance of nutrients for your unique cat.
You may also want to consider a raw cat food diet. This approach is rapidly growing in popularity and poses benefits such as improved digestion, enhanced energy levels, weight management, and healthier skin and coat.
You know that nagging feeling you have in the back of your head telling you that you should take a trip to the gym? Well, just like you, cats need exercise. Cat’s are wild animals that have been domesticated over centuries to be lazy and snuggle with you indoors. However, this acts against their natural instinct to hunt and run freely.
Healthy physical activity increases blood flow and circulation, which works wonders on joint health. Even better, regular exercise can repair joints that have degenerated. Healthy movement releases genes that promote cartilage growth. So pick up that mouse toy and take your cat on a trip around the living room!
A Natural Approach to Joint Health
Not only are natural remedies growing in popularity for humans, but researchers are proving their benefits for our feline friends as well!
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
As previously mentioned, your cat’s diet should include essential fatty acids. Omega-3’s are the most popular and effective type of fatty acids. A natural anti-inflammatory, omega-3’s can work wonders on ailing joints. Better yet, essential fatty acids have several other benefits. Including:
- Reducing allergies
- Promoting health eyes and brain (especially in kittens)
- Cancer growth suppressant
- Anti-inflammatory (working especially well with troubled joints, kidneys, skin, or hearts)
- Regulates excessive shedding
When effectively administered in your cat's diet, essential fatty acids can prove wildly beneficial for your cat over time.
You yourself may have gotten acupuncture before. Dating back to ancient Chinese medicine, acupuncture is the process of inserting tiny needles strategically in pressure points around the body. This process increases circulation and reduces inflammation. Both of which help treat joint pain.
While you may think acupuncture for cats is totally insane, it is actually quite therapeutic. However, it is absolutely essential that you visit a licensed acupuncture therapist that specializes in pet therapy.
While used as an ingredient in Cosequin, glucosamine can be quite effective at treating joint pain on its own. Derived from the shells of crustaceans, glucosamine is known to promote the growth of healthy cartilage. Fun fact: glucosamine is already in your cat's body. A healthy feline produces glucosamine naturally, however, when trauma or age intervenes, glucosamine production ceases. Fortunately, regular implementation of pre glucosamine supplements can regulate your cat’s joint pain in eight weeks or so.
Cosequin for Cats: The Bottom Line
Joint pain is easily one of the most prevalent ailments facing cats today. Joint issues can be brought on by the natural passing of time, disease, or unexpected physical trauma. No matter the cause, a smart, healthy treatment plan is necessary to get the spring back in their step. Sadly, a number of prescription drugs and supplements filled are filled with unsavory chemicals and/or questionable ingredients. Therefore, we recommend you talk to your vet about a natural, holistic approach to joint pain relief. From out pet-loving family, to yours, we wish you and your cat a lifetime of happiness.