Some Signs That Your Cat May Be Suffering From Arthritis Are:
- Difficulty climbing stairs or jumping
- Increased stiffness or limping
- Difficulty lying down or getting up
- Inappropriate litter box usage
- Inability to groom or be groomed, resulting in poor coat condition or matting, especially back half of the body
- Heat-seeking behavior, such as lying by heat vents, coffee pots, sunny locations
Signs That Your Cat May Have Pain Due To Arthritis And Is Not Just Getting Old
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition of the joints and is a common cause of pain in cats. Recent studies have shown that 40 92% of all cats, irregardless of age, have osteoarthritis. It can occur in the spine, especially the lumbosacral area, and the legs, especially the elbows, hips, knees and hocks.
Cats are masters at hiding pain. This survival instinct protects them from being seen as weak to would-be predators. Arthritis pain can be intermittent so cats can have a bad day followed by days when he is just fine. The gradual onset of arthritis makes it harder to notice the changes.
If your cat exhibits any of the following signs, its a good idea to discuss it with your veterinarian.
Changes in Behaviour
Hiding, not wanting to be petted, irritability or crankiness can be changes caused by pain. There may be decreased interaction with people or with other pets. They may be withdrawn or quieter than usual or they may be more clingy that they usually are. Any behavior change can be a sign of pain in cats and should be discussed with your veterinarian.
Change in Movement
Cats typically move around less when they have pain from arthritis. They may be reluctant to climb or jump on and off things. You may notice stiffness and slower movements. Cats with arthritis may play less and stop hunting.
Changes in Grooming
Changes in Vocalization
How Do I Know If My Cat Has Arthritis
Even if your cat is not obviously symptomatic, they may be arthritic. The conditions that trigger arthritis flare-ups in humans also cause them in cats.
Senior cats can be given an arthritis supplement. You may notice a stiff gait and difficulty getting around their own home, or a pet that cannot jump like they used to. You may also notice inappropriate urination if the struggle to get in to their litter box. Some cats show no symptoms, but since arthritis is present in many cats over ten years of age, it is important to slow down the degeneration of joints. If in doubt, start supplements.
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How Is Arthritis Diagnosed In Cats
Examining a cat for arthritis also gives very unreliable results. As we all know, cats can be very bloody-minded, and cats with perfectly normal joints may scream and resent having them manipulated, and others with badly affected ones may not show the signs of swelling and restricted movement that we would expect.
The only way to reliably diagnose arthritis in cats is to radiograph the joints . This does require an anaesthetic, or at least deep sedation, in order to position the cat correctly to get diagnostic radiographs.
What To Do To Make Your Cat More Comfortable
- Regardless of whether your cat suffers from arthritis, you can make your cat more comfortable with a few simple measures
- Keeping active. Provide places for your cat to climb and hide. For example, you can prepare two cardboard boxes with a door cut out and put a comfortable bed and dry food in them. You should observe in which places the cat stays most willingly unused boxes can be removed.
- PGentle play with your cat can also help keep him alert and active.
- Providing easy access to food. Food should be placed in an area that the cat can easily access without jumping around too much. The food bowl should stand in a place where the cat feels safe, away from the cat door or litter box
- Relocating the water bowl. Cats often prefer their drinking water to be away from their food, so you can place a second water bowl in another room.
- Moving the litter box. The litter box should stand in a place where the cat feels safe . Litter boxes with lower sides may be more appropriate for cats who have stiff or teat joints
- Weight control. Being overweight can put additional stress on your cats joints, so keeping his body weight down is beneficial. If your cat is overweight, you should consult your doctor about choosing an appropriate diet
- Helping your cat groom its coat. Observe what type of grooming your cat likes best. It is best to avoid painful areas. Gentle grooming can keep your cat interested in life
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Environmental Support For Cat Arthritis
To further support your cat, you will need to make some adjustments to your living space. These changes may not improve your cats health but make a big difference in her quality of life. Some of the changes you will have to make include:
- Cat Ramps. Installing cat ramps over stairs and high furniture is a good way of relieving your cats joints. Jumping, climbing, and excessive activity can aggravate joint degeneration.
- Orthopedic Cat Beds. Orthopedic beds are excellent on several levels they provide support for the joints, help relieve pressure, and keep the achy joints warm.
- Special Litter Boxes. Litter boxes with high walls can be difficult to use. To make your cats life easier, get a litter box with lowered entrance point.
- Elevated Bowls. You should invest in elevated food and water bowls. Standing over bowls can be painful. Some arthritic cats may refuse to eat or drink if the position makes them sore.
What Is Feline Arthritis
In a young, healthy cat they can move easily, the bones are protected by cartilage and joint fluid that makes it easy for your cat to walk. A cat dealing with arthritis has experienced a breakdown of that cushioning between their bones. This causes the bones to grind against each other as they move, slowly wearing away at the joint and making it harder to walk naturally.
Cats are extremely skilled at masking signs of pain and due to their natural agility arthritis often goes undiagnosed in felines. A cat can experience arthritis in any joint in their body. The most common joints for feline arthritis include:
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Do You Know What To Look For
Do you think your cat might have arthritis?
Since cats are really good at hiding signs of pain, it can sometimes be hard to realize that yours is having issues.
Because of this, its good to know what to look out for so that if your cat is developing arthritis, youll be able to get her checked out by her vet as soon as possible.
Is Arthritis Pain Affecting Your Cats Quality Of Life
Does your cat seem slower, less playful or generally a little less happy? Its hard to see our companions in pain and cats can develop arthritis from a younger age than you might think, no matter their breed. In can be difficult to spot the signs of arthritis in cats as theyre naturally good at hiding pain. We can help you recognise the signs of arthritis pain and share those findings with your vet. If your cat has already been diagnosed with arthritis then your vet can also advise on the best treatments and provide tips on what you can do at home to better alleviate their pain. Give your cat the best quality of life and get them back up where they belong.
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How Veterinarians Diagnose Arthritis In Cats
Veterinarians may suspect arthritis in cats based on their physical exam, but it requires further testing for a definitive diagnosis. However, some cats are stoic and asymptomatic. These cats are most often diagnosed with arthritis incidentallyafter feeling abnormalities on an exam or during an x-ray.
During a physical exam, veterinarians may find the following in a cat with arthritis:
Calcified free-floating bony lesions
Veterinarians may suggest a trial of pain medications to determine the degree of pain.
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Diagnosing Arthritis In Cats
Your veterinarian will perform a full physical examination on your cat and probably order blood or urine tests as well. Occasionally, x-rays might be ordered to look for signs of wear-and-tear or other damage to your cat’s joints. But for the most part, a diagnosis of arthritis in a senior cat is made based on characteristic symptoms that can’t be attributed to another cause.
What Are The Signs Of Arthritis In Cats
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
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Causes Of Cat Arthritis
Some of the common factors that increase a catâs risk of arthritis are:
- Wear and tear. The joints may weaken as the cat gets older.
- Abnormalities. Abnormal hip development may affect cartilage around joints.
- Injury. When a cat experiences a joint fracture or joint injury, it may cause arthritis.
- Obesity. While there is no scientific evidence that obesity causes arthritis, it may make the condition worse.
- Genetics. Some cat breeds have an increased risk of arthritis. This is due to abnormal development of their cartilage or hips. This is most commonly seen in Maine Coon, Persian, Scottish Fold and, Siamese cats.
How Is Cat Arthritis Diagnosed
If a veterinarian suspects arthritis, theyâll 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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Treatment Strategies For Arthritis In Cats
Once you know that your cat has arthritis, youll want to do everything in your power to treat both the symptoms and the underlying causes of the disorder. Sadly, veterinary medicine has no definitive cure for feline arthritis. However, your veterinarian can prescribe a treatment program to manage the problem. Here are some common approaches for treating feline arthritis.
How Is Arthritis Diagnosed
Arthritis is mainly diagnosed on history and physical examination. In the history, were looking at age, signs and previous reports of injury/trauma.On physical examination, were looking for:
- visible joint deformity
- grating detected with joint movement
- increased fluid in the joint
- thickened joint capsule
- joint instability
We make suggest taking some X-rays. These help rule of other causes of joint pain and assess the degree of bony changes in the joint. It should be noted that the severity of changes on X-ray doesnt necessarily match the severity of clinical disease. We may see lots of degenerative change on X-ray but have a cat thats walking around pretty well.Blood and urine tests are not usually needed to diagnose or investigate arthritis. But we may recommend them if were concerned about other conditions or to check for contraindications before starting medications.
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Can Complementary Treatment Help Arthritis In Cats
As arthritis is a very long-term problem, many owners are keen to try complementary treatments for their pets. This is fine providing that a vet has given the all-clear to use them. Acupuncture may well be of value, and there are some vets around the country who specialise in offering that type of care to cats, although it does need to be one that is amenable to that sort of handling!
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.
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How To Tell If Your Cat Has Arthritis
Feline arthritis can be challenging to spot because cats are excellent at hiding pain and will modify their behaviour to hide illness. Instead of cats clearly demonstrating they have arthritis, they may simply stop doing things they used to do. You may notice them grooming less, sleeping more or sleeping in lower places because they are no longer able to access the higher spots. You may also notice that your older cat is more irritable, especially when picked up or handled. This may be a sign that they are in pain. Arthritic cats also hesitate when they are jumping up or down from higher places. Occasionally cats with arthritis will limp, but the vast majority of cats will not, so limping is a poor indicator of arthritis in cats.
If you have an older cat, it is really important to pay attention to any slight changes in behaviour that may indicate that your cat is arthritic. Many owners associate these signs as an indication that their cat is slowing down, when in fact their cat may have potentially painful yet treatable arthritis.
Your vet will be able to help you to diagnose arthritis by palpating the joints and their overlying muscles, coupled with your observations at home. X-rays can also be performed if needed. Another way to confirm arthritis is to simply treat the cat as if they have arthritis using pain medication. If the cat suddenly becomes more mobile and starts playing and grooming more, it is a fair assumption that the cat was in pain due to arthritis.
Can Metacam For Cats Help Treat Arthritis
That has changed with the introduction of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug called meloxicam in a formulation licensed to treat cats with arthritis or other causes of chronic pain. Marketed under the trade name of Metacam for Cats, it comes as a liquid that can easily be administered orally once a day, using a specially marked syringe. It is one of the products that was formerly available only in a canine formulation, but had been used quite widely off-licence in cats. The feline product is significantly less concentrated than the canine one, so can be dosed more accurately. This is important, as if it is over-dosed, there is a significantly greater chance of developing side effects, particularly vomiting or diarrhoea.
It is gratifying that we now have another effective feline product in our armoury to help control what we now know to be a very significant cause of chronic pain in cats.
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How To Help Cats With Arthritis
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