Arthritis in cats

Did you know that up to 90% of senior cats over the age of 12 will suffer with arthritis? This means that a large proportion of cats in the U.K. suffer with joint disease. However, many owners are not aware when their pet is affected.

What are the signs of arthritis?

It is not always easy to spot the subtle signs of arthritis in a cat. While you may be expecting those affected to yowl in pain, go off their food or walk with an exaggerated limp, this rarely happens. For most, they plod along without making a fuss and get on with their life as best they can.

Signs can be vague and may come and go which makes it tricky for an owner to pick up on the fact that there is something going on. We may notice that our cats hesitate before jumping, are less active and appear skinnier around their shoulders, backs and bums. Cats sometimes become grumpier and may find it harder to groom, causing their coat to become matted in those harder to reach spots.

Is there any treatment available?

While arthritis cannot be cured and will get progressively worse with time, there are things that we can do to help our cats out. Initially, it is important we have the diagnosis confirmed and we rule out the possibility that there is anything else going on. Many diseases that affect older cats can initially cause muscle wastage and we don’t want to miss something we can cure.

For most, treatment will consist of a few different things including:

  • Pain relief and anti-inflammatory medicine
  • Joint supplements containing joint protective ingredients such as Chondroitin Sulphate and Glucosamine
  • A joint supportive diet
  • Weight loss if required
  • Environmental modifications e.g. bigger litter trays with a smaller lip around them
  • Adjunctive therapies such as physiotherapy and acupuncture are available. These may be an option for some very placid cats but many will not tolerate these interventions

Cats have recently had a new injectable medication licenced for them which can be used even if they have other problems. This will no doubt help those that are poorly and those that hate medication.

The Bottom Line

Arthritis is a very common condition among felines and should be something that is on our radar. The sooner we pick up on signs the earlier we can start treatment and make our cats more comfortable. If you have any concerns about your cat’s joint health, discuss this with your vet today.

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