As high as 90% of cats over 12 years of age have some form of arthritis.
Arthritis is the development of chronic and irreversible inflammation of the joints of a cat.
Arthritis is the irreversible and progressive deterioration of joints that causes pain and a reduction in joint motion. It affects cats of all ages but predominantly pets >10 years of age.
Common signs of arthritis in a cat:
- Hesitation to jump from heights
- Poor landing from jumping
- Sleep more
- Rough fur from poor grooming
- Long nails from less movement
- Change in behavior e.g. irritable
Arthritis management is based on:
- Joint stabilization
- A controlled exercise that decreases joint strain and builds muscles to support joints such as walking on flat surfaces
- Weight control
- Diet control such as foods rich in Omega fatty acids such as veterinary prescription diets
- Veterinary medicines such as pain control, nutraceuticals and joint protective drugs such as injectable polysulfated glycosaminoglycans (PSGAG)
Tips to help manage pets with arthritis:
- A warm environment as colder weather can worsen symptoms
- Placement of their bed away from cold draughts
- Soft but firm bedding
- Ramps onto the couch or bed so that the pet does not have to jump
- Avoid stairs
- Avoid slippery surfaces such as tiles
- Regular grooming
- Maintain parasite control
- Cut their nails regularly
- Weight loss to take excessive pressure off the joints - this should be gradual and managed by your veterinarian to avoid sudden weight loss
- Avoid rough play
- Litter tray with a lowered wall for easy access
If the pet appears in pain and does not eat or drink, seek veterinary attention. Your vet will be able to assign an arthritis management program to help improve the pet's quality of life.