Osteoarthritis (OA) is a progressive, debilitating disease that has been reported in captive exotic cats, but there  are few reports on management.This report studied a 7.5-year-old male Bengal tiger with moderate weight-bearing lameness of the right hindlimb.There was pronounced atrophy of the gluteal,quadriceps, and hip-extensor muscle groups. Radiographs revealed marked osteodegenerative changes to the right coxofemoral  joint and narrowing of the joint space,with an osteophytic reaction along the acetabular rim and femoral head.  Similar but less severe changes were also noted on the left joint.Management was started with meloxicam  given orally at 0.1 mg/kg 3 times weekly and weekly injections of a semisynthetic sodium pentosan polysul-fate. There was some clinical improvement over the next 4 months. Eventually,bilateral surgical denervation of  the coxofemoral joints was performed.The tiger could walk on recovery; within 1 week, it was ambulating with  great extension of the hindlimbs and seemed more comfortable. Meloxicam appears to be an effective therapy  for chronic OA in large cats,but long-term management with surgical denervation should also be considered. 

COMMENTARY:Only a few products are marketed for pain control in domestic cats and none for exotic feline  species.Meloxicam is approved for single use in domestic cats and has shown good clinical efficacy for the  treatment of osteoarthritis and other painful conditions in large felids.As with all NSAIDs,concerns about long-  term use necessitate finding complementary methods,such as the surgical denervation in this case.

Meloxicam and surgical denervation of the coxofemoral joint for the treatment of degenerative osteoarthritis in a Bengal tiger  (Panthera tigris tigris).Whiteside DP,Remedios AM,Black SR,Finn-Bodner ST.J  ZOO WILDLIFE MED37:416-419,2006.