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Revolutionary treatment greatly extends the lives and happiness of cats

Osteoarthritis (OA) affects 45 percent of all cats, and over 90 percent of those older than 12. The condition is caused by the breakdown of cartilage cushion surrounding the joints, which makes the bones rub against each other, leading to chronic pain and decreased joint movement.  

The traditional medical treatments for cat arthritis consist of animal-specific nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), similar to ibuprofen. These drugs can only be used safely for a short period of time, and cannot be given to cats suffering from kidney disease (which is another very common cat affliction).

However, a new drug manufactured by the company Zoetis has now been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Solensia is a cat-specific monoclonal antibody that is injected by the veterinary under the skin once a month, and appears to be highly effective in diminishing the pains caused by OA and thus improving the animals’ mobility and overall quality of life. In two clinical trials, 77 percent of cat owners saw significant improvements in their pets after treatment with Solensia, compared to 67 percent in the placebo groups.

“Feline (arthritis) pain is typically undertreated because of a lack of effective solutions that are safe to use long-term, along with how difficult it can be for cat owners to administer oral medicines,” said Mike McFarland, chief medical officer at Zoetis. “The approval of Solensia is a significant step forward.”

“This is absolutely groundbreaking,” added Dr. Duncan Lascelles, a professor of Translational Pain Research and Surgery at the North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine. “I have been in pain research for 30 years and this is the most exciting development that has happened.”

“To be able to be mobile is so desperately important to the quality of life. Cats are described as needing 3D spaces. They need to move on the ground but they also need to be able to get to elevation.” 

“Finally, for the first time ever in the U.S., there’s a highly efficacious treatment to manage joint pain in cats. And therefore extend their life, extend their happiness, and extend that beautiful relationship between cats and their owners,” Dr. Lascelles concluded.  

By Andrei Ionescu, Staff Writer

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