Cats

Arthritis In Cats: Signs & How To Help

tabby cat looking at camera

Cat Joint Pain: Could It Be Feline Arthritis?

Estimated Read Time: 4 ½ minutes

 

Just like humans and dogs, cats can also experience the discomfort and limitations of arthritis in their lifetime. Because of science and advances in medical and veterinary treatment, we, along with our pets, are living longer which means a rise in age-related conditions like joint inflammation and arthritic pain.

Cat arthritis is one of the most common ailments older cats can get, with an estimated 90% of felines over the age of 12 experiencing it in at least one joint. So, if you’re a kitty owner it’s imperative you know the signs and start taking precautions now to support the prevention of this condition taking hold…

So, how do you spot the symptoms of arthritis in cats? What can you do to help alleviate the symptoms of arthritis in cats? And, are joint and cat arthritis supplements effective in preventing joint pain in cats? Let’s find out!

What Causes Arthritis In Cats?

Arthritis occurs when the normal cartilage that cushions the joints becomes worn and degenerates. This results in discomfort, pain, inflammation and ongoing damage as the joints now rub together.

Unfortunately, it isn’t 100% clear as to what causes arthritis in cats, but there are some factors that can predispose or exacerbate the likelihood of developing it:

  • Their breed
    Maine Coon, Persian and Siamese cats are more prone to develop hip dysplasia, a joint condition affecting the pelvis. Abyssinian and Devon Rex breeds are more likely to dislocate their kneecaps (patella lunation) and Scottish Folds are extremely likely to experience arthritis due to a breed issue regarding cartilage abnormalities. Knowing your breed is already predisposed to joint issues is a great perk for pet parents when it comes to prevention preparation and management.

  • Obesity
    Excess weight will always cause more pressure on joints unnecessarily, so keep your cat’s weight where it should be so as not to stress out their maturing bones.

  • Injury/Trauma
    If they’ve been in a catfight, or fallen or gotten stuck and have fractured, broken or dislocated bones in the past, this can cause the bones to heal incorrectly, and thus cause the cartilage cushioning the joints to break down quicker.

  • Acromegaly
    A very unusual condition, but still something to consider nonetheless: acromegaly is when their pituitary gland grows a tumor that triggers it to secrete too much of a growth hormone. This can lead to joint pain, inflammation, and arthritic symptoms.

What Are The Signs Of Arthritis In Cats?

fluffy tabby laying in the grass

Arthritis in cats presents very differently from how it does in dogs. Signs to look for include:

  • Over-grooming (Usually a particular joint/area that’s causing discomfort)
  • Reduced grooming (If their fur is matted or unkempt, particularly around their rear, this will be because those areas are now too tricky to reach)
  • Hot, swollen joints
  • More irritable/grumpy with humans and other animals
  • Avoiding interacting with other animals
  • Increased rest/sleep time
  • Sleeping in different places that are probably easier to access
  • Prominent shoulder blades (indicating muscle wastage)
  • Limping
  • Stiffness
  • Difficulty, reluctance, or hesitating around jumping
  • Difficulty using the stairs, litter tray, and/or cat flap

If you notice any of the above symptoms, it’s time to notify your vet and obtain a diagnosis.

How To Prevent And Manage Arthritis In Cats

Cat Arthritis Supplements

Using a joint supplement that contains glucosamine can be effective in slowing down the progression of arthritis, delay it from developing and help ease off symptoms in those that arthritis is already present in. 

Look for a cat specific one that contains fatty acids like omega 3, 6 and 9 and glucosamine in the formula. Fatty acids provide vital nutrients for everyday wellbeing, strong muscles, and healthy hips and joints which are essential for supporting your cat as they mature. Glucosamine helps maintain synovial fluid that lubricates joints, helping to lessen friction during movement, whether sudden or sustained – fighting soreness and joint pain in both the short and long term for your feline. A good supplement from a reputable brand will help aid in maintaining tissue pliability and joint fluid viscosity, ensuring that your cat’s joints stay flexible and lubricated – promoting comfort and physicality!

Related Read

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Arthritis In Cats: Optimize Their Environment & Manage Their Weight

When it comes to minimizing the likelihood of developing arthritis in cats, it’s essential you manage your kitty’s diet to prevent them from gaining unnecessary weight and putting excess pressure on their joints. If your cat is overweight, talk to your vet who can help you put a dietary plan in place to help them shed some pounds.

Other things you can do to help your cat with joint pain, or as they move into their maturer years, include small home adaptations and grooming assistance:

  • If they’re struggling to maintain their claw length due to joint pain, help them out with regular cutting. This will keep their weight distribution even across their joints.

  • Food, water, and litter trays should be on the ground floor of your home, especially if they’re struggling to climb stairs.
    Petlab Co. Pro Tip: Make sure your litter tray has low sides, so there isn’t a big step they need to climb over to go to the toilet.

  • Cats hate not being able to groom, so if they’re struggling to reach some areas, help them out with a gentle brush.

  • Make sure your cat flap doesn’t require too much pushing to open. You may need to tie it up or start opening and closing the door when they ask.

  • Consider a ramp leading to their favorite spots.

  • Invest in a soft and comfortable bed in an igloo style. Older cats love feeling secure, safe, and warm and a bed with a roof can help here.

  • Use raised food bowls so they don’t have to crouch/curl up to feed. Bending down can be painful for arthritic kitties.
    Petlab Co. Pro Tip: A tall, wide water glass can be used instead of a formal looking water bowl!

  • Keep your cat warm! Cold joints can exacerbate any pain, so keep their bed away from draughts, provide lots of blankets in their bed, dry them gently when they get wet and consider a heating pad underneath their sleeping area in winter months.

  • Keep them active! Maintaining their muscle strength will take the excess strain off their joints as well as keep their weight down. Make sure they have access to toys and playtime with you, especially if they’re an indoor cat.

Arthritis In Cats: Consider Medication

white and brown cat laying on the floor

If your cat is struggling with arthritis, your vet may suggest anti-inflammatory medication and pain relief suitable for cats (never give a cat medication intended for humans!).

Unlike dogs, cats are more reluctant when it comes to treatments like hydrotherapy and acupuncture. Your vet may suggest these dependent on your cat’s temperament, but more often than not non-medicated treatment for joint pain will cause more distress than it will serve your cat.

In severe cases, fusion surgery may also be considered. This is where they fuse a joint together to stop it from rubbing and causing your kitty unbearable pain.

Whatever you do, always instinctively choose the kindest option for your pet and chat through all your concerns regarding any treatment with your vet.

Related Read

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MEET THE AUTHOR

Sarah Milton

Comes from a family of animal lovers and got to grow up with a menagerie of pets! I believe owning a pet is a privilege and I love researching and creating informative, fun content for fellow pet owners to help their furry friends have the happiest and healthiest lives. When I’m not writing blogs, you can find me sharing a walk with my pet dachshund or at a yoga class!



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