Arthritis In Cats – Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

Cat arthritis is a frequent issue that leads to joint pain and discomfort during movement. Although there is no cure, you can help alleviate your cat's discomfort. If you observe your cat becoming less active or displaying pain while moving, contact your veterinarian promptly for an appointment.

What Is Arthritis In Cats?

Arthritis, also known as degenerative osteoarthritis or joint disease, is a chronic, painful condition that worsens over time and affects cats' joints. It's important to know that this is a common issue, much like in humans, and is often associated with aging, impacting 70% to 90% of cats over 12 years old. This understanding can help you feel less alone in your concerns about your cat's health.

This condition develops gradually over the years, with significant changes occurring in the joints. The cushioning cartilage in the joint breaks down, leading to bones rubbing against each other incorrectly. This friction can cause the development of sharp bone spurs, leading to swelling, inflammation, and pain in the joint.

The spine, hips, knees, and elbows are commonly affected areas, though any joint can develop arthritis. As the disease progresses, it increases pain and decreases mobility, causing cats to become less active and potentially lame.

It's important to note that arthritis in cats is typically seen as an age-related disease, with no specific breed or gender being more susceptible. This reassurance can help alleviate any anxiety you may have about your cat's specific circumstances.

Symptoms And Signs Of Arthritis In Cats

Usually, your cat's bones move smoothly past each other, protected by healthy cartilage and joint fluid. However, with arthritis, this smooth surface deteriorates, causing the bones to grind together like sandpaper.

Symptoms of arthritis in cats include:

  • Reluctance or hesitation to jump up or down
  • Difficulty navigating stairs
  • Limping
  • Stiffness in the legs, especially after resting or sleeping
  • Trouble using the litter box
  • Increased irritability
  • Decreased activity levels
  • Spending less time grooming
  • Reduced height when jumping
  • More frequent hiding or excessive sleeping

How Vet Diagnosis Arthritis In Cats?

If a veterinarian suspects arthritis, they will perform a physical examination and review your cat's medical history. They will look for:

  • Visible joint deformity
  • Joint pain
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Grating noises when the cat moves its joints
  • Fluid accumulation in the joints
  • Joint instability

The vet will take X-rays to examine the cat's bones and joints in detail to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment Of Arthritis In Cats

There are several treatment options for cats with arthritis:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): NSAIDs, frequently prescribed by veterinarians, are the primary treatment for cat arthritis. Your vet will decide the suitable type and length of treatment based on your cat's specific needs.
  • Pain management medication: In cases where NSAIDs are unsuitable or insufficient, pain relief drugs may be prescribed.
  • Injectable joint protectants: This treatment involves veterinarians administering glycosaminoglycan injections approximately every four weeks to alleviate arthritic pain.
  • Acupuncture: While studies on acupuncture for cat arthritis are limited, some cats may experience relief from this traditional Chinese medicine practice. This technique involves inserting needles at specific points on the body to alleviate pain.
  • Cold laser therapy or photobiomodulation (PBMT): This noninvasive and painless treatment uses a device that emits therapeutic light waves. These light waves can reduce inflammation and pain when moved across the cat's body.

If you think your cat may have arthritis, consult a licensed veterinarian to identify the best treatment options.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, if you observe arthritis symptoms in your cat, you must seek advice from a licensed veterinarian. They can diagnose the condition and suggest the most effective treatments to alleviate your cat's pain and enhance their quality of life.

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