Arthritis and degenerative joint disease in cats
Just like us humans who age, so do our companion animals, with old age can come joint pains caused by osteoarthritis. Cats can also become arthritic which can be diagnosed and treated.
Being aware that cats can sometimes hide their pain and suffering we have a responsibility to keep a close eye on our companions for signs of arthritis and join disease.
Arthritis in cats
Older cats can develop degenerative joint disease, and most commonly affected joints are the shoulders, hips and knees.
Osteoarthritis is where the cartilage that protects the joint degenerates and is worn away, which as a result causes discomfort and inflammation.
The similarity between human and animal arthritis is not yet clear. Here are a few things which may increase cats developing arthritis:
- Some breeds of cats (for example Persian, Siamese) have an increased risk due to underlying joint problems
- Injury or trauma and joint injuries can cause abnormal osteoarthritis
- Cats who become/are obese can worsen any existing condition
- An unusual condition of older cats is acromegaly, this is where a tumor in the pituitary gland secretes too much growth hormone. This can also lead to diabetes in cats
- Reduced mobility, look out for hesitance or reluctance to jump up or down, problems in climbing and declining stairs
- Reduced activity, more time spent sleeping, less time exploring, going to sleep in easy to access places
- Grooming, overgrown claws, matting of their coat where they have spent less time cleaning themselves
- Behavior, grumpy when handled or stroked, spending more time by themselves, avoiding people and animals
It is very important to have your cat checked by your vet if you see any changes in your cat. Arthritis is an uncomfortable and painful condition and a vet will be able to examine your cat and may be able to detect discomfort, pain or swelling to joints.
A cat’s environment will need to be improved to help maintain quality of life for an arthritic cat.
Helpful ways to help your cat
- Easy access to a litter tray
- Create a quiet, comfortable and soft bed area which has easy access to, ensuring your cat feels warm and secure
- Make sure your cat has easy access to areas where they visit
- Help with grooming your cat is very important because an arthritic cat spends less time grooming themselves as it can become more difficult for them
- Lack of scratching can cause claws to become sharp and overgrown ask your vet for advice and guidance.