Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Living with Arthritis

Rosie has arthritis. She is 21 years old, so at least a little arthritis is expected. But Rosie has especially severe arthritis. What do I mean by this? What I mean is that, through x-rays, it was confirmed a couple of years ago that Rosie has arthritis between every single one of her vertebrae.

I'll take this time to note that all four of Rosie's paws were declawed when she was a kitten. Declawing is a highly debated topic. Having a declawed cat and knowing its effects on her, I will openly admit that I personally am anti-declaw. When a cat is declawed, not just the claw is removed, but also part of the actual digit itself. This forces the cat to learn to ambulate differently than their natural tendency. And that is why cats that are declawed -- whether two or four of their paws are declawed -- are extremely likely to develop worse arthritis than non-declawed cats. So, having been declawed as a kitten, now 21-year-old Rosie has severe arthritis.

This is not the best picture to show it, but here is a mild example of Rosie as a "low rider" due to her arthritis. As with many arthritic cats, Rosie walks and stands in a more plantigrade stance than is typical for cats (as in, whereas cats typically walk more on their toes, Rosie walks and stands in a more flat-footed stance).
Also not the best picture to show it, this an example of how arthritic Rosie's front legs sometimes tend to twist somewhat abnormally when she sits and stands.
Of course, Rosie is on a medication to hep combat the effects of her arthritis. She was tried on various joint supplements and pain medications, but the only drug that seems to help soothe her arthritis is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory. Since she also has renal disease and since non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can affect the kidneys, Rosie is kept on a low dose of the anti-inflammatory, and she is only given it every other day. It does help her, but no drug can truly defeat arthritis.

So, how else do I try to help alleviate Rosie's arthritis? By making sure that my house and life is built around making her comfortable and making everything as easy on her and her old joints as possible. She has given me over twenty years of companionship, so it's the least I can do for her.

What are some of my methods for helping to alleviate Rosie's arthritis? Well, I place step stools and makeshift stairs for Rosie to use to get onto and off of furniture, since her arthritis makes it difficult for her to jump. I also make sure that she has plenty of soft beds to lie on, so that her joints are not stiff from or pained by hard and uncomfortable bedding. In cold weather, when her arthritis seems to bother her the most, I make sure she has means of staying nice and warm. And, I make sure that her food and litter box and other necessities are as near to her favorite sleeping areas as possible, so that she doesn't have to travel too far with her stiff joints.

Soft blankets help keep Rosie's joints comfortable. One of her favorite soft beds, as seen in this picture, is a giant fleece blanket. She also likes to be tucked in on cold winter nights.
Rosie has many, many soft blankets that she uses.
Keeping warm helps to keep Rosie's arthritis at bay in the winter. In fact, over the past couple of years it was discovered that Rosie likes to sleep directly in front of a heater in the winter. So now, every winter a heater is set up just for Rosie. Heater + favorite fleece blanket = Rosie's paradise. (Note: In this picture Rosie is actually sleeping on one of the step stools she uses to get onto the couch. Because it was the piece of furniture closest to the heater, she demanded that her blanket be placed on it. She got her way, of course.)
This little old lady is served breakfast, lunch, and dinner in bed. She deserves it.
Queen Rosie may have arthritis, but with the help of lots of TLC she doesn't let it get her down.


Quinn and Angel brandi said...

I only have declawed cats. No, no what you are thinking. I adopt declawed rescued cats and pamper them. They get smaller litter, which is softer and more comfortable and is easier for them to shake off. Later on in life, warm blankies and soft places to be. I am older and have arthritis, too, so I have, I think, a special understanding. My Quinn gets Cat Attract, which is more expensive but has smaller granules that she likes on her paws much better than other litters. She already gets soft warm blankies! Spoiled, but deserving, right?
Thank you for following my blog. I am adding you to my Bloglovin lists.

The Menagerie Mom said...

I admire that you adopt declawed cats and give them the spoiling they both need and deserve! Such a wonderful thing to do! There's simply something special about caring for animals that are "special needs", I guess you could call them.

I also want to let you know that I love your Quinn's facial markings, especially that half black and half white chin! Rosie's littermate Sammy had almost identical markings on his chin, except his was black on the left and white on the right.