Glucosamine Supplements for Cats

"If you come near me again with that dropper, I will be mad."
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Callie has been your best pal for more than decade. Now that she’s in her golden years, she’s definitely slowing down. A glucosamine supplement might ease discomfort in her achy joints and help her climb or walk. But first talk about it with your veterinarian and rule out any major medical concerns.

What It Is

Glucosamine is a natural component of shells and bones, made up of glutamine -- an amino acid -- and glucose -- a simple sugar. Most glucosamine supplements come from ground-up shells of crustaceans such as shrimp. You’ll often see glucosamine supplements paired with chondroitin, which usually comes from cow cartilage and also boosts cartilage.

How It Works

Glucosamine helps strengthen the cartilage between joints, reducing inflammation and pain caused by bones rubbing together. Glucosamine also helps prevent permanent joint damage. Not all felines respond to this supplement.

Length of Time

If your beloved pet is already visibly showing signs of discomfort, your veterinarian might give her pain medications, because glucosamine supplements won’t do the trick overnight.

Kitties who respond to glucosamine typically start feeling better after about eight weeks on the supplements, according to Vetinfo. You could notice that it’s easier for her to get in and out of bed, and she might even start climbing her cat tree again.

Other Uses

Glucosamine is often given to kitties after skeletal trauma, such as breaking a bone or being hit by a car. It can help speed up the recovery process and doesn’t tend to have any lasting negative effects.

Glucosamine also aids in treating bowel disease or bladder problems in some kitties. However, if your feline's disorders of this type don’t get better after a couple months, your vet will have to put together a different treatment plan for them.


Glucosamine supplements come in a wide variety of forms, from drops to chewable pills. Once in a while it causes gagging, vomiting or diarrhea in sensitive cats. Usually, lowering the dosage can help relieve any of these uncomfortable side effects.

If your kitty is diabetic, glucosamine supplements can cause her blood sugar to spike to dangerously high levels. It's crucial to talk with your vet about your feline’s supplements ahead of time.

Changing Food

If Callie responds well to the glucosamine and seems to be improving, talk with her vet about putting her on a senior food that comes with glucosamine already in it. With these specialized formulas, you don’t have to deal with the headache of getting her to take a pill.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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