You've heard cats always land on their feet. But do they always?
According to Purina, felines have an "inbuilt balancing system called the 'righting reflex' that allows them to orient themselves and land on their feet the right way up." But falling from extreme heights can sometimes cause injury. In addition, all those acrobatics can eventually take a toll on a cat's joints and bones.
The injury seems more than a possibility given that 40 percent of all cats have clinical symptoms of Osteoarthritis (OA). And x-rays reveal that 90 percent of cats over the age of 12 have OA - nearly double that seen in dogs.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic degenerative disease similar to the human version. OA causes damage to joints, cartilage, and bones. Veterinarians say OA is caused by excessive force on joints or general overuse of joints during daily activities, such as the leaps and bounds for which cats are famous. OA can also negatively impact cognition and impact the bond a cat has with his human.
Many experts say it's hard to diagnose OA in cats because their humans do not often recognize it. Because of this, only 13 percent of affected cats worldwide are properly diagnosed. It is common for veterinarians to assess cats regularly for OA as early as seven years old. And they are also teaching cat guardians how to recognize the signs. It's essential to watch your cat move around and notice if he becomes less energetic going up and down stairs, climbing or jumping off furniture, or scratching posts, or if he's just not his usual quirky self.
Educated and watchful humans and regular screening by vets can help with early diagnosis of OA. Treatment can begin sooner, giving cats fewer years of suffering and better overall mobility.
Fortunately, there are a few different options out there to help feline OA. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved a once-monthly injection. It's for vet use only and works by targeting nerve growth factor (NGF), which causes the pain of OA. Benefits include better mobility and overall comfort for the feline patient. The treatment was found to reduce OA pain after a single injection in a three-month study. While OA cannot be cured, either for pets or people, the newly-approved medication can be a game changer. For many cat guardians, the monthly injection is a welcome substitute for trying to give a suspicious patient a daily pill. If you'd like to discuss this and other OA treatments for your cat, talk to your veterinarian for more details.
Quote to remember: "I believe cats to be spirits come to earth. A cat, I am sure, could walk on a cloud without coming through." - Jules Verne
"Recognizing Feline Osteoarthritis"
Take Control of Managing OA Pain
"Do Cats Always Land on Their Feet?"