What is arthritis?
Alike to humans, our furry counter parts can suffer from stiff joints or arthritis (osteoarthritis). Arthritis can occur in all cat age groups, but is most seen in our senior patients, generally due to ongoing wear and tear or joint instability.
Arthritis is a degenerative condition, occurring over time, causing breakdown of the normal cartilage cushion within joints. Cartilage can be found on the end of bones and acts as a natural shock absorber. When this cartilage is worn down the bones within the joint begin to rub together which in turn causes pain and reduced movement.
Cats are notoriously good at hiding signs of pain and discomfort, so may only show subtle changes in behaviour at home.
Signs of arthritis in cats can include:
Reduced movement – sleeping in lower spots, not eager to jump up and off beds, struggling to posture or looking uncomfortable when toileting. This can occasionally lead to toileting mishaps.
Changed demeanour – more irritable than normal, vocalising when being petted, picked up or groomed.
Altered grooming – under grooming due to discomfort may lead to matted coats or flakiness, over grooming may result in hair loss.
Lethargy – not as eager to explore, tends to stay in one spot.
Diagnosis of arthritis can typically be done by a thorough history (thanks to vigilant owners) as well a physical examination and imaging. While imaging such as radiographs (x-rays) allow us look at the extent of disease – they are by no means compulsory to do prior to starting arthritis management.
Luckily, there are many management and treatment options available for cats with arthritis! Including the following:
Weight management diets – reduce the pressure placed through joints.
Prescription diets – specifically formulated for animals with joint disease.
Joint supplements and medications – help improve overall joint health.
Anti-inflammatories and pain relief
If you have any concerns about your feline friend, please do not hesitate to give us a bell on (07) 4671 3688, where we can find a management protocol for you!