Feline Osteoarthritis

Alleviate Feline Osteoarthritis Pain

Growing old is an inevitable part of life and happens to the best of us! With age comes both wisdom and, for most, a few aches and pains. As our pets age, they also feel less spry, a little stiffer, and sometimes sore. We may notice our pets are not as active and playful as they once were. Fortunately, most people feel a deep kinship for their animals and intend to utilize every available resource to ensure their elderly dog, cat, or other pet is as comfortable and content as possible well into their golden years. For many years, the veterinary field has had numerous options for chronic pain management in dogs. Cats have been more challenging. Finally, one product appears to be a game changer, Solensia (frunevetmab injection) from Zoetis Pharmaceuticals. This product is a novel, monthly monoclonal antibody injection proven to help decrease pain from osteoarthritis in cats.

How will I know if my cat needs Solensia?

Prior to controlling pain, one must recognize that it exists. In people it’s easy, we whine, we complain, we take a bottle of ibuprofen wherever we go, and let everyone around us know just how creaky and problematic our old bones are. However, when it comes to pain, cats demonstrate profound stoicism. Unfortunately, this “grin and bear it” attitude towards chronic pain can make it harder for a cat’s human companions to recognize when they are in need of a little help.

Zoetis has put together a list of questions that helps cat owners decide if their cats are showing signs consistent with osteoarthritis. This helpful guide asks questions such as: can your cat jump up on or down from tables or counters? Do they do it in one leap, or must they break the jump up into smaller levels? Does your cat race up and down the stairs, or more gingerly, bunny hopping and taking steps one at a time? Other questions focus on behavioral changes. Is your cat “grumpy” or less social? Has there been a change in litter box habits (for the worse)? Does your kitty just seem to be slowing down? Focusing on these questions can help you get a better assessment of your pet’s comfort. The reality is an estimated 60% of cats over six years of age are affected by osteoarthritis.

Where does Solensia fit in?

Solensia is a unique therapy whose active ingredient, Frunevetmab, is a cat-specific monoclonal antibody. This antibody is designed to recognize and attach to nerve growth factor (NGF), a protein involved in the regulation of pain. When NGF is produced in inflamed arthritic joints, the pain pathway is initiated. By binding to NGF, Frunevetmab prevents pain signals from reaching the brain, thus helping cats with osteoarthritis feel more comfortable.

How is Solensia used?

Solensia is a prescription product that is given subcutaneously (under the skin) as a monthly injection. Some cats will start to feel an improvement in their pain within three weeks of their first injection. For other cats, improvement is seen after the second injection. According to research conducted by Zoetis, over 75% of cat owners reported seeing a decrease in their cat’s osteoarthritis-related pain during a 3-month long study. Although helpful to many cats, some may not respond to Solensia. If, after two doses scheduled one month apart, your cat does not seem to improve, alternative pain management solutions are recommended.

Is Solensia safe?

Safety studies conducted by Zoetis indicate that Solensia is safe and well tolerated with few side effects, even at five times the recommended dose. Side effects are mild and usually are limited to mild itch or some scabbing around the face and head.

The manufacturer does recommend the following:

  • Do not give to cats less than one year of age or who weigh less than 2.5 kg
  • Do not give to pregnant cats or those who may be used as breeding animals
  • If vaccines are given the same day as Solensia, give them at different sites
  • Safety studies have not been performed in cats with severe kidney disease

If you are interested in trying Solensia for your dear kitty, we are here to help you work through the process. Several of our staff members have successfully used Solensia in their own cats and would be happy to discuss their positive experiences. Please give Longwood Veterinary Center a call to schedule an appointment. Your feline friends will thank you for it.

Written by: Corrina Snook Parsons VMD