Sunday, March 3, 2024

How Can I Tell If My Cat Has Arthritis

Symptoms Of Arthritis In Cats

How Can You Tell If Your Cat Has Arthritis – Signs Of Arthritis In Cats : General Cat Health

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.

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

How To Spot Arthritis In Cats

Arthritis is one of the most common ailments seen in middle-aged to older pets. Even younger cats, under the right circumstances, can suffer from arthritic changes. Arthritis causes changes within the affected joints that are painful for the affected pet. This pain is responsible for many of the signs associated with arthritis in cats. Here are seven of those common signs.


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Arthritis In Cats: Signs Symptoms & Treatment Options

Cats display extraordinarily agility, from those sudden, unpredictable darts across the room to impressive leaps onto and off of high spaces. However, this agility depends on healthy, trouble-free joint function.

If your cat has one of the conditions classified as feline arthritis, that agility may gradually disappear, replaced by increasing pain, stiffness, and avoidance of favorite pastimes. Cats who cannot trust their own joints to support their weight comfortably may find themselves unable to get out of harms way or get the exercise they need.

As a cat owner, you have more power to help your struggling feline friend than you might realize. The right combination of treatments and assistive devices can optimize joint function, prevent further joint damage, and help your cat participate in life more fully.

Lets examine the complicated world of feline arthritis, how it affects feline mobility, and what you can do to give your cat a better quality of life.

Therapies New And Old

I Think My Cat Has Arthritis, What Now?

As vets take a more holistic approach to managing arthritis in cats, here are some options to consider:

  • Acupuncture: Scientific studies in people indicate acupuncture does produce positive results. Anecdotally, people report how their cats purr their way through acupuncture sessions and seem improved afterward.
  • Laser Therapy: Again, the application of targeted laser therapy seems to greatly improve the mobility of some cats and they seem to love the sessions.
  • Hydrotherapy: Yes, you can train a cat to walk on a water treadmill. This builds muscular strength, which in turn supports those sore joints.
  • Stem Cell Therapy: This is a hyper-modern approach that appears to be of benefit for dogs with arthritis. For many the jury is still out, and it can be frustrating to find a clinic that offers this treatment. For those wishing to pursue every option, this is one to research.

And now, heres a fun video of a cat getting the best massage of his life:

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Does My Cat Have Arthritis Warning Signs And Symptoms

Arthritis can have serious effects on a cats health and mobility. If your cat has arthritis, the first thing youll notice is that she finds movement difficult and is reluctant to walk, run and jump. Some signs of arthritis in cats are similar to those of other serious conditions. Make sure you consult your veterinarian if you notice any of these signs.

Signs of arthritis in cats

  • Eliminating outside the litter box
  • Walks stiffly and may even limp
  • Social reclusiveness

While most cat parents are tuned in to the little details and quirks of their cats personality like their ability to open a door or proclivity for attacking feet at night it can be difficult to determine when behaviors that seem unusual are signs of a deeper health concern. Heres a look at some of the ways cats hide their pain, common conditions they suffer from, and how to get your cat the care she needs.

Risk Factors Of Arthritis

  • Old age. Older cats are at a much higher risk of getting arthritis. However, younger cats can also acquire the disease.
  • Breed of the cat. Purebred kitties are more likely to suffer from arthritis than their mixed bred counterparts.
  • Overweight or obesity. Kitties whose body weight is higher than the recommended weight are very prone to joint disease. The extra weight put on the joints increases the wear and tear applied to them resulting in an increased risk of arthritis.
  • Overmedication. A lot of medications that are prescribed especially in chronic diseases can trigger inflammation in the body.
  • Previous joint injury. A tear in joint cartilage can cause faster degeneration at that particular joint.
  • Physical trauma. The cat being in an accident would be an example for physical trauma.
  • Genetics. Cats whose parents had arthritis are at a higher risk of developing the disease.
  • Poor diet. A bad diet tends to be high in pro-inflammatory substances which can cause chronic diseases like arthritis.

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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

Why Do Cats Develop Arthritis

How to spot arthritis in your cat

Arthritis can develop in cats for numerous reasons. Both primary and secondary arthritis may occur in response to a joint injury or infection. However, rheumatoid arthritis may develop for no clear reason.

Age also plays a role in arthritis development. While simply getting older doesnt directly cause arthritis, osteoarthritis may develop after years of normal wear and tear on the joints. Conditions such as hip dysplasia or unstable kneecaps can raise the risk for osteoarthritis.

Lifestyle factors such as obesity and lack of exercise may worsen arthritis. If your cat carries too much weight, that extra pressure will accelerate the breakdown of cartilage in weight-bearing joints. If your arthritic cat refuses to exercise, his joints may receive less and less lubrication, allowing the joints to stiffen ever more painfully.

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Change In Personality And Behavior

Tied in with this, and my number 9 sign of arthritis in cats, is them seeming to be grumpy when handled. They may just seem to grumble or go rigid. They might though hiss or even scratch or try and bit when you pick them up, quite out of character.

And so at number 10 we have a change of character with aggression and grumpiness being hallmarks of severe pain being present. You might just think your cat is getting old and cantankerous. In reality they are just in constant pain and it’s no surprise they become permanently grumpy. Take that pain away and you will give them a new lease of life!

So those are my 10 signs of arthritis in cats. If you notice any of them make sure you get your cat checked out by your vet. Your cat deserves to be pain free in their old age so let them have the quality of life they deserve.

What signs have you noticed in your cat that makes you think they have arthritis? I’d love to read them in the comments below.

Our Pets Health: because they’re family.

What Causes Cat Arthritis

Unfortunately, the cause of arthritis is nearly impossible to pinpoint in a cat. The disease takes such a long time to develop that you will find it very difficult to definitely determine the cause. In older cats, the joint disease can be attributed to aging.

However, the disease can also spontaneously occur in younger cats who are otherwise healthy. If arthritis is triggered by a one-time event like inflammatory medication, then the cause can be identified. Otherwise, you may never know what caused this disease in your cat.

Even though it is very difficult to get to the actual cause of arthritis in a cat, there are some factors that increase your cats chances of catching the disease.

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What Causes Arthritis In Cats

Like humans, cats have cartilage between the bones in their joints, which helps cushion the impact as they move around. This cartilage can deteriorate as cats get older, causing inflammation and pain.

In addition to aging, there are other influences on arthritis in cats:

  • Cats who have had an infection or injury, such as a fracture or dislocation, may be more likely to develop arthritis where the damage occurred.
  • Cats with congenital abnormalities, like hip dysplasia, may develop arthritis in the affected area.
  • Overweight and obese cats are prone to arthritis due to the added pressure those extra pounds can put on their joints.

Arthritis and joint pain arent the only issues linked to obesity, which is a growing problem for cats and dogs. It can also result in heart disease, kidney and liver issues, joint pain, and illnesses like diabetes. It is vital to help your cat maintain a healthy weight through appropriate diet and exercise.

Common Signs And Symptoms Of Arthritis In Cats

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Cats who suffer from arthritis will naturally avoid any activities that make their pain worse. You may notice that your cat no longer jumps up on the couch, goes exploring, climbs stairs, or plays with the same enthusiasm as before. A cat with painful joints may even avoid being touched, held, or petted, to the point of displaying aggression toward humans and other pets.

Has your cat demonstrated inappropriate elimination or incontinence lately? The underlying problem may have nothing to do with urinary or neurological issues, and everything to do with limited joint mobility. A cat who cannot get to the litter box easily will most likely have accidents.

Take a close look at your unhappy cats weight-bearing joints. You may actually see signs of swelling or deformation that indicate arthritis. Even if you dont, however, you need to have your cat evaluated by a veterinarian. X-rays and other diagnostic methods can confirm a case of feline arthritis.

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Arthritis In Cats: 8 Questions To Ask Yourself

Because you live with your cat, its often hard to spot those telltale changes that indicate sore joints. Most cases of arthritis in cats are picked up by the veterinarian during vaccine checks.

Sit down and think about these questions:

  • Is your aging cat less active lately?
  • Do they have difficulty jumping up onto a favorite perch or window ledge?
  • Are they grumpier than they used to be?
  • Is your cat having regular accidents outside the litter box?
  • Has their coat care gone downhill the coat is dull or matted?
  • Do they look stiff and sore when they wake?
  • Is the cat a Maine Coon or Burmese?
  • Does the cat crouch awkwardly, as if their joints are stiff?
  • If you answered yes to any of these 8 questions, then arthritis is a possibility. Please discuss this with your vet.

    Also, keep in mind that other conditions that can decrease your cats energy or affect their hydration status can certainly make arthritis worse, such as kidney disease, diabetes or a heart problem.

    If your cat had a broken bone or a dislocated hip earlier in life, that joint has a higher risk of becoming arthritic as the cat ages.

    Are The Signs Of Arthritis Different In Cats

    Because cats are generally better at masking pain or illness than dogs, for many years, it was assumed that cats werent affected by arthritis. But now we know that isnt true.

    Unlike dogs, cats are less likely to show an obvious limp. Instead, you might notice that your cat doesnt jump to the heights she used to. She may use other objects, such as a footstool, to help her reach the couch. And she may slowly ease herself off the table instead of leaping to the floor.

    You might notice that your cat grooms herself less, often resulting in mats of fur forming. Or she may be more irritable when petted in certain areas, such as the lower back. She may also have accidents outside the litterbox if the sides of the box are too high, or she needs to go up or down stairs to reach the box.

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    Reduced Grooming And Matted Fur

    Cats normally spend a lot of time grooming. When arthritic though, stretching and reaching all areas becomes too painful and even the most fastidious of groomers may struggle to maintain a sleek coat. This means that a common symptom of arthritis in cats is their hair coat becoming matted and unkempt. You might notice that there appears to be a lot of loose hair on your cat that would normally be groomed out and that you just never see them licking themselves anymore.

    How Is Cat Arthritis Diagnosed

    Top 10 Symptoms of Arthritis in Cats Signs of Pain

    If a veterinarian suspects arthritis, theyll review your cat’s medical history and complete a physical exam. The veterinarian will specifically look for:

    • Visible joint deformity
    • Grating when the cat moves its joints
    • Fluid in the joints
    • Joint instability

    To confirm an arthritis diagnosis, your veterinarian will complete an X-ray to take pictures of the inside of the cat’s body and especially their bones.

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    How Do You Know If Your Cat Has Arthritis

    The signs of arthritis in cats can be subtle, says Jennifer Coates, DVM, who serves on the advisory board for Pet News Daily. Pet parents might notice that their cats become less mobile and appear stiff, particularly after rest.

    Signs that your cat may have arthritis include:

    • Hesitance to jump onto or off of high surfaces
    • Difficulty climbing stairs
    • Stiffness especially after sleeping or resting
    • Problems using the litter box, including going outside the box
    • Trouble going through the cat door
    • Reduced activity or play level
    • Noticeable lack of grooming, such as scruffy coat
    • Over-grooming of painful joints
    • Resistance to being handled or pet

    Some cats may limp, but this is less common. Cats with arthritis may also experience a loss of appetite, weight loss, or depression. Osteoarthritis may occur in any joint, but is most common in the limbs and the spine, Dr. Fossum explains.

    If you arent sure, the International Society of Feline Medicine provides a mobility checklist to give you an idea of if your cat is showing signs of arthritis.

    Give Your Cat A Comfortable Bed

    • Place a selection of beds around your home for your cat to choose from. Remember to put them at several at different heights, your cat may not be able to jump as high up as they used to.
    • Orthopaedic memory foam beds can be really comfortable for cats with arthritis.
    • A heated bed can naturally help sooth your cats joints.

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