Cat (Feline) Arthritis Symptoms

Pay attention to the signs

As cats get older, joint cartilage naturally starts deteriorating and joints become less flexible. While arthritis symptoms may be very noticeable among dogs, cats are more adept at masking their symptoms.

Symptoms of Cat Arthritis

Older cats are likely to develop arthritis, but cats at any age who have suffered from infections and injuries are also prone. You may not notice the symptoms at first, or you may attribute your cats symptoms to just “slowing down” in their old age. Since your cat can’t tell you what hurts, here are some symptoms to look for in your cat:

  • Decreased activity
  • Limping
  • Disinclination to walk, climb, jump or play
  • Difficulty lifting oneself up
  • Soreness when being stroked or picked up
  • Worsening litter box habits (caused by pain from getting in and out of the box)
  • Increased aggression
  • Becoming withdrawn

Rule Out Other Diagnoses

Talk to your veterinarian before beginning treatment to rule out other serious diagnoses. Some other diagnoses may include: spondylosis, ligament tears, Lyme disease, and invertebral disc disease. Your veterinarian will probably do X-rays to ensure that the problem is arthritis.

Treatment Options

Early diagnosis of cat arthritis is essential to effective treatment. Depending on the severity of your arthritis, your veterinarian may recommend the following as treatment options.

  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Pain medications
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Glucosamine for cats
  • Weight loss management

Many veterinarians are quick to prescribe anti-inflammatory or pain medications to arthritic pets. These medications will not improve or slow down the progression of arthritis. They are simply used for pain management. Furthermore, there are side effects associated with long-term use of such medications, including cardiovascular and gastrointestinal issues. If your cat is near the end of its life, these medications may be the best option. In its younger years, a supplement such as glucosamine will be favorable.

Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements are widely used among pets and people for joint health. Unlike other anti-inflammatories and pain medications, glucosamine and chondroitin help to rebuild and prevent damaged cartilage. Studies show fewer side effects compared to alternative medications.

When your arthritic cat is overweight, we strongly advise weight management. Each ounce of extra weight places more pressure on your cat’s joints. Make sure your cat is eating the right amount of quality food each day. Food intake and exercise contributes to your cats overall health. There are also specialty cat foods available at your local pet store for weight management.

Tips to Make Your Cat Comfortable

In addition to the treatment options above, there are other ways to ensure that your cat leads a happy, healthy, pain-free life.

  • A soft blanket or bed placed on the floor may be more suitable for cats that have trouble jumping.
  • Daily, gentle massages will help relax your cat and ease arthritic pain.
  • Groom your cat weekly
  • If your cat has trouble getting up and down stairs, make sure that her necessities (food, water, litter box) are all on her most used floor of the house.
  • If you have other animals or children in the house, make sure your cat has a ‘safe area’ that she can go to when she’s not feeling up to the company.

Arthritic cats can lead happy, healthy lives if they receive treatment and care.

Other articles that you may find useful:

The Effectiveness of Glucosamine for Pets