Can Cats Get Arthritis?
It's widely known that humans are prone to developing osteoarthritis as they age and it's also commonly known that senior aged dogs go through similar experiences. However, many pet owners aren't aware of the prevalence of arthritis in cats. Recent studies have suggested up to 90% of cats 12 and older have evidence of arthritis!
While many of our feline friends age quite gracefully remaining agile and vibrant, there are times when diseases and arthritis can get them down. As with humans, arthritis in pets is a debilitating, degenerative disease affecting the joints. It causes inflammation and pain typically in the hips, knees and elbows - chronically and negatively affecting their quality of life, preventing them from enjoying the simple things such as playing, jumping and running like they used to.
Despite the prevalence of arthritis in the cat community, it often goes unnoticed or misdiagnosed. We know you don't want your cat to suffer, so keeping this information in mind and bringing your cat in for regular wellness checks (especially as they become seniors) is vital for their happiness.
What are the signs of arthritis in cats?
Cats are renowned for their ability to hide that they're in pain or discomfort due to the natural inclination to keep from appearing weak in the wild. The signs might not be as obvious as you'd expect (they generally don't limp the way dogs do!), but there are some subtle signs to watch out for. These signs mostly involve the cat changing their own behaviour in order to minimise the use of the affected joints.
- Reduced movement: reluctancy to climb stairs, jumping from heights and difficulty jumped onto surfaces where they once wouldn't have had any issues.
- Personality changes: aggression, increased meowing
- Reduced levels of activity: showing loss of interest in playtime, increased time spent sleeping, decrease interaction with you and/or other household members
- Changes in their grooming behaviour: struggling with the litter tray and decreased levels of self-grooming
How can I help manage my cat's arthritis?Talk to us to discuss treatment options with you, however, some simple adjustments in your home can help make your cat feel as comfortable as possible.
- Keep their beds easily accessible and extra soft.
- Providing steps or ramps to allow them easier access to higher places they enjoy, such as the couch or window sills.
- Ensure their litter trays have low sides and are easy for them to access.
- Discuss with us a suitable diet for your senior cat if necessary.
- Easily accessible water and food trays.
- Following advice and medication treatments provided by the clinic.
- Watch their weight - while excess weight hasn't been proven to cause arthritis, it certainly makes managing the condition harder and more painful for the cat.
- Keep them warm in the winter as the cold aggravates arthritis.
There are certain factors that can increase the risk of your cat developing arthritis in their lifetime. Genetics are considered the most common cause as breeds are predisposed to certain conditions such as hip dysplasia and patella luxation.
- Genetics: certain breeds of cats are more prone to developing the disease than others due to underlying joint problems such as hip dysplasia, often seeing in Maine Coons, Persians, Siamese.
- Previous injury: cats with previous injuries to their joints, such as those sustained in a road accident or dislocation (patella luxation), are more likely to develop arthritis later in life in the damaged joints.
- General use: your cats general use of their joints alone, like humans, can lead to developing arthritis later in their life.
- Obesity: obesity is considered a risk factor due to the increased stress and wear of excess weight on the joints.
Are there treatments for arthritis in cats?There is no cure for arthritis in cats or dogs, however, alongside the aforementioned tips on managing arthritis, there are some treatments available. Cats with managed arthritis can and do live a long, enjoyable life with a normal life expectancy. We may also suggest some of the following as treatments depending on different factors such as age, co-existing health problems, severity and disease progression:
- Joint supplements
- Additional therapies
Can you prevent arthritis in cats?
Your best efforts may not be enough to prevent your cat from developing arthritis, especially when they're older. However, regular exercise and play, good nutrition and overall keeping your cats body lean is the most optimal way of attempting to prevent arthritis. It's also helpful to bring your cat into the clinic for a wellness check, especially if they're approaching their senior years.
- Arthritis is very common in cats - it's thought up to 90% of cats over 12 have arthritis.
- Signs might not be obvious, but generally involve the cat changing their behaviour to reduce joint use.
- Simple changes in the home can really increase your cat's comfort levels.
- Certain breeds and other factors are more at risk for developing arthritis.
- Regular wellness checks are the best way to stay on top of your cat's health.
- Our team will discuss a treatment plan appropriate for your cat.
If you suspect your cat is suffering from arthritis or is a senior needing a wellness check, book an appointment or call us on (03) 9596 4804 - we're here to keep your pet as happy and healthy as possible.