The non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug meloxicam significantly improves nighttime physical activity in cats with osteoarthritis (OA), indicating its potential as a pain reliever in this feline population, report Canadian researchers.
"Unalleviated chronic pain induces functional limitations, contributes to behavior troubles and loss of the human-animal bond leading potentially to pet euthanasia or surrender," said lead researcher Eric Troncy (University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada) in a press statement.
"The development of adapted therapy protocols to correctly treat arthritis-associated chronic pain will provide a better quality of life particularly in older cats and will in turn have a direct impact on owners, as their cat will be more active and sociable," he added.
Troncy and colleagues identified 39 cats with OA and six without based on radiographic and orthopedic examinations. These animals were then observed over a 3-week period to measure their gait, their activity levels, and their sensitivity to touch, while taking a placebo drug.
As published in The Veterinary Journal, the research team found that, overall, cats with OA were significantly more affected in peak vertical ground reaction force (PVF) analysis (an indication of limb impairment) than their counterparts without the disease.
The OA animals also had a significantly lower threshold for touch in the von Frey anesthesiometer-induced paw withdrawal analysis than those without the condition.
This finding suggests that "central sensitization (induced by continuous and intensive nociceptive input from the OA joint) is an underlying mechanism of pain in OA cats as is already thought in humans," say the researchers.
Animals were then randomly assigned to either continue receiving placebo, or to take meloxicam at a dose of 0.025, 0.040, or 0.050 mg/kg for 3 weeks.
While there was no overall significant treatment effect in PVF analyses for the cats' most severely affected limb, there was a significant increase in PVF for the 0.025 and 0.050 mg/kg meloxicam-treated cats during the night (17:00 to 06:58) compared with the placebo period.
Cats that received these two doses of meloxicam also had a higher accelerometer-based motor activity intensity (indicating activity levels) during the nighttime period compared with during the placebo phase of the study.
None of the treatment doses affected the von Frey anesthesiometer-induced paw withdrawal test results, report Troncy et al.
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