Animal Pain Awareness Month: Treating Loki’s Immune-Mediated Polyarthritis

Immune-mediated polyarthritis is a debilitating condition in cats that can end up requiring lifelong management. Read more to learn how we treated our kitten Loki's immune-mediated polyarthritis and find out what steps you can take to make life easier for a cat with IMPA.

Cats hide their pain well, but for Animal Pain Awareness Month, we take a closer look at a health problem that hits close to home.

It happened in a matter of hours. That morning, Loki the Therapy Cat was a happy, playful kitten. By that afternoon, he was curled up, in pain, and unable to move.

Cats are really good at disguising their pain. A prime example would be my cat Misha, but hers is a tale I will have to tell later this month.

Loki the Therapy Cat (who is actually still a kitten) developed crippling arthritis in mere hours. We were all incredibly puzzled, and we immediately took him to the vet. The diagnosis? Immune-mediated polyarthritis.

What Is Polyarthritis?

I should be more specific: immune-mediated polyarthritis was the vet’s most likely bet. We never did get a 100% sure diagnosis for him, but the symptoms for this particular ‘strain’ were there.

Polyarthritis is when pain and inflammation in the form of arthritis attack multiple joints. “Immune-mediated” means that it is brought on by an abnormal response from the cat’s immune system. Basically, your cat’s immune system is attacking the cat’s own joint cartilage.

Symptoms Of Immune-Mediated Polyarthritis

With Loki, the main symptoms were a drastic decrease in activity and movement, but he also cried out whenever we touched him. He wouldn’t even move when placed on the floor of the examination room. This is a very active, very mischievous kitten we’re talking about.

The arthritis quickly took over his body. It started with a slight limp, then difficulty walking, and then a cease of movement altogether.

Other visible symptoms of immune-mediated polyarthritis include:

  • Decrease in range of motion
  • Stiffness/Lameness
  • Shifting of pain from one limb to another
  • Cracking of the joints
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite

It’s important to take your cat into the vet right away if you notice these symptoms.

Treatment For Immune-Mediated Polyarthritis

In a matter of hours, little kitten Loki could barely move. He cried out whenever we touched him or tried to pick him up, and soon he stopped walking altogether. Keep reading to find out how he healed up and became pain free, and what you can do to keep the same thing from happening to your cat.
To help Loki recover, we made a bed out of his carrier and placed a bowl of water right by him so he wouldn’t have to walk to get to it.

Immune-mediated polyarthritis is sometimes a lifelong condition in which the cat suffers relapses. Physical therapy can be beneficial in severe cases, but most cats with IMPA are put on anti-inflammatory medications. This calms the immune response and gets your cat’s body back to normal.

If you catch IMPA early enough, your cat has a much better chance of remission. Loki’s immune-mediated polyarthritis cleared right up as soon as we gave him his medications. This was thanks, in part, to how quickly we got him into the vet.

Now that his arthritis has cleared up, I try to give him a daily supplement of turmeric or coconut oil. Both are anti-inflammatory and are safe for cats in small doses. DO NOT give your cat over-the-counter pain medications from your medicine cabinet, as many of these are poisonous to cats, if not lethal.

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8 Thoughts to “Animal Pain Awareness Month: Treating Loki’s Immune-Mediated Polyarthritis”

  1. So gald Loki is feeling himself again & that you got him some help right away when you noticed he wasn’t getting around well. Sometimes humans don’t realize when we kitties are in distress or uncomfortable. I’m sure Loki thanks you for being so observant!

    1. Exactly. Some cats are better at hiding pain than others, so it’s important to educate your hooman on what signs to look out for!

  2. Poor Loki,
    I I had not heard of this problem before. I am glad to hear he is feeling better.
    Yael from Playing In Catnip

    1. Neither had I. 🙁 I knew that cats could develop arthritis, but I never thought a kitten that young could, especially in a matter of hours. It was so scary!

  3. Poor Loki. I am glad he is doing better though.

    1. Thank you, Ellen! We’re glad too. 🙂

  4. Poor Loki to have to go that so young.

    Hope he is better very soon 🙂

    Purrs xx
    Athena and Marie

    1. He is! He hasn’t had a relapse yet, which is good. Hopefully the anti-inflammatory supplements keep it that way.

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