With the Olympic games going on in London right now, everyone is talking about the talented athletes competing there. There are so many of them and so many different sports where they can showcase their talents. And for those lucky few that win, there’s the coveted gold medal.
Not of all these athletes are two-legged either. There are equine competitors that perform in events like dressage, jumping and cross-country riding. These horses are equally as athletic and talented as their human counterparts. And many of them have their own sports doctors, just like their human partners.
In fact, the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation just recently welcomed 20 new diplomates and we at CATalyst Council heartily congratulate all of these veterinarians for this tremendous accomplishment.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, their mission is to advance “the art and science of veterinary medicine by promoting expertise in the structural, physiological, medical and surgical needs of athletic animals and the restoration of normal form and function after injury or illness.”
I realize that the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation focuses on horses and dogs. They do great work for our furry comrades too.
Still, I think it’s worth remembering that, even though I admit that we cats don’t compete on the same level as our canine and equine cohorts, we can still be very athletic. Anyone who has ever watched a cat playing or hunting will realize this is true.
Many of you may not even know that we have our own agility competitions. You should check one out if you get the chance. They’re a lot of fun to watch. In the meantime, you might enjoy this video of a kitten learning how to maneuver an agility course.
Okay, he doesn’t always get it right. I’ll give you that. But he’s still learning. And you have to admit, he’s cute as a button! How can anyone possibly resist that little ball of fluff? Really!
Now back to the serious stuff. We cats can also suffer from muscle, joint and other injuries that have the ability to affect our lifestyle and our comfort level. For instance, this study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association showed that 90% of cats over 12 years of age showed radiographic evidence of degenerative joint disease. That’s 9 out of 10 of us, folks!
What’s even more troubling is that we often don’t show our pain by limping like a dog or a horse might. A cat that’s hurting might just become less active. Or he (or she) might stop resting on elevated surfaces that he previously enjoyed because it hurts to try to jump up there now. Or we might get irritable, or even become aggressive when you touch somewhere that’s painful.
In either case, our humans often simply attribute these changes in our activity to getting older, never realizing that in actuality we’re hurting. It’s not your fault. It’s not always easy to tell the difference. But that’s why regular veterinary visits are so important for us. And if your cat seems less active than normal or isn’t doing the things he or she used to do, tell your veterinarian about it.
If we do have arthritis or some other muscle or joint disease, don’t despair. There are medications you and your veterinarian can use to help make us more comfortable. But the first step is recognizing that there is a problem.
Now, do you suppose I might be able to bring home a gold in one of those agility contests? When do you figure they’ll make feline agility an Olympic event? Hmmm….