While your aging cat might benefit from glucosamine supplements to aid his creaking joints, if he's prone to feline lower urinary tract disease you have another reason to give him this over-the-counter nutraceutical: Glucosamine helps protect the bladder's lining. Consult your vet before giving Kitty any supplements.
Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease
Feline lower urinary tract disease, or FLUTD, refers to any of a number of conditions that cause Kitty trouble peeing. These include infections, cystitis, urinary stones, even cancer. The most serious type of FLUTD is a complete urinary blockage. Your vet diagnoses the actual cause of your cat's problem via urinalysis and a physical examination.
No matter the cause of FLUTD, initial symptoms are the same. Kitty will repeatedly visit the litter box, trying unsuccessfully to relieve his bladder. He might start peeing in different places around the house. You might see blood in his urine. Kitty might cry out in pain while trying to pee, or constantly lick his privates to try to obtain relief. A cat exhibiting urinary difficulties signifies a red-alert emergency, so take him to the vet immediately for diagnosis and treatment.
Glucosamine occurs naturally in the body and is found in healthy cartilage, according to the Mayo Clinic website. As bodies age, less glucosamine is produced, so supplementation aids joint health. Glucosamine supplements are produced either from shellfish or in a laboratory from fermented corn. They also contain compounds similar to those of a mucus layer protecting the feline bladder's inner lining. When working properly, this layer keeps urine from damaging the bladder's lining. No studies prove glucosamine actually helps keep the bladder's lining healthy; however, veterinarians have noted improvement in bladder function with FLUTD patients given glucosamine for arthritis.
Because glucosamine is generally safe, with few if any side effects, vets might recommend supplementation for cats that suffer from FLUTD. And for those glucosamine doesn't help, it does no harm. One caveat: Cats with diabetes should not receive it. Your vet will test your cat's blood sugar become recommending glucosamine.
Depending on the urinary problem's cause, treatment might include medication, intravenous fluids, or surgery if Kitty has a urinary blockage. Part of Kitty's aftercare might be glucosamine supplementation, although it's unlikely to be the only or primary treatment. Your vet will give you the proper dosage amount of glucosamine for your cat and might recommend a particular product.
Cosequin for Cats
Nutramax Laboratories, manufacturer of Cosequin for Cats, states its product "is the only joint health supplement brand shown effective, safe, and bioavailable in published, controlled U.S. studies." Cosequin, available in fish and chicken flavors, is designed for mixing daily into Kitty's food. If your vet recommends another brand of glucosamine, it might be in pill form.
- Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease
- VetInfo: Using Glucosamine for Cats' Urinary Problems
- Cat Clinic of Cobb: Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease and Feline Idiopathic Cystitis
- Nutramax Laboratories: Cosequin for Cats
- Mayo Clinic: Glucosamine
- Preventive Science: All About Glucosamine
- Karl Weatherly/Photodisc/Getty Images