by ANDREW M. STREIBER, DVM

Q:  My cat is turning nine this year and I’ve noticed that she hesitates to jump onto the places and perches she used to reach easily.  She has gained some weight recently and I’m wondering if this may be contributing to her change in behavior?

A:  Based on what you’ve described, I am inclined to believe that your cat may be suffering from a combination of issues.  First and foremost, her recent weight gain is likely the main factor.  That said, she may have also developed some arthritis in her hip joints.  Combined, these two factors have very likely contributed to her decreased mobility, and have the potential to become a vicious cycle: weight gain, exacerbated arthritis, decreased mobility, repeat.  Before this cycle gets beyond your control and your cat’s comfort level, I recommend three things.  First, a visit to your veterinarian for annual physical exam and Senior patient work-up (in cat years, she’s going to be 63!).  Next, reduced calorie intake (remember, like in us humans, calories consumed should never exceed calories burned).  Finally, the possible addition of the joint supplement, Dasuquin to your cat’s daily regimen.  I have had excellent results when using this in other feline patients.  It helps reduce the “itis” (inflammation) in arthritis, allowing my patients to feel less pain associated with their condition, increasing mobility and making it easier to shed recent weight gains.