One of the most well-known pet and human supplements is Glucosamine. It has been proven and tested for arthritis and joint inflammation in dogs and cats. In cats, it has been a life saver since there are few safe alternatives and pharmaceuticals that work on painful kitties. Did you know that your senior cat might benefit from glucosamine supplements to aid in preventing feline lower urinary tract disease? In fact, glucosamine helps protect the lining of the bladder as observed in clinical practice.
Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) is a group of conditions that cause difficulty urinating and could result in a complete blockage of the urethra. Among these conditions are infections, cystitis, urinary stones, and cancer.
Regardless of the cause of FLUTD, the symptoms are similar. The affected cat will continuously visit the litter box, trying to relieve his/her bladder. Sometimes the cats find a way to ask for help by urinating in abnormal places, there may be blood clots or red-tinged urine. Most cats with FLUTD overgroom and pull their fur or lick their urethras frequently. They might also become loud and vocalize in pain while attempting to urinate. A cat exhibiting these symptoms constitutes an emergency and needs to seek veterinary care immediately for diagnosis and treatment. The most serious type of FLUTD is a complete urinary blockage because it could be fatal!. Your veterinarian will diagnose the actual cause of your cat’s problem by performing a urinalysis and a physical examination. Bloodwork will reveal if the kidneys are also involved.
How can glucosamine help? It is naturally in the body and is found in healthy cartilage. As cats age, less glucosamine is produced, and supplementation aids to preserve the surface from wear and tear. Glucosamine supplements are produced either from shellfish or in a laboratory from fermented corn. Most nutraceuticals combine glucosamine with chondroitin because in some human studies they have improved the mucopolysaccharides lining integrity (glucosamine sulfate, sodium hyaluronate, and chondroitin sulfate) and reduced bladder wall inflammation. Other feline-friendly joint formulas add MSM which is a powerful antioxidant that relieves pain, swelling, and inflammation. Another usual complementary natural substance is Hyaluronic Acid which can be found in animal cartilage and synovial fluid. Because glucosamine is safe, it is often prescribed for off-label use for cats that suffer from FLUTD. The only cats that should not use glucosamine are the ones suffering from Diabetes. It might take 4-6 weeks for the full benefits of supplementation to be obvious so this is a preventative measure, not a treatment for an acute issue.
Nutramax Laboratories, manufacturer of Cosequin for Cats, states its product “is the only joint health supplement brand shown effective, safe, and bioavailable in published, controlled U.S. studies.” However, there are multiple products including treats, pills, and powders that include glucosamine. Most can be hidden in some canned food. If your cat has had an episode of FLUTD, consider asking your veterinarian if supplementing with a glucosamine nutraceutical is indicated for the prevention of a recurrence.