Glucosamine for Cats

Adult cat laying on carpet.
Adult cat laying on carpet. (Image: Kichigin/iStock/Getty Images)

If you've reached the point in life where you suffer some arthritic aches and pains, your middle-aged to senior cat probably is undergoing the same experience. Giving your aging feline glucosamine can help to restore mobility and make him more comfortable. It's not necessarily a cure-all. A cat with severe degenerative joint disease probably needs medication, rather than a "nutriceutical," or food that aids health. While relatively safe, don't give your cat glucosamine supplements without consulting your vet.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate for Cats

Glucosamine comes in three basic forms: sulfate, hydrochloride and N-acetylglucosamine. All three types work, but the first two generally are more effective. While chondroitin sulfate isn't always included in feline glucosamine products, it's a common combination. You might find other arthritis-fighters such as methyl sulfonyl methane or omega-3 fatty acids added to the mix. While glucosamine usually is well-absorbed by felines, chondroitin isn't absorbed quite as easily.

How It Works

Both glucosamine and chondroitin naturally occur in cartilage. Supplementing Kitty with these nutriceuticals -- primarily sourced from chitin in sea mollusks -- helps to repair aging cartilage, and can slow the breakdown process in felines. Both substances have anti-inflammatory components, and generally are safer than the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories your vet might prescribe if your cat is in serious pain. However, NSAIDs are designed to relieve pain quickly -- glucosamine and chondroitin require a cumulative buildup over a period of a month or more.

Cosequin for Cats

While there's no shortage of feline glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate products available, Cosequin for Cats is the brand most likely recommended and sold by veterinarians. Manufactured by Nutramax Laboratories, Cosequin is produced to meet pharmaceutical industry standards. Available in a capsule, which you open and sprinkle on your cat's food, dosage depends on the animal's weight. Every Cosequin for Cats capsule includes a minimum of 125 milligrams of glucosamine hydrochloride and 100 milligrams sodium chondroitin sulfate. It can take several weeks for your cat to show joint improvement after regular Cosequin administration. Once he's improved, your vet might suggest reducing the level necessary for maintenance.

Feline Cystitis Treatment

While most cats receive glucosamine to aid joint issues, that's not the only use for this supplement. If your cat suffers from feline cystitis, it's possible that adding glucosamine and chondroitin to his diet can help to heal bladder lining issues. The feline bladder is lined with glycosaminoglycans, similar to those in cat cartilage. Cats diagnosed with feline cystitis usually display "inappropriate elimination." They aren't doing this misbehave. It hurts to urinate, so they'll pee, often in small amounts containing blood, on tile or other hard surfaces. Always ask your vet before giving your cat glucosamine for any bladder issues.

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