What is Cat Arthritis?
Cat arthritis is a degenerative joint disorder that causes strong inflammation throughout one or more joints.
It generally affects areas such as the tail joints or near the spine, but other joints — hip, knee, shoulders, ankle or elbow — are often affected as well.
Cats with feline arthritis will typically experience swelling in the joints. It can be uncomfortable or even painful.
Feline Arthritis Symptoms
It’s hard to tell if your kitty has the beginning of arthritis, because it can develop gradually and you may not notice the changes in her.
But an arthritic cat may eventually have several symptoms you can notice. They may be subtle, you may have to be observant.
Clinical signs include loss of appetite, weight loss, change in overall attitude, less grooming, going outside the litter pan, or less desire to jump on and off objects.
A cat suffering from arthritis may experience pain and discomfort, and you may be able to tell if yours is experiencing it.
For example, these symptoms can lead to a decrease in movement and what looks like awkward mobility when standing up, lying down or moving around.
They may appear stiff or become more lethargic than usual. They just don’t seem to be as energetic as they used to be.
Most affected cats will not limp. But you may notice that they are less inclined to jump, or the height they are willing to jump is significantly less than it used to be.
In extreme cases, you may notice a joint is swollen, looks red or a even a little misshapen. But because cats can usually live with it due to their small size and natural agility, it’s hard for the typical owner to notice irregularities like this.
How Does Cat Arthritis Start? Why Does it Happen Anyway?
Feline arthritis begins when their body begins to put too much pressure on their little tissues that make up their joints, cartilage and surrounding bone.
The joints and the normal cartilage cushion support their bones and they have to work hard to support an active little animal.
These little joints start to not function properly and they can begin to thicken, wear down or even tear.
Once these joints deteriorate, the neighboring bones will experience stress, and they may slowly wear away. This results in bone damage, inflammation, and pain when adjacent bones rub together.
Over time, and as a cat gets older, these joints can lead to permanent bone or joint deformity and problems with movement and getting around.
How is Feline Arthritis Diagnosed?
If your veterinarian suspects your kitty has feline arthritis, they can diagnose it by completing a thorough medical exam which will probably include x-rays.
However, a totally confident physical diagnosis, even by an experienced vet, is difficult in a cat patient.
Cats are tough to examine. Because first, they are so small.
Second, your cat probably does not like being manipulated, handled and examined by a vet. He may pull away or just remain immobile when the vet tries to examine him. They don’t always give respond or give clues as to what is uncomfortable.
Due to these obstacles, to diagnose osteoarthritis in cats, veterinarians will often simply rely on the cat owner’s observations that their pet is not moving around as well as it once did.
If you think you see symptoms in your cat, call your vet, discuss the situation and make an appointment.
Cat Arthritis Treatment
Treatment options are somewhat limited. It is a progressive disease, but it can be managed.
If your vet suspects your cat may have arthritis, they will recommend a course of treatment.
Treatment Options May Include These
- Encourage weight loss for overweight cats
- Increase exercise
- Elevate food and water bowls
- Use a lower-sided litter box
- Provide various soft bedding options
- Give anti-inflammatory and possibly steroid medication
- Change and improve diet
- Make it easier for them to access favorite resting spots without them needing to jump
- You may start a special diet designed for arthritis-affected cats.
A diet high in protein and fiber, but low in fat may help. By increasing the amount of fiber in her diet, she will be able to move better and protect her joints better too.
You may need to change any human food you give them too. Your vet will help you design the proper diet.
Treatment can include supplements or vitamins too.
Some vitamins can help stimulate the maintenance of joint cartilage. These vitamins include calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin C, niacin, biotin and potassium.
Maybe these nutrients can help stimulate the production of collagen and cartilage as well as prevent further damage to the bones.
Supplements that contain antioxidants may help prevent oxidative damage to the cells.
Taking all of these steps will help improve your cat’s flexibility, slow down further joint damage, reduce his discomfort and make his overall life easier and better.
What To Do
Remember, if you suspect your kitty is developing arthritis or seems to show symptoms of any type of distress or discomfort, scheduling a visit with your veterinarian is the best first step.
You’ll receive some good information and find out what to do next.
NOTE: Any content in this article is not to be considered medical, health, professional or veterinarian advice. This content is only for general information purposes. Be sure to consult with a licensed veterinarian before beginning, or deciding to not begin, any treatment option.