Saturday, June 8, 2024

Understanding Arthritis in Cats

As pet parents, we will do anything for our cats and always want to ensure they stay happy and healthy. Cats, like people, can develop arthritis in their joints, making it painful to move and jump. Unfortunately, cats are very good at hiding pain, and this painful condition can exist for years without even the most vigilant cat owner recognizing the symptoms. Below, let’s take a closer look at what arthritis looks like in cats and understand how you can offer fast and effective treatment for your furry feline.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a condition that impacts the joints and is usually considered a degenerative disease that worsens with age. This disease forms when the ordinarily soft and squishy cartilage found in the joints is worn away. Usually, the cartilage helps to cushion your cat’s impact, but when the cartilage is thinned or missing, your cat suffers from painful bone-on-bone contact. Arthritis can be caused by excessive activity, genetics, obesity, or certain joint deformities like hip or elbow dysplasia that may cause a high amount of friction or rubbing in the joint.

What Are Common Signs of Arthritis?

Compared to other animals, arthritis in cats is difficult to diagnose and detect. Cats are very good at masking their symptoms even when they are in pain. Unfortunately, even the best cat owners may have a cat suffering from arthritis for years and not be aware. If you notice even slight changes in your cat’s behavior, it may be time to contact a veterinarian for a consultation and examination. Some common symptoms of arthritis in cats can include:

  • Reluctance to Jump: Cats are usually very nimble and can climb and bounce from place to place, whether sitting on your lap or perching atop their favorite cat tree. One of the biggest causes for concern in your cat is if you notice your cat has a reluctance to jump on to or off of particular objects. If your cat has arthritis, the sudden jarring motion when they land after a jump could be painful.
  • Litter Box Trouble: Your cat may have accidents just outside the litter box. This problem could be a symptom of arthritis in your cat. Sometimes as arthritis develops, it can make the joints in the legs stiff and sore. Stepping over a litter box lip or edge may be too painful for your cat.
  • Limping: A sure sign that your cat is developing a joint condition that could be arthritis is if you notice your cat limping or favoring one leg over the other.
  • Irritability: If your cat is quietly suffering in pain, his attitude may change significantly. Your cat that was once loving and affectionate and happy to sit in your lap may be aloof or appear standoffish.

How is Arthritis Treated?

Arthritis is a degenerative disease that unfortunately gets worse with age. There is no cure for arthritis once it starts to develop, but there are ways to help treat and mitigate the impact of arthritis. Keep your cat at a comfortable and healthy weight. A healthy weight will relieve painful joints if they are under added stress from additional, unnecessary weight. Adding joint supplements to your cat’s diet can help lubricate the joints, making it easier to move and jump.

Further, there are several pain management techniques for animals that are suffering from arthritis. Talking with your veterinarian is the best way to find a solution to help mitigate pain caused by arthritis. There are many natural solutions, such as acupuncture and physical therapy, available that can help tremendously. Other solutions may include a low-dose pain medication to help mitigate arthritis symptoms in your cat.