Is your cat slowing down? Does he seem more hesitant to jump up or down, climb stairs, or play? Does she seem stiff when waking up from a nap?
If so, your cat may be a candidate for a free clinical study conducted by the Comparative Pain Research Laboratory at North Carolina State University’s Veterinary Health and Wellness Center (VHWC).
The 11-week study is designed to evaluate the use of owner-based assessments for monitoring arthritis-associated chronic pain in cats, and the use of a low-dose nonsteroidal medication to treat this pain.
Study participants must be indoor-only cats not currently receiving steroids or pain medication. After completing a qualifying telephone interview,
owners will be scheduled for a medical screening with their cat, which will include blood work and urinalysis, physical and orthopedic examinations, and a complete set of X-rays—all at no cost to the owner.
Participants will then be fitted with an activity monitor—a quarter-sized device secured to the collar—for the duration of the study. Owners will need to visit the the VHWC three times during the study to complete questionnaires about their cat’s progress. At these visits, owners will be provided with a daily oral medication (can be given on food) which will be either a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication or placebo. At the end of the study, owners and their cats will visit the VHWC for a final appointment to include complete blood work, urinalysis, and physical examination—also at no cost to the owner.
“At present, there are no approved drugs for chronic pain in the cat,” says Dr. Duncan Lascelles, a professor of surgery and pain management who directs the Comparative Pain Research Lab. “One reason for this is that there are no validated ways of determining if a cat is suffering from musculoskeletal pain. The questionnaire developed by this study will allow veterinarians to determine if a cat is experiencing pain, the level of that pain, and effectiveness of treatment.”
According to Dr. Lascelles, the work the Comparative Pain Research Laboratory has been able to do during the last few years has been accomplished with help and participation from cat lovers, owners, and veterinarians. “This collaboration has dramatically changed our knowledge of chronic pain assessment and treatment in the cat,” says Dr. Lascelles. “The current effort will continue to build our knowledge base.”
The Veterinary Health and Wellness Center is a component of the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Veterinary Health Complex on NC State University’s Centennial Biomedical Campus.