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Dear Christopher Cat

Butterball, my 19-year-old cat, has arthritis. During these hard economic times, I can’t afford to take him to the vet.

Can you recommend an inexpensive, non-toxic ointment I can apply to his joints? I can’t shop on the Internet because I don’t have a computer, so the product must be available at local stores.

Christopher Responds

We cats usually lick off ointments applied to our bodies, so I wouldn’t recommend you put anything on the skin over Butterball’s stiff, painful joints.

Instead, give him something by mouth. Two products have helped my arthritis, and both are available without a prescription at pet supply stores and human health product stores.

The first is a supplement that contains glucosamine and chondroitin. These ingredients rebuild and protect joint cartilage and nourish joint fluid.

I particularly like Cosequin for Cats (a powder you mix into canned cat food or a bit of meat baby food) and Glyco-Flex for Cats (available as soft, chewable treats and tablets you can crumble on food.)

The second is fish oil with omega-3 fatty acids, which decrease inflammation within arthritic joints.

If Butterball is truly a “butterball,” one of the best things you can do to diminish his joint pain is to help him lose excess weight. Also, offer him a litter box with low sides, and set up a ramp to ease his climb onto the couch.

Finally, talk with your veterinarian before you give Butterball Tylenol, aspirin or any other medication commonly taken by people with arthritis, because many are toxic to us cats.

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