Glucosamine for cats is used to treat many of the same types of bone and age-related symptoms that it is used for in other animals such as dogs and horses, as well as in people. Cats in particular are prone to developing arthritis as they age, as well as having feline hip dysplasia and inflammatory bowel disease. While glucosamine is a basic building block of cartilage around joints in animals, taking glucosamine supplements is not clinically shown to rebuild this cartilage. Instead, glucosamine for cats provides a form of analgesic relief to joint pain, and may also contribute to natural processes of joint lubrication and health.
There are generally three chemical forms in which glucosamine for cats comes. These include glucosamine sulfate, glucosmaine hydrochloride, and N-acetylglucosamine, with the latter compound being the one most effective for treating inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in cats. IBD can occur in cats of any age, but is most common in older cats where the cell turnover rate in the gastrointestinal tract can be three times higher than normal, causing symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, as well as weight loss and lethargy associated with a loss of appetite. While there are many causes of IBD in cats, one of the results of the disorder is that the cat's body can no longer produce N-acetylglucosamine on its own, and supplements are therefore meant to make up for this deficiency. Supplements of glucosamine for cats that contain this particular form of the compound are known to treat conditions related to IBD as well, such as bladder disorders and chronic respiratory disease.
Specific bone and skeletal structure disorders can benefit from various formulations of glucosamine for cats. These include arthritis and hip dysplasia, which involve deterioration of joint cartilage with age or genetic deformities in the hips. The glucosamine compounds in this case act in numerous ways to ease pain, stimulate the body to naturally rebuild cartilage, and increase the levels of synovial fluids in joints that make them move in a more frictionless and pain-free manner.
Since glucosamine for cats is also produced naturally in the body at some level and each cat's health is a unique situation, the uses of glucosamine, or determining the glucosamine dosage that will be most effective, is debatable. Some cats will show very little improvement from treatments, while others may benefit greatly, but, overall, the side effects of glucosamine supplements are very minimal to nonexistent. The main area of concern is with diabetic cats, since glucosamine is a form of aminosugar made from glutamine and glucose. It is possible that blood sugar levels might be raised in diabetic cats taking such supplements, so their condition should be monitored carefully and this may require increasing the level of insulin that they are given to treat their diabetes.