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Arthritis in Your Cat: Signs, Causes & Treatment

What is arthritis?

Arthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, refers to inflammation and abnormal changes in a joint. These changes occur when cartilage is worn away faster than it can be replaced. The function of cartilage is to act as a cushioning material and protect the bones. When it is worn away joints become unstable which causes abnormal movement within the joints. Over time this abnormal movement erodes the cartilage that lines the joints and bone begins rubbing against bone creating chronic inflammation and pain.

Arthritis is a common condition seen in middle aged to senior cats and can be a source of chronic pain and can negatively affect your cat’s quality of life. Although arthritis is not curable, early treatment is key, without it your cat will continue to lose cartilage which may result in the need for more aggressive treatments like surgery.

 

Does your cat have arthritis? Signs to look out for

Arthritis can have serious effects on a cat’s health and mobility so looking out for the warning signs and symptoms is very important.

The first thing you will notice is that they find movement difficult and become reluctant to walk/run/jump. Some signs of arthritis in cats are like those of other serious conditions. Make sure and consult your veterinarian in one of our Arkvet clinics if you notice any of these signs.

 

  • Decreased activity
  • Trouble jumping on/off surfaces
  • Going to the toilet outside of the litter tray
  • Stiff movement when walking or limping
  • Reclusive behavior

 

What causes arthritis in cats?

 

There are certain risk factors which predispose cats to arthritis including;

 

  • Age: As cats age, their cartilage will begin to degenerate. Although more common in senior cats it is possible for younger cats to also suffer from arthritis
  • Breed: Certain breeds are more prone to arthritic changes and decreased mobility. These breeds include Himalayan, Persian and Siamese
  • Weight: Excess weight equals excess stress on the joints and cartilage which can lead to arthritis and joint health problems
  • Other risk factors include; Congenital or hereditary defects, accidents or trauma and infection

 

Treatment

The most important thing to remember when dealing with arthritis in your cat is that addressing the issue early is key to minimizing long term effects and ensuring the best quality of life.

Different treatments options which may be discussed including;

 

  • Nutrition: The food your cat eats plays an important role in overall health and well-being. Balanced nutrition is an essential part of an active, healthy lifestyle. There are certain prescription diets which your vet may recommend to you. These diets contain joint supplements to improve overall joint health and manage the weight of your cat
  • Medication: Supplements and/or prescription medication may be recommended by your vet
  • Surgery: In certain cases, surgery may be presented as an option by your vet