If your aging kitty has been acting stiff or achy lately, or can't jump as high as he used to, he may be suffering from arthritis or another joint-related issue. Depending on the condition, he may benefit from the regular use of glucosamine.
What Is Glucosamine?
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Glucosamine (pronounced glu-COSE-uh-men) is a natural substance found in all animals. It is found in high concentrations within the cartilage and is present in the shells of some sea creatures. Normally, and especially during youth, the body produces glucosamine on its own, working alongside glucose (blood sugar). During the aging process, or because of joint cartilage damage, the body can no longer produce enough. That's where supplements come in.
How Can I Tell if My Cat Needs Glucosamine?
Pet parents often say, "I wish he could tell me how he's feeling." This is a rare instance when pet ownership carries sadness, as we can't fully understand our furry friends' needs. However, their behavior gives us insight to their health. When it comes to arthritis, signs to watch for include: limping, difficulty standing or grooming, reluctance to jump or climb or resistance to touch. Use these observations and work with your vet to determine if your kitty needs help.
Appropriate kitty glucosamine dosages vary, but generally range between 120 milligrams and 500 milligrams per day. Confer with your veterinary health care provider to get a better sense of the proper amount and formulation for your cat. Also, it is a good idea to start with smaller dosages -- this helps your cat's body adjust and offers you a chance to monitor his reactions. Some cats experience diarrhea or other intestinal upset at higher doses.
Potential Issues and Solutions
Pilling a cat may evoke a collective, "Yeah right!" among cat parents. After all, cats know when they're being tricked, and the creamiest of cheeses doesn't always work. Crushing isn't foolproof, as your cat may just walk away from the food with that look of "I'm not in the mood for THAT." Fortunately, palatable options exist with flavors like tuna and chicken. Or, you can get a liquid form and dose your cat with a dropper. He'll thank you later.
Sarah Whitman's work has been featured in newspapers, magazines, websites and informational booklets. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in nutrition, and her projects feature nutrition and cooking, whole foods, supplements and organics. She also specializes in companion animal health, encouraging the use of whole foods, supplements and other holistic approaches to pet care.