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Ask A Vet: Massages & Other Remedies for Cat Arthritis

Welcome to our weekly 'Ask a Vet from the SF SPCA' feature on 7x7.com. They've enlisted their Co-President, Dr. Jennifer Scarlett, to answer your questions every week. Got a question for Dr. Scarlett? Ask away in the comments!

Q: My cat lives in my hometown of Honolulu, Hawaii, is 15 and has arthritis. She's small but getting frail, and my mom is always giving her gentle massages to make her feel better. Is it okay to do that for kitties with arthritis? And what are some other remedies to give her for arthritis pain besides pain medicine?
 
A: I’m going to hide this week’s Ask the Vet column from my cats lest they begin to wonder why:
A.  We aren’t in Hawaii, and
B.  Why I’m not giving them full body massages
 
Gentle massage is a great way to comfort our older pets.  Not only does it feel good but it can stimulate blood and lymphatic flow.  Watch for signs of irritability such as the tail flickering but otherwise, "Carry on!”.  It’s great for people too. Come to think of it, I could use a little massage right now!
 
Other non-prescription remedies that could make your kitty feel better include weight loss, nutritional supplements like glucosamine, acupuncture and chiropractics. Laugh away, but my little orthopedic oddity of a cat, Nubbins, has benefitted from acupuncture and chiropractic adjustments.  Hey, it’s San Francisco…

While we can’t answer all of the questions here, please feel free to ask us during our Friday Twitter Ask the Vet Chat.  If your animal’s problem is of an immediate nature, please call your vet or you can reach the SF SPCA at 415-554-3030 to make an appointment.