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Taking Action to Help Cats With OA Pain



Cats hide almost everything, especially pain. However, it’s possible to effectively diagnose feline osteoarthritis and OA pain. You can start by partnering with cat owners even before the appointment.

A full discussion of the below approach is covered in The Feline OA Compendium: A Practical Resource for Managing Osteoarthritis Cases.

Screening for Feline OA Pain in 3 Steps


Follow this step-by-step guide to help you efficiently screen for feline OA pain —and help ensure minimal stress on the cat.



Did you know that more than 60% of cats over the age of 6 are affected by osteoarthritis?1 Or that OA can start in cats as young as 6 months of age?2 This, along with general information about feline OA, is eye-opening for cat owners.

Helping cat owners understand that their pet could be affected by OA is extremely important.


When they learn that OA is an extremely common, painful disease that can be treated, more than half were motivated to make an appointment with a veterinarian.3


Share these veterinarian-authored articles with cat owners to help further educate them about OA pain and the signs to watch for:

Recognizing your cat’s normal vs. not normal

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Everyday signs of a cat in pain

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The impact of chronic pain on your cat’s quality of life

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There is a gap between what cat owners think of as pain and what veterinarians think of as pain. In a survey, 45% of cat owners reported behavior changes in their cats related to OA pain, but didn’t think their cat had OA.3


Often, cats present for behavioral problems, but when pain is treated, the behavioral problems resolve.


Behavior changes that demonstrate OA


A study by Matasaka Enomoto, DVM identified 6 behavior changes that demonstrate OA.4


The Cat OA Pain Checklist—shown in a study to have >97% specificity in identifying OA pain4—also includes these behaviors shown at home, as well as quality-of-life metrics. Invite your cat owners to complete the checklist using this digital version

Interactive Checklist: They can share the results with you

  • Via email
  • As part of a telehealth previsit conversation
  • During the exam, as their cat acclimates to the exam room

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Printable Checklist: You can also have copies of the checklist printed and ready for use in your waiting room or clinic exam rooms.

View | Download

Email to Cat owners

Featuring facts and educational resources about feline OA that your clinic can send to cat owners.

Help cat owners recognize the signs of OA pain in their cats

View | Download

Watch and share this video with cat owners to show what these everyday behaviors look like in healthy cats compared with cats in pain. This can help them recognize and understand what their pet may be going through.

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Coaxing a cat to show you some OA pain behaviors is possible—you can do this during the intake phase of the exam. Consider applying these feline-friendly best practices:

  • Prepare the exam room by providing non-slip surfaces and spray them with pheromones to help cats feel comfortable. Have a chair next to the exam table to provide an intermediate surface for cats to reach
  • Open the cat’s carrier to allow the cat to come out at its own pace and walk around the room
  • Use this time to both take the cat’s history from the owner and watch for mobility issues as the cat moves around the room
  • Use treats to encourage the cat to jump up onto chairs or down from the exam table to get a broader picture of mobility

Between your client’s observations in the Cat OA Pain Checklist and your own observations in the exam room, you might suspect OA pain.

Watch Dr. Lascelles demonstrate techniques for efficient, low-stress exams in Feline Exam Videos.

Additional Screening Tips

Dr. Margaret Gruen shares these insights:


The time for building awareness with cat owners starts as early as possible. “As the cat gets older, as they approach 7, 8, 9 years of age we want owners to be looking for these changes…”


Discuss the Cat OA Pain Checklist results with your clients in detail. “Really listen to the owners. To ask them not just about whether they think their cats are in pain, but to ask about specific behaviors that their owners may not have thought were associated with pain.”

*This questionnaire is not a medical diagnosis tool and is not intended to replace discussions with an animal healthcare professional. Discuss medical concerns with your veterinarian.




References

1. Slingerland L, Hazewinkel H, Meij B, Picavet P, Voorhout G. Cross-sectional study of the prevalence and clinical features of osteoarthritis in 100 cats. Vet J. 2011;187(3):304-309.

2. Lascelles BD, et al. Cross-sectional study of the prevalence of radiographic degenerative joint disease in domesticated cats. Vet Surg. 2010;39(5):535-544.

3. Data on File, November Pet Owner 2018 KG Marketsense, Zoetis Inc.

4. Enomoto M, Lascelles BD, Gruen ME, Development of a checklist for the detection of degenerative joint disease-associated pain in cats. J Feline Med Surg. Published online March 3, 2020. Doi:10.1177/1098612X20907424.

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Follow a 3-step Approach

STEP 1: Raise Cat Owner Awareness of Feline OA Pain

Cat OA Pain Checklist

Download

Articles for Cat Owners

Recognizing Your Cat’s Normal and Not Normal

Download | Share

Everyday Signs of A Cat in Pain

Download | Share

The Impact of Chronic Pain on Your Cat’s Quality of Life

Download | Share

STEP 2: Help Cat Owners Recognize the Signs of Feline OA Pain

Interactive Cat OA Pain Checklist

View | Share

More tools to help educate cat owners about the signs and impact of Feline OA pain:

Social Posts to Cat Owners

E-Mail to Cat Owners

View | Download

VIDEO: 6 Behavior Changes That Demonstrate OA

View | Download | Share

STEP 3: Screen for Feline OA in the Exam Room

VIDEO: 4 ways to spot feline OA in the clinic

View

VIDEO: What cat owners need to be aware of to recognize early signs of OA

View

References

1. Slingerland L, Hazewinkel H, Meij B, Picavet P, Voorhout G. Cross-sectional study of the prevalence and clinical features of osteoarthritis in 100 cats. Vet J 2011; 187:304-309. (Vault Code: AR-08630)

2. Lascelles BD, et al. Cross-sectional study of the prevalence of radiographic degenerative joint disease in domesticated cats. Vet Surg 2010;39:535-544. (Vault Code: AR-07344)

3. Data on File, November Pet Owner 2018 KG Marketsense, Zoetis Inc. (Vault Code: TI-04154)

4. Enomoto M, Lascelles BD, Gruen ME, Development of a checklist for the detection of degenerative joint disease-associated pain in cats. J Feline Med Surg Published online March 3, 2020. Doi:10.1177/1098612X20907424. (Vault Code: AR-11796)

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