Can Cats Get Arthritis?
Did you know recent studies suggest that up to 90% of cats 12 and older have evidence of arthritis?
While arthritis is a common occurrence in humans as they age, our feline friends are suffering through similar issues. However, many cat owners aren't aware of just how high the prevalence of the disease is, or that their cat might not even show any symptoms of suffering.
Cats tend to be quite graceful as they age, remaining agile and vibrant, but debilitating and degenerative diseases like arthritis can really get them down.
Similar to humans, cats are affected in the joints, with inflammation and pain occurring most often in the hips, knees and elbows. This affects their quality of life negatively, keeping them from enjoying their simple pleasures, such as playing, jumping and running.
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?
Hiding discomfort or pain is a natural phenomenon in cats - and they're pretty good at it. Due to this ability, the signs of arthritis might not be as easy to see as you'd expect.
While dogs suffering arthritis tend to limp around, it's unlikely you'll see a cat do the same, however, there are some other more subtle signs you can keep an eye out for. These generally involve the cat changing their behaviour in order to minimise how much they use the joints that are inflamed.
Reduced movement such as more reluctancy in climbing stairs or jumping from heights - also jumping onto surfaces they had no issues jumping on previously.
Changes in personality such as an increase in aggression and increased meowing.
Reduced levels of activity such as loss of interest in playing, more time spent sleeping and a decrease in interacting with you or other household members.
Changes in their grooming behaviour, such as a greater struggle to use the litter tray and decrease levels of self-grooming.
What are the risk factors of a cat developing arthritis?
Certain factors can increase the chances of your cat developing arthritis - the most common cause, however, is considered to be genetics.
Genetics: certain breeds are more inclined to develop the disease due to other underlying conditions relating to the joints. This includes hip dysplasia and patella luxation, most commonly seen in Maine Coons, Persians and Siamese breeds.
Past injuries: suffering an injury that affects the joints, such as those sustained in a road accident or a dislocation of the joint, can increase the likelihood of arthritis developing in the damaged joint.
Everyday use: like humans, the general use of joints can cause them to wear down and lead to the development of arthritis.
Weight problems: suffering from weight issues such as obesity increases the general wear and tear on the joints.
Is arthritis in cats curable?
There is no cure for arthritis in either cats or dogs, however, there are some treatments available that can help manage the disease. Your veterinarian will help decide the best options for your cat, depending on their age, co-existing health problems, severity and progression of the disease.
- Joint supplements
- Additional therapies
The good news is, cats with managed arthritis can and do live long, enjoyable lives with normal life expectancy!
How can I help my cat's arthritis?
While there is no cure for arthritis, there are some simple tips you can implement at home to help make your cat feel as comfortable as possible:
- Providing easy to access, extra soft bedding.
- Providing steps or ramps that help them have easier access to higher surfaces they frequent, such as couches or window sills.
- Litter trays with low sides for easier access and use.
- 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 your vet.
- 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.
How can I prevent my cat from developing arthritis?
There is no guarantee that you can prevent your cat from developing arthritis, especially as they become a senior cat. Regular exercise and play alongside good centurion and keeping your cats weight lean is the best way you can attempt to prevent arthritis. REgular wellness checks, especially as your cat approaches their senior stage of life are also recommended to ensure if they do begin developing arthritis, as well as any other disease before it progresses.
Fast facts about arthritis in cats:
- It's very common - it's thought that up to 90% of cats over 12 suffer from the disease.
- Signs and symptoms may not be obvious at all - cats are resilient when they're uncomfortable or in pain.
- Look for changes in behaviour in how they use their joints eg. not being able to jump on high surfaces they once easily could jump on.
- Certain breeds and other factors can increase the risk of arthritis developing.
- Regular wellness checks are the best way to keep on top of diseases.
- Your veterinarian will discuss an appropriate treatment plan for your cat.
If your cat is exhibiting changes in their behaviour, is a senior needing a wellness check or just hasn't had a routine check up in a while - give us a call on (07) 4630 8399 or click here to book an appointment.