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Osteoarthritis in cats may improve with fish oil supplements

Osteoarthritis in cats is becoming a more common diagnosis when they start "slowing down with age." One study shows that the omega-3 acids in fish oil may help.
Osteoarthritis in cats is becoming a more common diagnosis when they start "slowing down with age." One study shows that the omega-3 acids in fish oil may help.
Eve-Angeline Mitchell

Osteoarthritis in cats may improve with omega-3 supplements in their diets. A 2013 study from the Netherlands said that cat owners noticed improvement in their arthritic cats' movements after 10 weeks of omega-3 supplementation. This is good news for people who have cats with osteoarthritis, and are looking for ways to help.

The specific omega-3s that work are DHA and EPA, which are found in fish oil. Some of the cats in the study were given fish oil, and others were given corn oil. The cats receiving the fish oil showed improvement in jumping and stair climbing, and interacted more with their families. The cats receiving corn oil didn't show nearly the same improvement.

Diagnoses of osteoarthritis in cats are becoming more common. Cats with osteoarthritis might start showing behavioral problems, such as urinating outside the litter box and lack of grooming. They might also start eating less, and they might lose weight.

Some other signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis in cats are exercise intolerance (a lack of desire or ability to play for very long), difficulty with jumping onto furniture and favorite places, and difficulty climbing stairs. Even if a high place was their favorite place to nap, and you always knew you could find them there, they might start looking for new places that are easier to get to.

It's very important that you look for these things, because even cats with osteoarthritis in many joints will continue to try and hide their pain as best they can. It's an instinctive behavior, designed to prevent them from becoming easy targets for predators in the wild. It's sometimes difficult to diagnose osteoarthritis in cats because of this.

Some of the main ways to treat osteoarthritis in cats are painkillers and lifestyle changes. One of the biggest things you can do for your arthritic cat is to help him lose weight if he's overweight. Also, giving him more places to sleep that are lower down, or building a small set of steps up to your bed or the sofa, will help with his mobility issues. If you decide to use fish oil also, it can go along with these other treatments nicely.

Even though fish oil can help osteoarthritis in cats, make sure you talk to your vet about adding it to his diet before actually doing so. Avoid cod liver oil, because cod liver oil isn't good for cats. You can get fish oil that is safe for your cats from various nutrition stores like GNC or Vitamin World, or from places online like iherb.com and Amazon.