As kitty ages, you might notice that he's not as active as he used to be. Cats suffer from arthritis just like people, but that doesn't mean you can't help him get back into the swing of things. Ask your vet about supplementing your arthritic cat with glucosamine sulfate.
Arthritis, or degenerative joint disease, causes the cartilage cushioning the joints to break down, so eventually bone hits bone. In cats, the elbows are the most commonly affected joints, according to the Cat Hospital of Chicago. It's not always that easy to tell whether your older cat has arthritis. Unlike people or dogs, cats are less likely to limp as one of their symptoms. Instead, you might notice that your cat isn't jumping up on windowsills, counters and other high places that he used to frequent. He didn't suddenly get the message that some of these spots were off-limits -- it just hurts to leap. You also might hear his joints creak as he rises from a long nap.
Glucosamine, found naturally in the body, comprises the amino acid glutamine and glucose, a sugar. Glucosamine both supports the production of cartilage and protects it. While the hydrochloride form of glucosamine is actually more pure, it doesn't work as well in supplement form as the sulfate version. Glucosamine has few side effects, although some cats might throw up or experience diarrhea. The American Animal Hospital Association and American Association of Feline Practitioners pain management guidelines state that glucosamine might decrease joint inflammation and aid in cartilage repair, but also points out that a large analysis conducted in people indicates "further study is warranted." That means that study didn't persuade them of all glucosamine's supposed merits.
You can purchase glucosamine supplements especially designed for cats over the counter, but should always ask your vet about any "nutraceuticals" you give your pets. Glucosamine is often combined with other anti-inflammatories such as chondroitin sulfate or methyl-sufonyl-methane, better known as MSM. Supplements, available in pill, powder and liquid forms, are mixed with food and given on a daily basis. It could take several weeks for you to notice the difference in your dear four-legged pal.
In addition to aiding kitty's joints, glucosamine also can help his bladder. If your cat suffers from the the various urinary tract disturbances known as feline lower urinary tract disease, your vet might suggest supplementing him with glucosamine to boost his bladder health. Glucosamine could renew a hormone found inside the bladder's lining. This could result in pain-free urination for your cat, less bladder inflammation and less urinary stress overall.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.