As our feline friends age, it is not uncommon to start seeing signs of arthritis. Older cats may become more hesitant to jump up or down, may go more slowly up or down the stairs and just generally have reduced agility. They may sleep more, become less active and less playful. Of course, just becoming older can cause a reduction in activity, but many times this decline in agility is due to pain caused by osteoarthritis. Cats are not likely to cry out when they are pain, but will often become more quiet, less social and less active.
There have historically not been many good options for treating chronic pain in cats. Joint supplements like Dasuquin or Adequan injections can help to some degree, but there is now an exciting newer option that blocks pain by binding to a specific protein called nerve growth factor. Nerve growth factor, or NGF plays a role in inflammation and pain and is elevated in arthritic joints. Solensia is a monoclonal antibody that binds to and inactivates this protein. Solensia is an injection, given just under the skin, that is generally given once a month by your veterinarian to reduce arthritis pain.
Solensia has been used in other countries for a while now with success. It is more recently available in the U.S. and is available at our clinic. Because it targets only NGF it may be a safer choice than other drugs to control pain in cats and has shown promise in being highly effective in many cats.
Solensia shouldn’t be used in cats who are known to be hypersensitive to Frunevetmab, the main ingredient in Solensia. It also should not be used in cats who may become or are pregnant or nursing. The most common side effects are injection site pain, itchy skin and vomiting. So far, we have not seen much in the way of side effects in our clinic. Your cats’ veterinarian will discuss Solensia use and possible side effects with you before starting. After the 1st injection, subsequent injections can be done by a technician, so the only charge will be the monthly injection after the initial exam and consult has been done.
Solensia is not available over the counter or online and must be given at the veterinarians’ office. Most cats show improvement within the first 2-3 weeks, although some cats will not show visible improvement until a 2nd injection is given. Solensia does need to be repeated on a monthly basis to remain effective. A 3 month study reported 77% of cat owners seeing an improvement with Solensia. Most cats receive 1 vial of Solensia per dose, however cats that are over 15.5 lbs need 2 vials per dose which can make Solensia more expensive for those larger cats.
No one likes to see their pets in pain. There have been several effective pain medications that we have been able to use in dogs for quite some time, but few effective options for cats. We are excited to be able to offer a safe and effective option for cat owners!