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Arthritis

90% of cats over 12 years of age have some form of arthritis.

Overview

Arthritis is the development of chronic and irreversible inflammation of the joints of a cat.

Signs

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. The most commonly affected joint in cats is the elbow joint. Many cats also develop arthritis in the lower back.

Common signs of arthritis in a cat:

  • Stiffness
  • Hesitation to jump from heights
  • 'Pouring' down from a height
  • Landing with a thump and a groan
  • Difficulty climbing into the litter box
  • Move around less and sleep more
  • Rough or matted fur from poor grooming of the hind quarters
  • Long and/or thick nailsĀ 
  • Increased irritability or crying when picked up

Management

Arthritis management is based on:

  • Weight loss if overweight
  • Diet control with foods rich in Omega fatty acids such as veterinary arthritis prescription diets
  • Antiinflammatory drugs
  • Pain relief drugsĀ 
  • Injectable polysulfated glycosaminoglycans like Zydax

Homecare

Tips to help manage pets with arthritis:

  • A warm home
  • Place the bed away from cold draughts and close to a heat source or the sun
  • Soft but firm bedding
  • Ramps or small steps onto the couch or bed so that the pet does not have to jump
  • Avoid stairs
  • Avoid slippery surfaces such as tiles
  • Regular grooming
  • Parasite control
  • Regular nail trim
  • Weight loss to take excessive pressure off the joints - this should be gradual and managed by your veterinarian as sudden weight loss can be dangerous
  • Avoid rough play
  • Provide a litter tray with a lowered wall for easy access

Your vet will help you design an arthritis management program to improve your cat's quality of life.