How Can You Tell if Your Cat Has Arthritis?
19 April, 2017
cat with arthritis

Arthritis is very common in cats, especially as they get older.  Sometimes the signs of feline arthritis are so subtle and difficult to spot that it sneaks up on us.  As cat owners, we need to watch out for the signs to make sure our kitties stay comfortable.  And, of course, so we don’t get a late start on treating the arthritis.

What is the cause of arthritis?

As in humans, arthritis occurs when the cartilage within the joint becomes damaged. In a normal cat, each joint contains cartilage that acts as a buffer between the bony surfaces. The cartilage creates a cushion between the bones that form the joint.  When the cartilage within a joint becomes damaged, it will usually lead to the destruction of the cartilage and then arthritis.

How can you tell if your cat has arthritis?

A cat that is arthritic may show many different symptoms.  Arthritis causes pain. The symptoms that result from arthritis are usually behavioral besides the obvious physical symptoms.

Any change in your cat’s behavior may be a result of pain. Each cat reacts to pain in a different manner. Your cat could become less active and may sleep more than normal.  Some cats become anxious and restless and have difficulty finding a comfortable place to rest or a comfortable position in which to sleep.  And some cats become irritable and begin to avoid contact with family members.

Other symptoms include: stiffness, limited movement, trouble getting up, lying down, walking, climbing stairs, or jumping.

Regular veterinary visits can catch the arthritis before it gets too severe

Regular veterinary is the best way to assess your cat’s joint health, get a diagnosis early during the course of disease, and start instituting changes to make your cat comfortable and improve his quality of life.    Once the symptoms of arthritis set in, there is no cure, but you can work with your veterinarian to minimize your cat’s pain while keeping her healthy.

These approaches are commonly recommended for the treatment of arthritis in cats:

  • Keeping your cat slim can help by decreasing the load on their joints.
  • Feeding cats the right amount of high-quality food should help with weight control.
  • Carefully monitored exercise on soft surfaces can help affected cats
  • Warm compresses can soothe affected joints.
  • Massage can increase a cat’s flexibility, circulation, and sense of well-being. Professional animal massage therapists are available.
  • Pain medication, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (commonly called NSAIDs), may help relieve signs. (Vet will advise)
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin nutritional supplements have been used to help manage arthritis in felines.
  • Surgery is the last choice but depends on the severity of the arthritis.

Minimal exercise is encouraged in arthritic cats

If you want to do a little exercise with your cats, short, gentle play can be helpful in some cases, but you’ll need to introduce these sessions slowly and gradually. Vigorous play involving leaping, jumping and turning is to be avoided.

Other ways to comfort your kitty at home

If your cat has arthritis, there are a few things you can do to make her feel better: give her a cozy blanket or cat bed and when your kitty is relaxed, give your kitty a gentle massage; help your kitty by grooming the areas of her body that may be hard for her to reach; and make sure your cat has easy, direct access to her litterbox and food and water bowls.

If your dog has arthritis, you might like this article:  Natural Ways to Treat Arthritis! 

3 thoughts on “How Can You Tell if Your Cat Has Arthritis?”

  1. Hi Marianne.. As always, the best person to consult is your veterinarian. Glucosmaine is always a good recommendation for arthritic cats and there are many supplements. Always start with your vet. Thank you.

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