You've had your feline friend since she was a tiny ball of fur. Now that she's older, she's not getting around quite as easily. You'll need to help her out to relieve some of that muscle and joint pain she has. Diet, exercise and a daily massage will ease her symptoms.
Change Her Diet
No matter your kitty's age, if she's overweight, she'll have a lot of stress on her skeleton. Even a 1-pound weight increase for a 10-pound cat is excessive. That's like you packing on an extra 15 pounds. She'll experience pain in her joints and sore muscles as her body has to work harder than normal.
One of the first steps in relieving her discomfort is putting her on a premium weight control or low-calorie feline food. Follow the manufacturer's instructions closely and no matter how much she begs for more, don't give in. Overfeeding her got her to this point in the first place. Because weight gain may be a sign of a more serious condition, don't make any changes in her diet without consulting your veterinarian.
Make Sure She Exercises
She's in pain and doesn't feel like running around the house anymore, but she has to. Exercising not only helps progress her weight loss, it also keeps her joints loose and limber, minimizing stiffness. Stairs might not be the best option, since they can be too strenuous for her. Keep all of her necessities -- toys, litter box, food and water -- on one level of your home.
Spread everything out so she has to walk from room to room. Put her litter box on one end and her feeding area on the opposite side of the house, with toys in between. She may not be too interested in playing with her toys for long periods of time, however, even one or two minutes at a time is plenty. Sprinkle catnip on her balls or wiggle a feather wand in front of her face to get her more active.
Give Her Supplements
Your veterinarian might suggest giving Lola supplements to improve her condition. Glucosamine and chondroitin, which are natural components of cartilage, aren't as ample in your aging kitty's body. As cartilage between her joints breaks down, bones rub together, causing severe pain. Taking over-the-counter glucosamine and chondroitin supplements helps rebuild the cartilage over time. Additionally, giving her an omega-3 fatty acid supplement can help lubricate her joints and reduce inflammation in her body.
Just like you enjoy getting a good shoulder rub after a strenuous day, your purring pal also loves having a long rubdown. She gets to spend quality one-on-one time with you while you work on easing the pain in her joints and muscles. Start at the top of her head and gently rub her entire body, all the way down to her tail.
Watch her facial expressions and movements. If she seems aggravated when you touch her swollen hip joints, be particularly cautious to avoid getting a nip on the hand. As long as she's comfortable, rub her paws and slowly move them for her, working each muscle and joint. Stop if she starts growling or pins her ears down towards her head. Pick up where you left off after she relaxes.
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.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.