While arthritis is well recognized in dogs, many of us are not so good at realizing when our feline friends are developing cat arthritis. Cats are notorious at being able to hide any signs of pain or weakness until the problem is very advanced, and this makes detecting the subtle signs of osteoarthritis very difficult.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative, inflammatory condition of the joints that causes pain and reduced mobility. OA usually occurs in older animals and can be a result of old age and the 'wearing out' of joints, or secondary to an injury or developmental problem. Other types of arthritis such as septic arthritis or viral poly-arthritis can also occur in young cats, but these are not the focus of this post.
In cats, the signs of OA can be quite subtle. Reduced mobility or a reluctance to exercise may be initial signs of OA. A hesitation to jump onto things is often a typical sign of OA in cats. In some cases, cats may start toileting around the litter tray rather than in it, as climbing into the tray may prove too painful. Some owners report sensitivity or aggression when they are patting the cat, especially in certain areas such as the spine or hips.
Arthritis treatment in cats is fairly similar to that in dogs. Anti-inflammatory medications prescribed by the veterinarian may help alleviate pain and inflammation. Many of these drugs are processed by the kidneys, so these drugs should be used with caution in older cats, as kidney disease is fairly common in this species. Supplements such as omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and glucosamine may also help. There are a number of diets formulated to promote joint health, and these can also be considered. Providing the puss with a hot water bottle or heat mat in its bed every evening may help ease pain and stiffness in the morning.
Does your cat have arthritis? What do you do to ease the pain? Share your tips with us in the comment section.