Do cats get arthritis?
Most senior cats do have osteoarthritis (OA). As a result, veterinarians assume any cat over 10 years of age has OA, unless proved otherwise. The most common locations are the elbow, knee and hip.
How can I tell if my cat has OA?
Muscle atrophy from limb disease can indicate chronic pain. Overgrown claws can be a sign of decreased mobility. Also, cats with OA may have unkempt fur because they do not feel well enough to groom or cannot groom themselves without pain. Cats may also over-groom painful areas. Cats with OA tend to develop joint pain and swelling However, the typical signs of OA, such as joint effusion (fluid on the joint cavity), restricted range of motion and crepitus (a grating sound or sensation produced by friction between bone and cartilage or the fractured parts of a bone) are not always present in cats. Behavioral changes are the most common indicator of issues with OA. Watch for signs of pain, such as hiding and becoming aggressive. It is a good idea for an owner to take a video of their cat grooming, going and an out of the litter box, as well as other movement. Also, owners should look at how their cat rests. Most cats tuck in their forelimbs, while a cat with OA will often extend the limb.
What can be done for my cat with OA?
There are several options available for cats with OA. First, a visit to the veterinarian is necessary for a proper diagnosis. If your cat is overweight, the first step is to discuss weight loss. Overweight and obese cats are 3 times more likely to develop OA. Obesity puts extra stress on the joints and contributes to chronic inflammation. Additionally, there are several new medications that can help with pain. And, there are many other options, such as supplementation with Omega-3 fatty acids that have proven effective in assisting with activity levels. Last, raising your cat’s water and food bowls can help cats with elbow OA eat with their elbows extended, which is less painful. It is a good idea to relocate litter boxes to make them more accessible for your cat.
If you are concerned that your cat may be having issues with OA, please give us a call. We are here to give you the answers you need to help your cat.