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Arthritis in Cats: The Causes, Signs, Treatment and Prognosis of Osteoarthritis in Cats

by Vetic Editorial
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What Is Arthritis In Cats?

An informative illustration explaining arthritis in cats, including a detailed diagram of a joint and an outline of a cat highlighting common areas affected by arthritis. The illustration is titled “What is Arthritis?” and is created by veti™. It describes arthritis in cats as a complex condition that causes painful joints and reduces mobility, also known as Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD). The left side of the image features a detailed diagram of a joint affected by arthritis, labeling the bone, tendons, and muscles, and noting that cartilage acts as a cushion between bones at the joints. On the right side, there’s an outline of a cat with red circles indicating common areas affected by arthritis, such as the shoulder, elbow, hip, and knee. The background is white with light blue patterns resembling molecular structures. Text Extracted via OCR: “What is Arthritis? Arthritis in cats is a complex condition that causes painful joints and reduces mobility. It’s also called Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD). The cartilage is normally smooth and acts as a cushion between the bones at the joints. Common areas affected by arthritis. vetic™

Arthritis is the inflammation and degeneration of the joints. It is a complex condition and it’s often known as degenerative joint disease (DJD). Arthritis in cats is a chronic condition.  More than 80% of all cats suffer from osteoarthritis by the time they are around 10 years old. 

Arthritis can affect multiple joints and interfere with a cat’s mobility since it is caused by the gradual breakdown of the joint’s cartilage. The constant movement of the joints further damages the joints and causes pain and swelling. 

It can cause difficulty in your cat moving around, eating, sleeping and even, using the litter box. 

What Are The Signs Of Arthritis In Cats?

An informative image detailing the signs of arthritis in cats, including a diagram of a cat with labeled leg joints and a list of symptoms. The image, titled “Signs Of Arthritis In Cats” and presented by “vetic”, features an illustration of a cat with its leg joints labeled, including the hip, hock (ankle), stifle (knee), elbow, carpus (wrist), and shoulder. On the right side, there are blue bubbles listing symptoms such as difficulty in walking, stiff gait, lameness in one or more legs, apparent lethargy, intermittent inappetence, unexpected aggression, sudden aversion to touch, litter box avoidance, dirty and matted coat, and swollen or stiff joints. A note at the bottom indicates that these signs may not all occur together and can be very subtle.

Arthritis in cats can be difficult to recognise. Sometimes, even veterinarians may struggle to recognise the signs of arthritis since cats are often really good at hiding their discomfort and pain. 

Some signs of arthritis in cats are –

  • Difficulty in walking
  • Stiff gait
  • Lameness in one or more legs
  • Apparent lethargy
  • Intermittent inappetence
  • Unexpected aggression
  • Sudden aversion to touch
  • Litter box avoidance
  • Dirty and matted coat
  • Swollen or stiff joints

The signs may not occur together in all cats. Some signs can be very subtle. 

Litter box aversion can be caused by a cat’s inability to climb the sides of the litter box. The sudden aversion to touch can be due to pain in certain body parts and the poor coat condition can result from the cat’s inability to groom themselves. 

What Causes Arthritis In Cats?

The infographic is titled “Causes of Arthritis In Cats” and features the logo “vetic” at the top right corner. It includes six blue oval shapes with white paw print icons and texts inside them indicating different causes of arthritis in cats: Body shape History of injuries Weight (Obesity) Nutritional history Abnormal joint development Orthopaedic surgery The background is white with faint outlines of cat paw prints, and at the bottom, there’s a statement in black text on a light blue background that reads “Old age is NOT a cause of arthritis in cats.

Although arthritis is commonly diagnosed in older cats, old age is NOT a cause of arthritis. 

Researchers have not yet found a particular cause of arthritis but they have identified multiple factors that contribute to the development of arthritis in cats. 

The causes of arthritis in cats include –

  • Body shape
  • Weight (Obesity)
  • History of injuries 
  • Nutritional history 
  • Orthopaedic surgery
  • Abnormal joint development

Most cats who develop arthritis experience a combination of multiple factors mentioned above. 

How Is Arthritis Diagnosed?

Arthritis in cats is diagnosed through physical examination in most cases. The palpation reveals swellings and pain in the joints affected by degenerative joint disease. 

The veterinarian will check your cat’s hips and elbows, shoulders, knees and backbone to make sure they have full mobility of these joints. 

In more serious cases, the veterinarian may recommend X-ray of the joints to understand the extent of joint damage caused by arthritis. 

In cats, arthritis or painful joints doesn’t mean visible changes in the X-ray. Your cat can have arthritis and experience pain even if their X-ray reports come back normal. 

What’s The Treatment For Arthritis In Cats?

The infographic is titled “Treatment For Arthritis In Cats” and features the logo “vetic” in the top right corner. It includes an illustration of a person wearing gloves and a blue shirt, holding a white cat, set against a white background with faint outlines of cats in various postures. The infographic lists five treatment options for feline arthritis, each presented on a blue banner with accompanying icons: Nutraceuticals for Joint Health Pain Medicines for Joint Pain Prescription Food for Arthritis Physiotherapy for Arthritis Surgery for Cats with Arthritis

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for arthritis. Moreover, several OTC painkillers are highly toxic to cats (example – paracetamol, acetaminophen and diclofenac). 

Each cat will require a tailored nutrition and treatment plan that reduces their pain and improves their quality of life. 

Typically, veterinarians recommend a multimodal treatment and management for arthritis in cats. Treatment for arthritis in cats includes –

Nutraceuticals for Arthritis in Cats

Nutraceuticals are supplements that can reduce the effects of a condition or disease. For example, we have nutraceuticals in the market that contain omega-3 fatty acids, chondroitin, glucosamine and other essential nutrients that help reduce the effects of joint inflammation. 

Pain Medicines for Arthritis in Cats

You need to be very cautious about giving pain medicines to your cat. Common NSAIDs such as meloxicam can work in reducing the pain, but using it for long periods (7 days) has been linked to kidney disease in cats. 

Never give OTC painkillers to your cat. Follow your veterinarians instructions carefully to manage arthritis pain in your cat without side effects. 

We have several types of pain medicines available for cats including corticosteroids, gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) analogue, and NSAIDs. However, you must NEVER combine these drugs without advice from your veterinarian. 

Prescription Food for Arthritis

Tailored nutrition with high levels of EPA, DHA, glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate can improve joint mobility in cats. 

Commonly known as Joint Food, this category of prescription food can reduce inflammation and pain, and continue to reduce the signs of osteoarthritis in cats in the long-term. 

If your vet has recommended prescription food for your cat to address their joint issues you should continue it as long as it’s recommended by the vet even if your cat shows signs of improved mobility. 

Physiotherapy for Cats with Arthritis

Physiotherapy for cats is an emerging alternative therapy that can reduce joint pain and inflammation. You can find physiotherapy for arthritis in cats in a few locations including Vetic Sector 45 in Gurgaon. 

Trained and certified veterinary physiotherapists can use multiple physiotherapy modalities such as infrared (IR) therapy, TENS and Ultrasound Therapy for tissue healing, pain relief and Improving your cat’s range of motion. 

Surgery for Cats with Arthritis

When osteoarthritis in cats is not treated properly and on time, a cat may need more invasive treatment that includes surgery. 

The most common surgery for arthritis in cats is FHO (femoral head ostectomy). It is the recommended surgery for joint fusion of the wrist/ankle and hip dysplasia. 

What Can You Do To Keep Your Cat With Arthritis Comfortable?

As a cat parent, you have every right to feel concerned about your cat’s health. 

While medicines, nutraceuticals and special diet do their work, here are a few things you can do to keep your cat comfortable –

  • Make their litter box more accessible
  • Place steps and ramps for them to reach higher surfaces
  • Raise their food and water bowls
  • Give them soft surfaces to lie down 
  • Stick to a routine for meds, food and physiotherapy

Can Arthritis In Cats Be Cured?

Sadly, arthritis is not curable in cats or even humans. The damage to the joint cartilages can be slowed down or stopped. 

However, there is no way to revert the damage already done to the joints by arthritis. 

The good news is, with proper management and treatment for arthritis in cats, your cat can live a normal healthy life. Osteoarthritis does not affect the life expectancy of cats as long as they are receiving the right care and treatment. 

Can You Prevent Arthritis In Cats?

The infographic, titled “Prevention of Arthritis in Cats” by vetic, showcases a drawing of a striped cat on the left side, reaching out as if playing or stretching. The background is white with a blue header that includes the title. On the right side, there are five tips for preventing arthritis in cats, each with its own icon: Provide proper nutrition (paw print icon) Give them an active lifestyle (running cat icon) Give tailored diet to prevent obesity (scale icon) Take them for vet check-ups (stethoscope icon) Test them for nutritional deficiencies (checklist icon) Below these tips, a note clarifies that while arthritis is not 100% preventable, these measures can help delay its onset and detect the disease early.

There are a few things you can do to keep your cat healthy and possibly prevent arthritis (osteoarthritis) as well. 

  • Provide them with proper kitten food and supplements when they are growing up. 
  • Keep them active throughout their life. 
  • Maintain a healthy body weight. 
  • Try to get them tested for nutritional deficiencies every 6 months. 
  • Visit a veterinarian for a complete physical exam every 6 months. 

We cannot avoid sudden injuries and growth abnormalities in anyone including cats. So, you can only try your best to keep your cat safe and sound throughout their life. 

Stay in touch with your veterinarian to ensure that your cat is healthy, within their optimal weight range and is on a proper diet that facilitates ideal joint health.

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