Osteoarthritis (or Arthritis; OA) is a painful condition that can affect cats. Cats suffering from arthritis can often exhibit painful joint movements and be more difficult to manage. This condition is common and causes cats to suffer impairment such as difficulty moving, pain, or decreased appetite.
While there is no cure for arthritis in cats, you can take steps to make them feel better by ensuring they have a clean and comfortable living environment, giving them plenty of attention and affection, and, if your vet recommends it, adding more muscle building food. If you notice that your cat is slumping, limping, or otherwise looking unsteady, the first step in preventing further injury is to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. That way, we can find out what’s wrong with them and treat them appropriately.
This article tackles arthritis in cats, the signs and symptoms, and the best treatment you can try.
Let’s get started!
Symptoms of Cat Arthritis
The bones of your cat move efficiently through each other, which protects them from swelling and helps them glide through their joints. In addition, cartilage and fluid act as a cushion for the body, making sure that the bones don’t come into contact with each other too often. Cats can develop arthritis, but it is often treated using physical therapy where the cat is encouraged to walk and move around in ways they’re otherwise unable to. The smooth surface of their paws wears off over time, with the arthritic bones grinding against each other. Sometimes treatment entails a device or surgery.
Signs of arthritis in your cat may include symptoms such as:
- Having difficulty climbing stairs or going down them, reduced jumping height, jumping with a hesitating motion
- Legs that feel stiff after resting or sleeping
- Having trouble using their litter box
- Excessive irritability
- Reduction in activity level and spending less time grooming
- Oversleeping or hiding more than usual
Common Causes of Cat Arthritis
It is essential to analyze the risk factors in a cat’s life to prevent them from developing arthritis. The following are the most common causes of cat arthritis:
- Weakening. As the cat ages, its joints may weaken.
- Injuries. Cats may develop arthritis after suffering a joint fracture or injury.
- Various abnormalities. In some cases, abnormal hip development can lead to cartilage breakdown around joints.
- Obesity. Despite the lack of scientific evidence that obesity causes arthritis, scientists have suggested that the condition can be exacerbated by obesity.
- Genetics. There are some breeds of cats that are at a higher risk of developing arthritis than others. Their cartilage or hips are not developing properly due to the abnormal development of their cartilage or hips. Generally, this is the most common type of disorder found in Maine Coons, Persians, Scottish Folds, and Siamese cats.
Contacting Your Veterinarian
Please consult your veterinarian if you notice any of the symptoms listed above. Keeping track of your aging cat’s progress is a significant part of caring for him. You can detect early warning signs of serious illnesses by scheduling regular check-ups so that you can take action before they become more severe. The best thing that you can do if you suspect your pet might have a disease is to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. Depending on their symptoms, they might not be able to tell you without testing.
Treating Cats with Arthritis
Your veterinarian can help you to decide what the best course of treatment will be for your pet. They may recommend some options, including:
There are a variety of different ways that non-steroidal anti-inflammatories can reduce inflammation and relieve pain. If you have not discussed your cat’s medication with your veterinarian, you should never give it human medication.
Pain Relief Medication
It may be necessary to prescribe an anti-inflammatory pain reliever as well as other pain relief medications if your cat does not seem to be in a relaxed state. You can ask your veterinarian if you would like them to suggest medications that are suitable for your cat in case you need them.
Supplements That Strengthen the Joints
In combination with other medicines, joint supplements such as omega 3, glucosamine, and others may help slow down arthritis progression. A cat may not respond to a joint supplement, and the latter may not act as a replacement for medications. On the market, you can find a wide range of joint supplements varying in quality. It is best to consult your veterinarian for advice on the best product to use.
- Joint supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin are popular. Increasing cartilage repair and maintenance in the joints is one of their positive effects on cartilage health.
- It is also beneficial to consume essential fatty acids (DHA and EPA). Inflammatory effects are attributed to omega-3 fatty acids.
- The availability of therapeutic diets that contain omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin has increased for cats with arthritis. A good example is the Royal Canin diet, which contains the extract of green-lipped mussel as well as other nutrients.
Weight Control and Exercise
To slow the progression of your cat’s disease, you must reach and maintain a healthy weight. It is recommended that you consult your veterinarian to come up with a plan that includes a target weight, what type of food to provide, and the amount and when to provide it. Note that some prescription cat diets can provide weight management and joint support.
Additionally, exercise is one of the essential factors in maintaining a healthy joint. You must consult with your veterinarian for helpful tips on how to keep your cat moving safely when it is not motivated to do so.
There is a good chance that your cat will not tolerate acupuncture due to stress. In some cases, however, it helps treat symptoms of arthritis as well. You must ask your veterinarian if acupuncture is appropriate for your cat since they can often recommend an acupuncturist who is qualified or make arrangements for the cat to be referred. If you are having trouble reducing your cat’s stress, you may want to consider finding a therapist who will come to your home to help.
In addition, it is unlikely that most cats will be able to benefit from hydrotherapy. The most stress that can be caused by forcing your cat into a swimming pool will far outweigh any benefits they might receive from participating in this treatment.
Depending on how severe your cat’s arthritis pain is and how intractable its pain is, surgery might be a good solution. For example, a surgical fusion of the joint means that it is no longer a source of pain. These surgeries are usually only available at specialist veterinary hospitals.
Consider Laser Therapy for Cats
Your furry friend can benefit from laser therapy by improving mobility and reducing pain. There are no side effects to laser treatments, so cats enjoy them a lot. When treating patients with laser therapy, doctors can prescribe less pain medication. In addition to treating arthritis and bone pain, they are also found to help with bone building and bone density.
More Things to Do to Make Your Cats More Comfortable
Any cat owner with a cat with osteoarthritis (OA) can provide a few simple things that can help provide comfort and mobility to that cat with OA. The following are a few of them:
- The bedding should be soft, padded, and comfortable
- Food and water dishes should be raised to elbow height
- Floors with non-skid surfaces are a must
- It may be necessary to use a ramp, a stool, or a step to get on higher surfaces.
- Maintaining compliance with the recommendations for feeding and medications prescribed by your doctor.
That’s it! Cats with arthritis can suffer from pain, lameness, and stiffness, so it is vital to take them for treatment by a veterinarian when their condition warrants it. They may need long-term treatment that can alleviate the discomfort but most importantly, seeking treatment as soon as possible helps to ensure their continued health.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long will a cat with arthritis live?
You should start treating your cat’s arthritis now before the damage becomes too severe because the condition will worsen over time. It’s not possible to cure arthritis, but there are still options to keep your cat comfortable and healthy. Following your vet’s advice on diet and lifestyle changes can help you control symptoms of the disease and prevent further pain.
The quality of life of most cats is improved when their health is managed long-term. Well-controlled arthritis has been proven to increase the lifespan of some older cats.
How can feline osteoarthritis be prevented?
The most important way to prevent OA in cats is to allow them to grow slowly as kittens, with a lean body condition being maintained throughout their growth and into adulthood. There is no way to predict what will happen to a cat’s growth or to prevent injuries, so even the best efforts we make may not be enough to prevent the development of OA in an older cat. The good news is that if you keep a healthy diet, make sure you maintain an excellent physical condition and exercise regularly. You can significantly reduce your chances of developing OA. You will be working closely with your veterinarian to come up with a plan that works for your cat.
What can I give my cat for arthritis pain?
As the first line of defense against OA pain, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are generally prescribed. Depending on whether your cat is a good candidate for taking this type of medication will be determined by your veterinarian. In some cases, corticosteroid anti-inflammatory drugs will be prescribed instead of NSAIDs as a means of managing pain.
Can a cat live with arthritis?
The condition is not curable, but there are many treatment options available that can help ease the pain and slow the progression of the disease. As cats are living longer lives, they are often affected by chronic diseases such as feline osteoarthritis, which occurs as they age, just as it does with humans.
Is it possible to reverse arthritis in cats?
There is no way to reverse arthritis, but it can be managed and, in some cases, even prevented with the proper treatment.