Peterborough West Animal Hospital – Osteoarthritis in Cats

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Osteoarthritis – OUCH

We once thought cats were not affected by osteoarthritis; now we know that cats are just as likely to suffer from arthritis as dogs do!  In a study conducted in 2011, 61% of cats over the age of 6 have arthritis in one joint and 48% have arthritis in more than one joint, and 82% of cats suffer with osteoarthritis by age of 14.  OUCH!

Although cats have been domesticated for thousands of years, they have not lost their instinct for “survival of the fittest”; therefore, they hide their pain to ensure they do not become prey.  In addition to this our cats have become an integral part of our family, and we want to show them how much we love them, thus, we give them treats and we overfeed them or we inadvertently feed them the wrong food!  Consequently we now have overweight felines which increase the likelihood that “Kitty” will become arthritic or adds stress to the already arthritic joint(s).

The signs of arthritis are so subtle and progresses so slowly that many cat parents think it is just their cat aging that is causing these small changes.  It is important to note that old age is NOT a disease, although some diseases do accompany aging!  

Some signs of arthritic pain in cats may include:

  • Not jumping up on furniture or counters they previously easily pounced upon
  • Urinating or defecating outside a litter box – especially in boxes with entries that require stepping over
  • More frequent hiding or changes in sleeping
  • Not frequenting upstairs as often as before
  • Less play behavior or sleeping through the  “midnight crazies”
  • Not eating or drinking normally
  • Slow when rising from sleeping; appears “stiff”
  • Weight loss despite no changes in food or feeding
  • Reluctance to eat hard kibble (although typically associated with oral or tooth pain, osteoarthritis can also affect the jaw)
  • Almost anything else that’s “weird” or “unusual” for a normally active kitty

There are many options for the arthritic kitty; from food choices, to nutritional supplements to specific feline safe medications, please be sure to bring your cat in annually for a comprehensive physical exam so we can address any changes in your kitty’s activity and behaviour.  If your cat is diagnosed with arthritis we have many helpful suggestions to ensure your cat has access to everything s/he needs without having to strain his/her aching body.

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