Anesthesia; Pain Management
6th Annual Gulf-Atlantic Veterinary Conference
In cats, degenerative joint disease (DJD), gingivostomatitis, interstitial cystitis and some types of cancer are associated with long-term pain. DJD is more common than previously thought and up to 90 percent of aged cats show radiographic signs of the disease. Due to the nature of chronic pain, the behavioral changes can be insidious, subtle and therefore easily missed. Indeed, many owners assume these changes as inevitable with advancing age and put changes in activity and behavior down to “getting old” rather than “getting sore.” Chronic pain may also be present in the absence of ongoing clinical disease, for example pain that persists beyond the expected healing time of an acute disease process; examples of this include neuropathic pain following onychectomy, limb or tail amputation. As cats live longer, there has been an increased recognition of chronic pain and the negative impact on their quality of life (QoL). Pain recognition and measurement is the key to effective pain management. Owner evaluations are the mainstay of the assessment of chronic pain. Many of the tools for measuring chronic pain in humans measure its impact on the patient’s QoL and encompass physical and psychological aspects. There is a growing understanding of behaviors that may be related to musculoskeletal disease in cats and an owner-directed instrument for the assessment of chronic musculoskeletal pain in cats has been developed. What owners consider to be important for their cat’s QoL has been investigated. Treatment includes pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic approaches and integrative veterinary medicine can be very successful in cats with chronic pain. New treatments include monoclonal antibodies and stem cell therapies.