What is arthritis in cats? This is a question often asked by pet parents of elderly felines! Many pet owners don’t realise their cats are just as prone to the disease as humans and dogs. In this article you’ll discover all about arthritis and cats, including what causes it. You’ll learn exactly what arthritis is and why it’s harder to spot in cats. Plus, subtle signs you should be on the lookout for.
You’ll learn how the disease is diagnosed and common treatments your vet may prescribe. We’ll also look at natural treatments for arthritis and if they really work. You’ll also discover tips to make your cat’s life more comfortable. Seeing your kitty in pain can be distressing but making a few simple changes in your home can make all the difference.
Is arthritis in cats the same as in dogs and people?
We’re all familiar with older folk suffering arthritis as well as our canine friends. You may be wondering though if it’s the same in cats. Osteoarthritis is a gradual wearing away of cartilage supporting the joints. This form of the disease is found in cats, but more research is needed to determine if it’s the same as in people and dogs.
It’s only in recent years arthritis in cats has been diagnosed. The use of radiography in modern vetinary clinics has allowed detailed images of your cats joints to be viewed. Scientists found that over 90% of cats in middle age and senior years have some evidence of arthritis in their joints. This means you should be mindfull of the disease once your kitty reaches about 10 years.
Signs of arthritis in cats (what you need to know)
It’s far easier to spot signs of arthritis in your dog as you take him out for daily walks. Your kitty however, does her own thing and takes herself off wherever she wants to go.You’ll soon know if your dog has painful joints as he’ll start limping and may show reluctance to go for a walk. Your cat will try and hide pain and unless you’re constantly monitoring her you may not notice anything is wrong.
A cat will show signs of discomfort in passive, subtle ways. Cats don’t usually vocalise pain unless it’s severe. You may start to notice she’s not jumping up on the sofa as much as she used to. Whereas the windowsill was once her favourite place to sit, she prefers lower level resting places these days.
Other signs your cat may be suffering from painful joints include peeing outside the litter box. Some boxes have high sides making them hard to use for cats with limited mobility. Your kitty may be grooming a lot less than she used to. Matted fur is common in long hair elderly cats. Painful, stiff joints make it hard for your fur baby to groom.
Treat your kitty to regular grooming sessions and remove any matts. You can read my article on how to groom your cat the right way.
What causes arthritis in cats?
There doesn’t appear to be any specific cause, but it’s far more common in elderly cats. Age related osteoarthritis is simply a result of wear and tear. As mentioned previously it’s a gradual deterioration of cartilage, allowing bones to rub against each other. Mobility becomes affected as your cat finds it painful to move the affected joints.
Other causes can include joint damage from accidents. Though arthritis won’t develop for some time, it may start to show later on in your cat’s life. There are some breeds of cat more likely to develop arthritis than others. If you are adopting a persian, siamese, or himalayan you need to bear this in mind.
I know that choosing your perfect kitty shouldn’t be based on whether she’ll get arthritis or not, but it should be something to be aware of. Joint problems can be inherited so if you’re buying through a breeder you should ask about the cat’s background.
Obesity can also be a cause of arthritis. Carrying excess weight puts a strain on joints, causing pain and discomfort. This is exactly the same for overweight people. If your kitty has gained too much weight, your vet will advise on diet. Unfortunately, obese pets like obese people are becoming more common.
How is arthritis in cats diagnosed?
Arthritis in cats is primarily diagnosed by the owner. Cats are good at covering up pain and it’s only when you start noticing signs such limping you become aware. While lameness may be an obvious sign of arthritis, sudden lameness can be the result of an accident. If your cat goes outside there’s a chance she may have been fighting, or even knocked by a car.
Cats sometimes miss a jump and land awkwardly. A gradual onset of lameness in an older cat on the other hand is likely to be arthritis. Your cat may also start flinching when you pet certain parts of her body .Ingrown toenails can make walking painful, giving similar symptoms to arthritis. They’re not only experienced by humans, and it’s quite possible this may be the cause of your cats limping.
The vet may look at your cats paws for any signs of ingrown or outgrown toenails during an examination. It may also be worth bearing in mind that ingrown toenails are more common in senior cats. Diagnosis of arthritis is often done by feeling your cat’s joints for any swelling or discomfort. In some case blood tests and xrays may also be carried out to rule out other conditions.
Treatment of arthritis in cats
If your cat shows a lot of pain and discomfort she may be prescribed anti-inflammatories or pain killers. These will be given under strict supervision and you must follow your vet’s instructions carefully. Hills prescription diet for feline weight loss is advertised as reducing body fat by 20% in just 3 months. Losing weight will help reduce pressure on your cat’s joints.
Stiff, painful joints make exercising uncomfortable for your cat. She’ll be more likely to spend her time resting than running around outside. Supplements can be very effective in managing arthritis but take time to work. Cosequin cat sprinkles are available in natural chicken flavour. The tub comes with 80 capsules containing glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.
You simply break open the capsules and sprinkle onto your cat’s food. As they only suggest one capsule every other day, each tub should last about 5 months. There are many excellent reviews with pet owners reporting great improvement in their cat’s mobility. Some even report improvements in bladder problems.
You need to allow at least 2 months before seeing any noticeable changes. You can also get cosequin chews. These contain omega 3 and are a good alternative.
Making life easier for your cat
You can improve your cat’s quality of life by making a few simple changes to her environment. Providing a warm, cosy place to sleep will make her feel comfortable. Cat beds are available that hang on to the side of radiators. These are ideal in winter months, providing heat and shelter from draughts.
Your kitty doesn’t need to be excluded from your bed or the sofa. Make life easier by providing a few steps for her. You could either make them yourself if you’re handy at DIY, or buy them. Steps made for cats are readily available and can make a huge difference to your kitty’s wellbeing.
Cats love watching the world go by on a sunny windowsill, and your arthritic feline can still enjoy this pleasure. Even with painful joints, your cat can look out the window with a comfortable perch to rest on. New cat condos premier window perch stands at 2 ft high. You don’t need to worry about putting it together as it comes ready assembled.
It’s made from solid wood and covered with household quality carpet. The top perch is made in a hammock shape, making it a comfortable place to rest and stretch. The scratching pole is covered in unoiled sisal and you have a choice of colours. This makes it easy for matching in with your decor.
If your kitty finds it hard to climb into her litter box, consider getting a low sided one. There are plenty available and you’ll save a lot of time from mopping up accidents! Cat flaps can present problems with arthritic seniors. You may need to start letting her in and out through your front door.
Once her confidence has gone it’s unlikely she’ll continue to use the cat flap. If you’re going to be out all day it may be better to keep her inside. Your kitty needs shelter and if you don’t want to keep her indoors you’ll need to provide somewhere she can retreat to.
Access to a shed or garage is ideal. Make sure you provide a cosy blanket for her to sleep on that’s away from any draughts. Don’t leave your cat outside if it’s cold or wet. The weather can affect your kitty’s joints just the same as in people
Maintaining your cat’s quality of life
Just because your cat is suffering from arthritis doesn’t mean her life is over. Animals are very good at adapting and will find alternative ways to do things. Giving your kitty a helping hand will make the process of adapting easier, and still allow her to enjoy her favourite activities!
In this post you’ve learned what is arthritis in cats and why it’s similar to osteoarthritis in humans. You’ve discovered what causes it as well as signs to watch for. We’ve looked at how arthritis is commonly diagnosed in felines, plus treatments your vet may recommend. Caring for a cat with reduced mobility needn’t be a problem.
Use some of the ideas I’ve covered here to make moving around easier for your kitty as well as manage painful symptoms. Your cat may enjoy may more years of life with loving care, so don’t feel disheartened. If you’ve owned a cat with arthritis I’d love to hear about your experiences. Feel free to leave any comments below.
Wishing you a purrfect day:)