De beste manier om het pijnniveau van uw kat te detecterennovember 12, 2019
According to the 2015 AAHA/AAFP (American Animal Hospital Association/American Association of Feline Practitioners) Pain Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats, “… the most accurate method for evaluating pain in animals is not by physiological parameters but by observations of behavior.”1
This is sort of a good news/bad news thing for cat parents. The good news is that by learning to interpret your kitty’s behavior, you can tell if she’s hurting and take action. The bad news is that feline behavior can be quite difficult to interpret, because as self-sufficient hunters (vs. dogs, who live in social groups), cats didn’t evolve as extroverts.
Assessing Feline Pain Is Challenging
Many cat parents don’t realize the reason their pet meows at them, but almost never at other kitties, is because humans aren’t very skilled at reading normal feline communication signals. Our cats have learned that we’re more likely to respond to sounds than other types of messages they send. As feline practitioner Dr. Elizabeth Colleran explains:
“The resulting problem is two-fold: We have a creature who doesn’t need to provide minute-by-minute status updates and people who don’t pay attention.”2
There’s actually a third issue — what happens at the veterinary clinic. Let’s say you suspect your cat is having musculoskeletal pain, and you take her to your veterinarian. Once you’ve removed kitty from her preferred environment (your home) and delivered her to a strange place with unfamiliar (and therefore threatening) smells, sights, and sounds, she’s plenty stressed.
This makes assessing potential musculoskeletal pain challenging, because your vet needs to check her gait and palpate her joints. Unlike dogs, cats typically don’t walk when you ask them to and handling by a stranger — especially if it triggers a pain response — can cause even the most laidback kitty to freeze in place, try to hide or escape, or strike out with claws or even teeth.
This is a problem because, as Colleran observes, “… nearly half the species — or about 40 million cats — have some form of musculoskeletal pain that affects quality of life on numerous levels.”
The Feline Musculoskeletal Pain Index
House call (mobile) veterinarians have an advantage over traditional veterinary practices when it comes to assessing pain in cats, because these practitioners get to observe their feline patients on their home turf where they’re less stressed and more likely to move around.
A step up from house calls is what Colleran terms an “invisible veterinarian” who is able to observe cats without their knowledge. This is how the Feline Musculoskeletal Pain Index (FMPI) came to be and is designed to be used not only by veterinary staff, but more importantly, by cat owners.
“Using language accessible to cat owners, the questionnaire asks a series of simple questions about movement, behavior, sleep and mood,” writes Colleran. “Pain associated with bones, joints and muscles results in compensatory behavior alterations that can be seen by a caregiver who’s known the cat for a period of time. A score is attached to the completed form which is used to evaluate the degree to which the cat has changed over time.”
If you’re interested in the FMPI, visit PainFreeCats.org. The questionnaire can be downloaded or filled out online and repeated over time to see how your cat is progressing. It’s also important to discuss the results with your veterinarian. Since your cat’s health will naturally change over his lifetime, the FMPI can help you track trends, identify patterns of behavior, and make adjustments to his treatment protocol as necessary.
The Importance of Managing Your Cat’s Pain
As your kitty’s primary advocate, it’s important to realize that pain is a serious medical problem requiring treatment. Chronic pain can cause inactivity and loss of overall quality of life. It can also damage the bond you share with your kitty if his personality or behavior changes or he becomes aggressive. In addition, when pain isn’t managed effectively, it can progress from what we call adaptive pain — pain caused by a specific injury or condition — to pain that is maladaptive.
Maladaptive pain is its own disease and must be dealt with in addition to routine pain management. Maladaptive pain can be of much longer duration than normal pain and considerably more challenging to treat. One of the best ways to avoid “pain wind up” from the beginning is to effectively address pain immediately.
I regularly see clients who are fearful of using appropriate pain drugs immediately after surgery (usually Buprenorphine) and opt instead for natural support. In my opinion, even the most potent herbs and nutraceuticals won’t address moderate to profound pain to the degree necessary to be considered humane, post-surgery.
After the patient’s pain is well managed on appropriate pharmaceuticals, the vast majority of cats can be weaned onto all-natural protocols (or a blended protocol including a reduced amount of pain killers) that do a great job of handling mild to moderate pain.
Pain medication for cats requires special knowledge and careful attention. For example, certain opioids (narcotic painkillers) cause fewer side effects in cats than other types of painkillers. Most NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), on the other hand, actually create more side effects in cats than in other species. It’s not that we can’t use NSAIDs in cats, it’s that we have to be very, very cautious of the type of NSAID, the dose, and the duration of therapy.
Your veterinarian should be very well versed in the latest research and most appropriate medications for feline pain management. With an integrative approach, it’s possible to dramatically reduce the frequency and dose of the drugs needed to manage your cat’s musculoskeletal pain by also employing a variety of other non-toxic options that do an effective job of pain management.
Alternative Approaches to Pain Management
Since felines are physiologically very unique, there are few effective pharmacologic agents that can be safely given long-term to control the pain of chronic conditions like arthritis.
Fortunately, there are a number of alternative therapies that can alleviate your kitty’s pain naturally, including chiropractic, therapeutic massage, stretching exercises, acupuncture, laser therapy, and the Assisi Loop, which is a form of pulsed electromagnetic field therapy.
There are supplements you can add to your arthritic cat’s diet to provide the raw materials for cartilage repair and maintenance and slow down progression of the disease. These include glucosamine sulfate, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), and eggshell membrane.
If kitty is overweight, it’s important to safely diet her down to a healthy weight to decrease the amount of inflammation in her body. It’s also important to feed an anti-inflammatory diet, which means eliminating pro-inflammatory foods that create inflammation and make the pain cycle worse.
Eliminate all grains in your cat’s diet, as well as foods in the nightshade family, such as potatoes, which are found in most grain-free cat foods. Grain-free processed diets aren’t carbohydrate-free, and carbs create an inflammatory response in cats.
Homeopathic remedies and nutraceuticals often work wonders for cats dealing with chronic pain, as does cannabidiol (CBD) oil. Many kitties also tolerate turmeric and omega-3 fatty acids, Esterified Fatty Acid Complex (EFAC), as well as boswellia added to their food, all of which help naturally reduce inflammation.
I recommend working with a holistic or integrative veterinarian to determine how to best treat your kitty’s chronic pain condition. As I mentioned earlier, once we discover the most effective alternative treatments for kitties with chronic painful conditions, we can begin to gradually reduce or even eliminate the need for painkilling drugs.