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New Osteoarthritis Drug Coming for Cats

Solensia approved by FDA for arthritis in cats.

Osteoarthritis is a tricky condition in cats. For one thing, they are a species well known for being stoic. That means they can hide the fact that they're suffering from arthritis pain until the condition is quite advanced. Learn more: "7 Signs That Your Cat May Have Arthritis."

This, of course, doesn't mean cats don't suffer from arthritis. They do, and eventually, they'll stop jumping, running, and playing like they used to. That condition can lead to weight gain, which is even harder on sore joints. It may surprise you to learn that up to 40% of cats show signs of osteoarthritis pain. Not only that, but in one study, the condition was found in 60% of cats over 6 years old and 90% in those over 12 (Zoetis Announces FDA Approval of Solensia (frunevetmag injection) to Control Osteoarthritis Pin in Cats, 2022).

Another tricky thing about this condition is that many pain medications are not safe for cats and can even result in death. There is a much wider range of medication types that can be used to treat arthritis in dogs than in cats.

Osteoarthritis Treatment for Cats Approved by FDA

Solensia, the brand name for the drug frunevetmab, is a monoclonal antibody treatment for use against osteoarthritis in cats, and it's been approved by the FDA. It will be available to US veterinarians in late 2022. It has been available to veterinarians in the European Union since May of 2021 and is the first monoclonal antibody treatment approved for use in animals. Solensia is marketed by Zoetis Petcare.

This treatment is a monthly injection that must be given by a veterinarian. In studies, Solensia improved the signs of pain in cats with arthritis. They were able to jump, play, and groom better than cats that didn't get the treatment.

What Is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis where the tissue in the joints gets worn down. Eventually, the bones will rub on each other. This causes pain and inflammation.

There is no way to reverse osteoarthritis, so any treatments for it must be aimed at decreasing the pain it causes.

What Is a Monoclonal Antibody Treatment?

Monoclonal antibody therapies work by finding and attaching to certain proteins in the body. In the case of Solensia, it binds to a protein in a cat's body called NGF (nerve growth factor). When the Solensia is bound to that protein, it blocks pain signals from getting through to the brain.

Some scientists are hopeful that Solensia's approval will spur more breakthroughs for monoclonal antibody treatments for other conditions.

Side Effects and Drug Interactions of Solensia

The possible side effects noticed in cats during studies of Solensia included:

  • Inflammation and pain at the injection site
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Itchy skin
  • Scabbing

Cats that are breeding, pregnant, or lactating shouldn't get Solensia, nor should those with a known allergy to frunevetmab. Additionally, be sure to tell your veterinarian about any other medications your cat is on, so the doctor can best advise you on whether the medication is right for them.

Solensia will be available in late 2022, so if you think it may help your cat, ask your veterinarian to let you know when they have it in stock.

Works Cited

  1. Zoetis Announces FDA Approval of Solensia (frunevetmag injection) to Control Osteoarthritis Pin in Cats. (2022, January 13). Retrieved from

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