Sunday, April 21, 2024

Does My Cat Have Arthritis

Transcript: How To Prevent And Treat Arthritis In Tripawd Dogs And Cats

How to spot arthritis in your cat

TRIPAWDS: Hi, Dr. Kirkby Shaw, thank you so much for being here.

DR. KIRKBY SHAW: Thank you so much for having me. Its great to be here.

TRIPAWDS: Oh, you bet. You bet. Well, we are excited to introduce you to the Tripawds Community and let everybody know what you are doing. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and a little bit about your organization CARE?

DR. KIRKBY SHAW: Sure. I am a small animal surgeon and rehabilitation specialist. And Ill first start out by thanking you for what you do with the Tripawds website. As a surgeon, I have directed many of my clients to your resource and so I find it invaluable and I know they do too. So thank you.

TRIPAWDS: Well, thank you so much for that, the nice compliment about Tripawds because we do strive to give people factual information from authorities like you. And now, we have somebody to turn to for arthritis management. I know for years all of us have just been like, Well, lets throw some glucosamine in our dogs dish and hope that helps. And it is a mystery to pet parents like me. Its just this thing, I know theres arthritis, theres osteoarthritis. If you ask me the difference, I probably couldnt tell you.

But thats why Im so glad youre out there so that you can educate us because a lot of Tripawds members come to us with arthritis or they obviously develop it later on as the Tripawd ages. So I love what you are doing, the information there is so easy for people like me to understand.

Treatment Of Arthritis In Cats

The goal of treatment is to manage your cats pain, improve activity, limit the progression of OA, and improve her quality of life. The following treatments are available for osteoarthritis in cats:

  • Weight loss is key to improving your senior cats discomfort with OA. If your cat is overweight, talk to your vet about specific diet and exercise plans to fit your senior cats needs.
  • Nutraceuticals, also called supplements, such as glucosamine and chondroitin, omega-3 fatty acids, and more. Always check with your vet before giving your cat any supplement. Some can be dangerous or potentially interact with other medications. Follow this link for more information about supplements!
  • Pharmaceuticals or prescription medications and injectable medications including anti-inflammatory drugs and pain management drugs. These medications must be given under the supervision of your vet as they are not risk-free and need close and continued monitoring.
  • Surgical intervention depends on the specific diagnosis of OA and should be discussed thoroughly with your vet, including what to expect during recovery and long-term goals.
  • Other options such as acupuncture and cold laser therapy are often used together with the above options. Again, its important to discuss these therapies in addition to more traditional therapies with your vet to meet your cats specific needs.
  • A multimodal approach involving a combination of the above treatments

The Importance Of Traction For Tripawds

TRIPAWDS: What about wood floors? What are your thoughts about that?

DR. KIRKBY SHAW: They are the worst. And so really that and that brings up a great point because there are some really basic things, just your environmental modifications of your home that can be helpful so wood floors are not good for any dog. They slip and slide all over the place.

When my Lab, he is almost 5 now, but even as a puppy and he goes sliding around on areas that werent covered by rugs, it would Id have to hold my breath. Dogs that are Tripawds and/or have arthritis, it becomes even harder for them to stand up. So area rug, carpet runner, yoga mat, anything that you can do to cover the hardwood floors or linoleum or tiles is going to be so beneficial.

Along the same line, making sure the dogs nails are trimmed. This becomes more important as dogs aged. Their nails just get longer and longer so making sure they stay nice and trimmed, that can help give them some traction to stand up.

And then even things like making sure the hair stays trimmed between toes, so Goldens, Aussies, those dogs with long feathers between their pads, making sure that those stay nice and trimmed to help give them support as they are trying to stand up on the ground.

DR. KIRKBY SHAW: Yeah. I think it depends on whether they are already up and they have some momentum and some control or they are actually trying to stand on the slipper floor. But in general, I try and keep the floors covered as much as possible.

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Save The Money On Supplements Reach For Evidence

But theres going to be pain relievers. I would recommend saving the money on the supplements because and putting it towards, on the oral supplement that is, putting that towards things like Adequan or a joint specific diet that has high levels of omega-3s in it.

But pet parents should expect that what happens is, and this is not necessarily going to be true just because I think we can do a lot to avoid this, but generally as arthritis gets worst, the dogs mobility declines and they are not getting up to greet them at the door, they are not able to jump into the car, they are not wanting to go as far on a walk. And those are things that people should look for to suggest that maybe theyve never been diagnosed with arthritis and now they are starting to show the symptoms or things are getting worst.

And then tracking their response to any therapy that they start by saying, All right, now they actually are more willing to get up and greet me when I come home. They are able to walk a little bit farther because weve started this treatment.

TRIPAWDS: Yeah, and you do have some checklist available on your website. I know Ive seen them and Ill make them available in the podcast links. But things to look for where we might suspect that our dog is experiencing some signs of arthritis. Do you have one for cats on there too or probably not, huh?

DR. KIRKBY SHAW: No, not yet. Ive been getting a lot of request for cats and I promise the cat stuff is coming soon.

Are There Other Signs Of Oa Besides Difficulty Jumping Up Into A Window

Arthritis In Cats

Cats can exhibit many different signs when they have OA, and they do not necessarily demonstrate all the same signs all of the time. The most common signs cat owners may notice include:

  • Difficulty getting up and down
  • Walking stiffly
  • Lameness in one or more legs
  • Reluctance to go up and/or down stairs
  • Reluctance to jump up or down
  • Stiff, swollen, or sore joints
  • Reluctance to be touched on some parts of the body
  • Unexpected aggression towards other cats or towards humans

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Arthritis In Cats: 8 Signs Your Cat Has Arthritis

An older dog will show signs of arthritis that are obvious. But arthritis in cats is tougher to spot. Heres how we diagnose and treat this condition.

Could your cat have arthritis and be suffering in silence?

George may still be curious, but if his aging joints are keeping him from poking around the house, he may be suffering from arthritis.

You may see your older dog start to show signs of arthritis that are painfully obvious. Your cat may be in the same amount of discomfort but because cats are cats, they may be in pain under your radar.

If Curious G isnt getting on the bed as much, or isnt jumping up to drink from the sink anymore, this could be significant.

Maybe he looks at the windowsill and acts as if hed just rather sleep on the floor. Cats prefer perches and higher ground. If your cat is hesitating to jump, or is looking at his favorite chair and then just walking away, maybe old George is in considerable arthritic pain.

Age, weight, health status and previous injuries play a big role in feline arthritis.

Most cats dont develop obvious signs of arthritis until they are at least 10 years old. An obese cat has a much harder time dealing with aging joints.

Was Your Pet Food Recalled

Drugs called NSAIDs should also be on your watchlist. Cats break down NSAIDs very differently from humans or dogs. This is why aspirin should never be given to cats without supervision.

However, an NSAID called meloxicam is now well-established as licensed pain relief in cats. And because its a liquid that you place on food, its easy to give.

Of course there are some risks attached, which well look at shortly. But for those uneasy about giving cats medication, weigh the benefits against a small risk when used correctly.


  • Meloxicam is currently the only licensed pain relief medication for long-term use in cats.
  • It comes in a specific cat formula that is easy to give.
  • It should always be given with or after food, just as you shouldnt take aspirin on an empty stomach because this risks gastric ulceration.
  • Never combine meloxicam with certain other meds, so check with your vet if youre unclear.
  • Stop medication if the cat has sickness or diarrhea.
  • Cats with kidney disease are at increased risk of side effects. So its wise to have periodic blood tests to check that the kidneys are healthy before continuing with long-term use.

These steps above are all sensible ones that will help keep your cat well. They arent meant to scare you, but in the same way the insert on human aspirin makes a scary read, you need to know what to avoid in order to dodge the problem.

Meloxicam Dosage and Side Effects

Side effects may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Kidney damage

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How To Help Your Senior Cat Cope With Arthritis

Chew on this: I may receive a small commission for affiliate links, but all products I dig up are ones I paw-thentically love!

Warm snuggles and a calm cat-itude are some of the best parts about being a pet parent to a senior cat. Kittens are so much fun, but if youre like me, senior cats hold a special place in your heart when it comes to quiet time spent together.

However, as your cat ages, you may notice subtle changes in her agility, activity level, and even litter box habits. And these are very important clues to your senior cats health, particularly when it comes to arthritis.

Now that Olivias about 13 years old, Im always watching her as she jumps to see if she slips, is in pain, or simply cant leap as before. So far, shes still quite agile but that doesnt mean she doesnt experience soreness.

Senior cats and arthritic cats are masters at hiding discomfort, so you need to look for tell-tail clues that may indicate arthritis in your senior cat.

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Does My Pet Have Arthritis

Top 10 Symptoms of Arthritis in Cats Signs of Pain

Arthritis tends to creep up over time and your pet won’t always show obvious signs until they are in considerable pain.

The disease is caused by the wearing down of the cartilage that covers the bones at the end of a joint. This cartilage usually acts as a cushion and helps joints move freely but as it wears down, the ends of the bones become exposed and can rub together.

You can imagine the pain this might cause your pet. It can also severely affect your pets quality of life.

Arthritis does seem to be worse in the colder months but it can certainly affect your pet all year round. It is very important to understand that your pet wont necessarily limp or yelp if they are in pain so we recommend you familiarise yourself with the symptoms of arthritis. Dont be tempted to put the changes down to ‘theyre just getting old’ as your pet may be in significant pain, they just can’t tell you.

Signs of arthritis in dogs to watch out for:

  • Hesitant to jump into the car, up onto furniture or use stairs
  • Lowers their body slowly when going to lie down then falls in a heap
  • Is a bit slow to get going after getting up and may slip on floorboards
  • Is slowing down on walks or is reluctant to walk as far as they used to
  • Exhibits behavioural changes such as being a bit grumpier than usual

How do I know if my cat has arthritis?

Look out for these subtle signs of arthritis in cats:

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Symptoms Of Arthritis In Cats

Signs of arthritis in cats can include:

  • Difficulty jumping or using the stairs
  • Limping
  • Stiffness
  • More prominent shoulder blades
  • Hiding away or sleeping more than usual
  • Over-grooming
  • Unkempt or matted fur especially along the back and around the bottom, because your cat will find it difficult or painful to twist to groom these areas
  • Swollen or hot joints
  • Being a bit more grumpy than usual, especially when you go to touch them.

Signs of arthritis can be hard to spot as they can be subtle and come on gradually. It can be helpful to think back to what your cat was like a few months or even years ago when trying to think if they are showing any of these signs.

Signs Of Arthritis In A Cat

A cat that is arthritic may show many different symptoms. Essentially, arthritis causes pain. The symptoms that result from arthritis are a result of that pain.

Any change in your cat’s behavior may be a result of pain. Each cat reacts to pain in a different manner. These are some examples:

  • Some cats become less active and may sleep more than normal.
  • Other cats may become anxious and restless.
  • Some cats have difficulty finding a comfortable place to rest or a comfortable position in which to sleep.
  • Some cats become irritable and begin to avoid contact with family members.
  • Other cats become more social, seeking out more interaction with family members.
  • Cats with arthritis may be painful when handled.
  • Arthritic cats may have difficulty accessing the litter box and may urinate or defecate outside of the litter box.
  • Some cats with arthritis will stop grooming themselves, resulting in an unkempt haircoat.
  • The pain resulting from arthritis may cause a decreased appetite for some cats. This, in turn, may result in weight loss.
  • Lameness may be present but is often difficult or even impossible to notice. Some cats become quite good at hiding the symptoms of their pain.

The symptoms of arthritis in cats can be gradual and insidious in onset. Knowing the behaviors that are normal for your cat and monitoring for changes in those behaviors will provide a good base for determining whether your cat is painful.

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How Can Traction Help Tripawds

Wood floors are not good for any dog, says Dr. Kirkby Shaw, especially for three-legged pets. They slip and slide all over the place. Modify your Tripawds home environment for safety. Add traction with no-slip rugs. Keep your pets pawdicures up-to-date. Give regular nail trims and paw fur clipping to give good traction.

What Are The Signs Of Arthritis In Cats

Cat arthritis: Why does my cat find it difficult to jump ...

Cats are masters of hiding discomfort and pain, so often do not demonstrate obvious signs that you might expect. They restrict their own activity to minimise the use of the sore joints and so tend not to show the same signs of arthritis as other animals. In particular, cats uncommonly show overt signs of limping or pain associated with arthritis.

Major signs of arthritis in cats associated with arthritis are:

  • Reduced mobility
  • Reluctance, hesitance or refusal to jump up or down
  • Jumping up to lower surfaces than previously
  • Jumping up or down less frequently
  • Difficulty going up or down stairs
  • Stiffness in the legs, especially after sleeping or resting for a while occasionally there may be obvious lameness
  • Difficulty using the litter tray
  • Difficulty going through the cat flap
  • Reduced activity
  • Increased time spent resting or sleeping
  • Not hunting or exploring the outdoor environment as frequently
  • Sleeping in different, easier to access sites
  • Reduced interaction and playing less with people or other animals
  • Altered grooming
  • Reduced frequency of time spent grooming
  • Matted and scruffy coat
  • Sometimes overgrooming of painful joints
  • Overgrown claws due to lack of activity and reduced sharpening of claws
  • Temperament changes
  • More irritable or grumpy when handled or stroked
  • More irritable or grumpy on contact with other animals
  • Spending more time alone
  • Avoiding interaction with people and/or animals
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    Treatment: The Importance Of Nutrition

    The food your cat eats plays an important role in her overall health and well-being. Balanced nutrition is an essential part of an active, healthy lifestyle. For accurate diagnosis and treatment options, always consult your veterinarian and ask them to recommend the best food for your cats arthritis and joint mobility health.

    Contributing Factors Of Arthritis In Cats

    Being overweight contributes to OA and often makes it worse. Preventing your cat from becoming overweight through a healthy, appropriate diet and exercise has been shown to prevent OA. The results are often a longer, healthier, and happy life.

    If your cat has been diagnosed with OA and is overweight, its important to slowly begin a controlled exercise program. Movement has been shown to benefit cats with OA and even reduce inflammation. Helping your cat become more active strengthens your bond as well, improving both the quality of life for your cat and for you! Check out this link for more information!

    Its important to talk to your vet before changing your cats diet and implementing an exercise program.

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