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Glucosamine and Your Arthritic Cat
By Beth Adelman
Pet Health Articles
Osteoarthrisits is a common problem in older cats, who suffer the
same swelling, stiffness and pain in the joints as people do. While
conventional treatments such as corticosteriods and
anti-inflammatories (such as aspirin) can treat the inflammation and
pain, the ideal treatment for arthritis would slow down the
progression of the disease and possibly even help to heal the joint.
Some clinical studies have found that glucosamine, commonly sold as a supplement for
both people and animals, may be able to do just that. The end of each bone, at the joint,
is covered with articular cartilage, which cushions the joint as a cat (or a person) moves.
In an arthritic joint, the cells that make up this cartilage become degraded, causing
damage to the cartilage and inflammation. The joint's shock absorber beings to wear away.

But glucosamine is an aminosugar that is incorporated into the articular cartilage of the
joint, helping it to repair itself. Glucosamine is safe to use and does not cause side-effects.
Its use among veterinarians (and orthopedists) is rapidly becoming widespread. It is the
supplement most commonly used to treat arthritis.

If you are considering glucosamine for your cat's arthritis, there are some important points
to keep in mind:

•Glucosamine works by acting on living cartilage cells, so it is most effective when used
early in the course of arthritis, before the joint damage is extensive. In fact, glucosamine is
most effective when it is given before there are any clinical signs of arthritis. Routine
screening of older cats for arthritis that has not yet begun to cause pain or limping can be
very effective.

•Glucosamine is not a cure for arthritis, but a treatment. This means it must be given every
day for the life of the cat. However, the dosage often can be reduced over time as more
healthy cartilage is produced.

•Glucosamine is not a drug, and its natural action takes time. It may be four to eight
weeks before you see any improvement. If you don't see improvement after eight weeks,
it's a good idea to have your cat re-evaluated; arthritis may not be the problem.

•Nutritional supplements are not well-regulated in the United States, which means the
purity, potency and even the ingredients in
glucosamine supplements can vary
dramatically among brands. As a rule, the less expensive supplements are either not as
pure or may contain lower doses of the active ingredients. Buy only top-quality
supplements from reputable manufacturers, because products of lesser purity are also
less effective. Ask your veterinarian for a recommendation.

•There are many natural glucosamine products that are formulated specifically for cats and
dogs and that contain the recommended dosage of glucosamine and other joint-enhancing
supplements. Some are
formulated as treats that will be much easier to give your cat
than a pill.
Beth Adelman is a contributing writer for The Daily Cat.
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