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. 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:
- 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 nails
- Increased irritability or crying when picked up
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 drugs
- Injectable polysulfated glycosaminoglycans like Zydax
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.