It's hard to watch a beloved cat suffer the aches and pains that often accompany aging. While your veterinarian can prescribe pain relievers to ease his symptoms, many natural products can help your cat until his degenerative joint disease becomes truly advanced. Natural pain relievers for cats include various therapies and supplements. Always check with your veterinarian before offering your cat any natural or herbal supplements, or complementary therapies.
You can learn to give Kitty a gentle massage, which offers both comfort and some pain and stress relief. Conduct massages in a quiet part of the house, with no distractions from other pets, family members or electronic devices. Begin with "effleurage," light, downward stroking in the direction Kitty's hair grows. Keep one hand on your cat, while your other hand gently works on the head, trunk, tail and outer legs. When practicing effleurage on the inner legs, stroke against the hair. Try the technique known as "passive touch." Hold your hand only on a muscle group, without pressure. Keep your hand there for a few minutes. Don't use passive touch on any injured areas.
Acupuncture for Cats
Ask your veterinarian about the benefits of acupuncture for your cat. If she doesn't offer this ancient Asian therapy, she probably can refer you to a veterinary acupuncturist. The practitioner inserts small needles in precise points on your cat's body. These painless insertions send signals throughout the nervous system to the brain, helping restore balance to the feline body. While acupuncture is often used to ease symptoms of feline arthritis, it offers pain relief for other conditions, especially chronic diseases that conventional veterinary medicine alone can't completely address. These include dental issues, urinary tract problems and gastrointestinal disorders. Acupuncture treatments can promote quicker healing with less pain for certain illnesses or injuries. Acupuncture is safe to use along with other treatments, including any medications.
Herbs for Kitties
Certain herbs might alleviate specific types of feline discomfort. These include dandelion and cat's claw, both of which contain cortisone-like properties to relieve itching. Other herbs, including calendula, chamomile and echinacea, also offer itch relief. Licorice root might aid felines suffering from arthritis or cold symptoms.
MSM, Glucosamine and Chondroitin
If Kitty's got a hitch in his get-along -- stiffness or limping due to arthritis -- over-the-counter nutraceutical supplements can help him move more freely. Products containing glucosamine, chrondroitin and methyl-sufonyl-methane, or MSM -- often all three -- can help ease arthritis symptoms, but it can take several weeks of daily administration to notice results. All three occur naturally in a cat's body, and have anti-inflammatory properties. Unlike dogs, most cats don't fall for the "pill wrapped in cheese" deception, so consider purchasing joint supplements included in treats or in a paste form for wiping on Kitty's paws -- which he then licks off.
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Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.