If you have a cat older than 12 years of age, chances are high they are sleeping more and slowing down. While becoming less playful is normal with age, your cat’s sedentary behavior could actually indicate they are experiencing pain. Recent studies show that feline arthritis is far more common than previously recognized and can diminish an aging cat’s quality of life. If your cat exhibits arthritis pain signs at home, consult with our Greenfield Veterinary Clinic team, so we can diagnose and treat this common problem. Learn the answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about feline arthritis.

Question: What causes arthritis in cats?

Answer: Arthritis is an inflammatory joint condition that causes cartilage to break down. As a result, affected joints’ bones rub together and create bone spurs, which can sometimes break off and float inside the joint. Inflammation and pain perpetuate further joint damage, causing continual declines in mobility, muscle tone, and strength. Arthritis most commonly affects a cat’s spine, elbow, hip, and ankle. This condition’s cause is unclear in most cases.

Q: Does arthritis affect many cats?

A: Recents studies show that 40% of all cats have arthritis signs. Incidence increases with age—90% of cats older than 12 show arthritic changes on X-rays. The disease may begin in young adulthood, as early as 2 years of age, but often takes several years to manifest clinically. These statistics indicate that arthritis may be more common in cats than in dogs, but the disease is far less frequently diagnosed in the feline population, with only an estimated 13% of arthritic cats being diagnosed and treated.

Q: What are some feline arthritis signs?

A: Arthritis causes pain, stiffness, reduced mobility, reduced range of motion, and muscle loss surrounding affected joints. Early disease signs may be subtle, including vague behavior changes such as increased hiding or irritability toward other pets or family members. Keep an eye out for these common feline arthritis signs:

  • Difficulty jumping up or down
  • Difficulty using stairs
  • Reduced grooming
  • Difficulty rising from a reclined or sitting position or walking
  • Overall reduced mobility
  • Overall reduced activity
  • Changes in litter box habits or accidents outside the box

Q: What should I do if my cat exhibits arthritis signs?

A: If your cat exhibits arthritis signs, they may be experiencing pain. Schedule an appointment with our Greenfield Veterinary Clinic team to examine your furry pal and determine whether your cat has arthritis or another condition. We will consider your cat’s health history and perform a physical examination. If we suspect your cat has arthritis, we will take  X-rays to confirm whether they have this condition. Keep in mind that we may recommend sedating your cat for the X-rays if they appear painful. Once our team confirms your cat’s diagnosis, we can discuss treatment options to help reduce their pain, improve their mobility, and stop the progressive inflammatory cycle.

Q: How can I help my arthritic cat feel better?

A: Feline arthritis treatments have evolved. Pain medication is no longer the only available treatment. Once our team has made a definitive arthritis diagnosis, we present you with all your whiskered pal’s treatment options and discuss various strategies that will work best for your family schedule, your finances, and your cat’s health history and temperament. Keep in mind that if oral medications are contraindicated or difficult to administer, many other pain-relief options are available. Feline arthritis potential treatment strategies include one or more of the following:

  • Pain or anti-inflammatory medications
  • Glucosamine or fatty acid supplements
  • Once-monthly injectable monoclonal antibody treatments
  • Prescription diets
  • Physical therapy
  • Laser therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Surgery

Q: What household changes can I make to help maintain my cat’s mobility?

A: Household accommodations can reduce your cat’s pain level, encourage movement and exercise, and ensure they have easy access to all needed resources. Try the following:

  • Place low-sided  litter boxes, and food and water bowls on each house level.
  • Add comfy beds in your cat’s favorite places.
  • Place ramps or stairs near favored furniture or window ledges.
  • Implement a toy rotation and encourage daily movement and play.

Q: How can I prevent my young cat from developing arthritis?

A: To help prevent or delay arthritis onset, help your whiskered pal maintain a healthy weight and encourage frequent exercise to build muscle strength and resilience. Feed your cat a nutritious diet throughout their life, outfit your home with ledges, catwalks, and cat trees to encourage movement, and interact with your cat daily to encourage them to play.

Cats are naturally agile and curious, and they have the potential to continue exploring, jumping, and running well into old age. Help your whiskered pal combat arthritis pain by ensuring they have annual wellness visits for early disease detection. Schedule your cat’s appointment with our Greenfield Veterinary Clinic team, so we can diagnose their condition and initiate pain-relieving treatment.