How do you check a cat’s range of motion?

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Cats are remarkably flexible and capable of performing a wide range of motion. Ever see one trying to clean herself or just stretching? It’s amazing to witness the effortless way that she lifts her leg over her head.

Your veterinarian will be able to test your cat’s range of motion. However, if you notice the onset of mobility problems in your cat, such as a slowness to rise or move after waking from a nap, it could indicate that your cat has arthritis, injury, hip dysplasia or other joint degenerative disease. You might notice her limping, favoring one leg, walking slowly, or maybe just not able to lift her legs like she once did.

Here are some things you can do to improve the range of motion safely in your cat:
• Use glucosamine and chondroitin. Purchase specially formulated, flavored sprinkle capsules, made for cats from your veterinarian or a pet supply store. Open the capsules and mix these powdered supplements into your cat’s canned food daily, following the package dosing directions. These supplements help the cat’s body produce new cartilage to repair the damaged cartilage between its joints and inhibit damaging enzymes within the joint. Just be sure your do it under a veterinarian’s guidance, and discontinue use at the first signs of allergy.
NOTE: Some glucosamine is made from fish. If your pet is allergic to fish, ask your veterinarian about an alternative source.
• Supplement with Omega 3 fatty acids, such as salmon oil. Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that will help relieve inflammation of the cat’s joints, and improve mobility. Mix 1/2 teaspoon of salmon oil into your adult cat’s canned food daily.
• Watch your cat’s weight. Feed your cat a low-calorie food if she is overweight or obese, to help her lose weight gradually. The extra weight on your cat’s joints leads to more stress on her joints, inflammation and decreased mobility.
• Engage in regular play with your cat. Use an interactive toy on a string to give your cat some light exercise, keeping her ligaments and tendons flexible so that the joints do not become stiff.
• Provide therapeutic massage. Use your fingertips to knead the muscles around the joints to increase your cat’s range of motion. Massage the area with gentle, circular motions.

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