ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Do you know anyone “of a certain age” with chronic pain? Most people don’t keep it a secret. Dogs don’t suffer silently, either. You’ll notice them limping, slow to jump, or crying when they get up. But cats don’t say a word. If you think they get a pass on pain, you would be wrong.
Cats are genetically programmed to hide their vulnerabilities. Rather than belly-aching to their bridge club, they get small and quiet to avoid the notice of predators. Never mind that hungry coyotes don’t lurk among your house plants, ready to pounce. Survival behaviors are innate. Unless your cat has had a human or canine brain transplant, you shouldn’t count on him to sing the blues.
A veterinarian’s gentle palpation of a cat’s neck, back and legs will uncover important secrets, but it’s the at-home behavior that reveals the inside story. Shoot some video of your kitty jumping (or thinking of jumping), coming when called (the sound of her favorite treats) and a bit of footage of her just resting. Evaluations of postures, length of stride and overall agility contain a wealth of clues.
We have oral medications that can make a big difference. Prescription meloxicam can be safely used long-term in cats, even those with chronic kidney failure. Meloxicam comes in chewable tablets, an oral liquid, granules that can be added to food and a gel that can be applied to the gums. But now we have a non-pharmaceutical treatment.
Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy can be targeted to the painful area. The Assisi Loop has been proven to reduce pain and inflammation with twice daily sessions of 15 minutes each. It’s a safe and painless method for improving a cat’s or a dog’s wellbeing. You can make it even easier with a device called the Assisi Loop Lounge, which fits into the bottom of a comfy cat house. A pet in pain can just hang out for their treatments right at home.
Be observant, shoot some video, and then get your strong and silent feline senior examined. Quality of life matters for everybody, including for your strong and silent, gracefully aging kitty.
Each week, Dr. Jeff Nichol makes a short video, blog or a Facebook Live to help bring out the best in pets. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Dr. Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). You can post pet questions at facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by mail to 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.