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Arthritis (Septic) in Cats



After taking the blood and joint fluid samples and confirming a diagnosis of bacterial infection, antibiotics will be given to counter the infection. Which antibiotic will work best for your cat will depend on the results of the culture and sensitivity testing, both of which will tell your veterinarian about the microorganism involved in the joint infection.


The affected joint may need to be drained and washed to avoid further joint damage. In patients with chronic joint infections, surgery may be required to remove the debris and wash and clean the joint. A catheter is usually placed during surgery to allow continuous drainage for few days.


Arthroscopy -- a type of endoscope that is inserted into the joint through a small incision -- is another technique that can be used to allow for a close examination of the interior of the joint, and can also sometimes be used in the treatment of the interior of the joint. Compared to surgery, arthroscopy is a less invasive technique.


Identifying the source of the infection is very important for a successful and permanent resolution of the symptoms. If an infection is found in any other area of the body system, especially if it is found to be the source of the joint disease, treating the primary infection will as important as treating the joint infection. Your veterinarian may also take samples on daily basis from the fluid coming out of the joint to see if the infection is still present within the joint or not. Once fluid has stopped seeping from the affected joint the catheter will be removed.


Living and Management


Use of alternating cold and heat packing on the affected joint will help in promoting the blood flow and decreasing the swelling, thus promoting healing. This can be done at home. Your veterinarian will advise restricted movement for your cat until a complete resolution of the symptoms is achieved. You may consider cage rest for a short time, if it is difficult to keep your cat confined to one place. To make the recovery period easier for your cat, place the feeding dishes and litter box close to where your cat is resting so that it does not need to make a lot of effort.


If necessary, your veterinarian will also brief you on the proper care of the catheter that has been placed in the affected joint of your cat. Though many patients respond well to antibiotic therapy, in a few patients the infection may be more stubborn and long-term antibiotic treatment may be required. Affected cats usually respond to antibiotic treatment within 24-48 hours, but it may take 4-8 weeks or longer for some patients. Even if the symptoms do subside quickly, it is essential to finish the full course of the prescribed medications in order to ensure that the infection does not rebound.



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