Tuesday, June 25, 2024

How To Know If Cat Has Arthritis

Identifying Arthritis In Cats

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

Q: How do I know if my cat has arthritis? Shes getting old and slowing down, but she doesnt limp.

A: Osteoarthritis is exceedingly common, particularly in older cats, so you are right to be concerned. Unfortunately, though, the condition is hard to identify.

Cats with arthritis dont limp, because feline arthritis typically affects multiple joints on both sides of the body. Instead, their behavior changes.

Arthritic cats become less active and less playful, and they sleep more. They may be moody and less tolerant of other pets or human handling. They are reluctant to jump, and they jump shorter distances. Their posture may become more crouched.

The twisting and stretching required to groom themselves is painful, so some arthritic cats look unkempt, and their coats may mat. Conversely, they may over-groom painful joints. Claws sometimes grow long when cats dont scratch or move enough.

Litter box habits may change, particularly if the cat must use stairs to access the box or climb into a box with high sides.

If you see any of these behaviors in your cat, make an appointment with your veterinarian. I also offer these tips for helping your cat with arthritis.

Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in Pennsylvania. Contact her at .

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Trouble Climbing And Jumping

Climbing and jumping are my 2nd and 3rd signs of arthritis in your cat that you might notice. These activities put a lot more stress through the joints and so can be very painful in arthritis cats. You might notice your cat doesn’t come upstairs much anymore or spend time on the roof or up a tree when they used to spend a lot of time there when they were younger.

In the same way, jumping will be reduced. Your cat may still be able to get up on the table but rather than taking just a single spring to get there, they first jump onto a chair to make each jump smaller. When getting down you may also notice them hesitating. they know it is likely to hurt so have to psych themselves up first.

Alternative Treatments For Arthritis In Cats

Some cats with arthritis benefit from non-medical therapies including:

  • Acupuncture
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Laser therapy

These alternative methods carry minimal risk for your cat, though they can be costly. The combination of medication and non-medical therapies can provide more effective pain relief for an arthritic cat.

For older cats, a heated bed or blanket or even a hot water bottle may provide relief from the pain and stiffness of arthritis. It may take some coaxing, but once your cat is acclimated to the heated bed, it should be a source of comfort.

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Home Remedies For Cat Arthritis

One of the best ways to help a cat who has arthritis is to create a comfortable environment for them thats also safe. You can do this by:

  • Giving your cat a soft, warm bed that is easy for your cat to get into and out of
  • Providing a ramp up to places they like to rest such as your bed, a couch, or a window seat
  • Providing a litter box with one low side for easy access
  • Keeping everything your cat needs like the litter box, food, and water on one floor of your house
  • Using soft brushes for grooming
  • Helping them maintain a healthy weight to put less stress on their joints


Most cats dont display obvious signs that they have arthritis. They tend to hide their pain, even when theyre in distress. This can make it challenging to identify when there is a problem.

If you pay attention to subtle signs like difficulty jumping or sudden issues with the litter box you may be able to detect potential problems early on. The earlier you can start treating cat arthritis, the better.

If you suspect your cat may have arthritis or is in pain, schedule a visit with your veterinarian as soon as possible.

How To Prevent Arthritis In Pets

How Can You Tell If Your Cat Has Arthritis

The best way to prevent arthritis is to keep your pet at a healthy weight, as this reduces stress on the joints. If you notice your pet is getting a little chonkers, talk to your vet about the best way of putting your dog or cat on a diet. This will include identifying a healthy weight, the best food for a proper diet, as well as strategies for resisting their extra-pitiful eyes.

For large-breed dogs, who are especially prone to developing arthritis, its really important to feed them a proper diet during development, to make sure their bones and joints develop properly.

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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.

Arthritis In Back Legs

Arthritis can affect any part of a cats body, but its common in the legs. When cat arthritis occurs in the back legs it can greatly limit your cat’s mobility. In some cases, cat arthritis can cause lameness where the cat will begin limping or favoring one leg when they walk. Many times, this causes the cat to become much less active and spend more time resting.

A licensed veterinarian can help determine if your cat has arthritis in their back legs and help put together a treatment plan.


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Types Of Arthritis In Cats

Arthritis is a disturbingly common phenomenon in the feline population, afflicting one-third of all cats . The term arthritis is really just a blanket term for any condition that causes degenerative or inflammatory joint pain. While many conditions fall under this category, most cats develop of of two primary types of arthritis:

  • Primary feline arthritis Primary feline arthritis occurs due to an auto-immune dysfunction that causes the body to attack its own joints, resulting in swelling, pain, and joint deformation. This problem corresponds to rheumatoid arthritis in humans.
  • Secondary feline arthritis Secondary or acquired feline arthritis develops over time, usually in response to degeneration in the bones and cartilage that make up the joint . This condition is also called osteoarthritis.

Theyre Tender In Some Places

Top 10 Symptoms of Arthritis in Cats Signs of Pain

If your cat has some inflammation in its joints, you should be able to tell by their reaction to touch. Be careful as you examine them so as not to increase their pain. You can gently feel around their joints from the feet up to the shoulders, one leg at a time. When you reach a tender place, your cat will likely respond.

Additionally, if you feel both the front legs simultaneously, you may be able to physically identify a size difference in inflamed joints compared to a healthier joint. Looking for this missing symmetry can be a great sign to pick up on, but it isnt always dependable as both sides may well be abnormal.

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Can Cat Dementia Be Prevented

The brain is known for its neuroplasticity, which means it can continue to change throughout life and be easily shaped by experiences. This is why mental enrichment can form an important part of delaying onset and slowing progression of cat dementia.

Introduce enrichment activities that are mentally and physically stimulating, but suitable for your cats personality and take into account health problems such as osteoarthritis. Cat play can be an important part of this, especially if your cat lives mostly indoors and there are a range of cat toys available designed to cater for your pets natural chasing instincts. Other cats may prefer food-motivated games such as puzzle feeders, but make sure to replace food regularly.

For more advice on keeping your cat happy in their older years, check out our guide on caring for your senior cat. If youre not sure whether your cat is a senior yet, this guide helps you explore some of the less obvious signs of ageing.

Identify If Your Cat Is Living With Arthritis

Our feline friends are known to be quite active and agile but as they age it is inevitable that they will start to slow down. Many cats can remain very healthy and vibrant during their senior years, but there are times when chronic disease and arthritis can affect their quality of life.

Arthritis is a chronic, painful, degenerative condition that can develop gradually over time, affecting one or more joints . Its causes inflammation and pain of the joints. Arthritis can affect any pet at any age, negatively impacting a pets quality of life and preventing them from enjoying simple, daily activities such as walking, running or playing.

Most cats are classified as a senior feline once they are over seven years of age and this is when they can develop age-related conditions such as arthritis. Its not always easy to recognise if your cat is in pain or suffering from arthritis. Many cats hide their discomfort so it can be hard to tell when they are uncomfortable. Cats do experience real pain with arthritis, comparable to the pain experienced by humans with this disease. The good news is that there many things we can do to help. The first step is to recognise when something isnt quite right with your pet.

There are some changes in their behaviour that can help you identify if your cat is living with arthritis.

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What Is Feline Osteoarthritis

Feline osteoarthritis, also called degenerative joint disease, is caused by the wearing away of joint cartilage . Without this cushion, adjacent bones are able to rub against each other, resulting in debilitating pain.

The disease most commonly affects the hip, knee, ankle, and elbow joints in cats. And while the root cause of osteoarthritis in cats isnt always known, the American College of Veterinary Surgeons says that injuries, abnormally shaped joints, and normal, everyday wear-and-tear can be to blame. Sadly, the condition is incredibly common. In a 2011 study, 61% of cats ages six years and older had X-ray evidence of osteoarthritis in at least one joint, and 48% were affected in more than one joint. The study also found that disease prevalence increases with age. In other words, the older your cat gets, the more likely it is that she will have at least one arthritic joint. However, even young cats can be affected.

Recognise The Symptoms Of Arthritis

How To Tell If Your Cat Has Arthritis

You know your cat better than anyone and can recognise when things have changed. The signs of arthritis pain can be both physical and behavioural and our simple online assessment will help you determine whether your cat might benefit from a vet visit for diagnosis and treatment. All you need to do is answer a few questions and then well send you a checklist that can help you have an informed chat with your vet.

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Final Thoughts On Treating Arthritis In Cats

If your aging cat is starting to show changes in mobility, have a conversation with your veterinarian. I think arthritis in cats is under-diagnosed. We need to be more aware of our cats subtle movement changes, diagnose their pain and help them.

There are lots of options to ease their discomfort, so dont duck away but face things head on.

When To Contact Your Vet

If you notice any of the above symptoms, you should contact your vet. Regular check-ups as your cat gets older can also help to pick up signs early.

You know your cat best. If they dont have the symptoms listed above but you are still concerned its always best to contact your vet.

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How Long Can Cats Live With Arthritis

Every cat is different when it comes to their prognosis and quality of life with a diagnosis of osteoarthritis. Working closely with your veterinarian is important in managing your cats arthritis. While there is no cure for arthritis, if the symptoms are managed appropriately, a cat can enjoy many years and a good quality of life with arthritis.

The Importance Of Diet And Exercise In Feline Arthritis Treatment

How to spot arthritis in your cat

Being overweight will aggravate arthritis in cats. Keeping your cat fit and active may not guarantee to stop the condition developing but it can ease the effects. It can be difficult for cats with arthritis to exercise due to discomfort. This immobility can lead to weight gain which in turn leads to further discomfort and a vicious cycle begins. In order to combat this, your vet or vet nurse should be able to make a diet plan with you and monitor your cats progress. Special foods are available that can help to support good joint health, particularly the foods intended for older pets. The diets designed for mature pets cater for the differences in nutritional requirements between young and old animals. Its important to feed your pet a diet that will support their individual requirements. Again, your vet or vet nurse will be able to guide you to the most appropriate product.

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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.

Osteoarthritis In Older Cats

This is a chronic condition resulting in the degeneration of the joint which causes erosion of the cartilage. New bone forms around the edges of the joint the joint swells and becomes painful, the normal cartilage that cushions and protects the joints has degenerated.

Did you know?

A cats skeleton has about 10% more bones than a human body. The skeleton of a feline needs to be strong and flexible but also light.

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Prevalence Of Arthritis In Cats

Due to the challenges of diagnosing arthritis in cats, it can be difficult to tell how many cats are affected. However, recent studies looking at radiographs of older cats produced startling results. In one study published in 2002, 90% of cats over 12 years of age had evidence of degenerative joint disease. This included cats with so-called spondylosis of the spine . However, even when these cases were excluded, around of the cats still had radiographic signs of arthritis affecting the limb joints. More recent studies have shown radiographic evidence of arthritis in the limb joints affecting between 60% and more than 90% of cats. All these studies show that arthritis is actually very common in cats, that it is much more common in older cats, and that the shoulders, hips, elbows, knees and ankles are the most commonly affected joints.

What To Do If You Suspect Your Cat Is Suffering From Arthritis

How To Tell If Your Cat Has Arthritis

If you suspect your cat might be suffering from arthritis, it is important you seek appropriate treatment from your local vet. The vets here at Calder Vets are highly experienced and you can arrange a visit with the nurse by visiting www.caldervets.co.uk and selecting your nearest branch. Calder Vets also has a referral hospital in Dewsbury, Yorkshire, where our highly qualified veterinary surgeons can discuss surgery options with you in the most extreme cases. It is essential you speak to your local vet to get advice and treatment for your pet as soon as possible.

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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

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