Feline Arthritis – Hard to Detect but Common in Older Cats
3 February, 2015
Feline Arthritis is very common in cats, particularly as they get older. Sometimes the signs of feline arthritis are often subtle and difficult to spot, even for the most dedicated of cat owners. Therefore, it is our duty as cat owners to keep an eye out for the signs and to make sure our kitties stay comfortable. Feline arthritis is not fatal or dangerous, just uncomfortable for your aging cat.
The cause of Feline 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. Once the cartilage within the joint is destroyed, the two bones will rub together because there is no longer a cushion between them. When this occurs, the bones will become damaged resulting in 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.
Take your cat to the vet if you see any of the above symptoms of arthritis
When you take your cat to the vet, he or she will conduct a physical exam, take radiographs and perform other diagnostic tests to help determine the cause of the pain and inflammation in your cat’s joints. These are simple tests that won’t hurt your cat.
Once 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. Some general treatment options include: Prescription veterinary pain medications; possible use of nutritional supplements to help replenish cartilage and/or weight loss if necessary, which has been shown to benefit overweight cats with arthritis.
Minimal exercise is encouraged in arthritic cats
If you want to do a little exercise with your cats, try to talk to your vet first to make sure they are OK with it. 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.
Comforting your arthritic cat
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.
Feline Arthritis is usually found in older cats
There are a number of factors that make arthritis more likely for your cat. Feline arthritis is more common in middle-aged and older cats. Cats that are obese are more likely to be affected by the signs of arthritis than a cat that is lean. Joints that have been injured in the past are also more prone to becoming arthritic later in life.
Congenital abnormalities that result in abnormalities within a particular joint can make your cat more likely to suffer the effects of arthritis. Hip dysplasia is an example of a congenital abnormality that can lead to arthritis.
As our cats age, as in humans, their bones become frail. Therefore, if you keep an eye on your kitty and see any signs of arthritis, make sure to consult with your vet for a diagnosis and to help manage the pain. Feline Atrhtirs is manageable and you can make your kitty more comfortable.