Q: Does my cat have arthritis?

Mary T.

How can I tell if my cat has arthritis?

Chosen Answer

Cats do, like dogs, suffer osteoarthritis. The signs of cat arthritis might be different — your cat may not be limping visibly like an arthritic dog — but there are other indications of pain and discomfort, especially in cats over 10 years of age.

Osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease (DJD) can afflict both cats and dogs. Sometimes the cause is even the same; hip dysplasia, that infamous canine problem, is linked to osteoarthritis in cats, too. Lameness is not common in cats with DJD or osteoarthritis, in part because cats are lighter, smaller, more agile, and they can cope. That doesn’t necessarily mean business as usual.

Signs of osteoarthritis in senior cats can include: decreased grooming (it’s harder to twist around), reluctance or inability to jump as high as they once could, urinating or soiling outside the litter box, hiding, avoiding human interaction, dislike of being brushed or stroked, and either increased or decreased sleep. Medication for pain and inflammation is not so easy in cats, which do not tolerate most NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti inflammatory drugs). Your veterinarian might prescribe a COX-2 selective NSAID called meloxicam, but never ever give NSAIDs to cats without a vet’s approval.

Rehabilitation therapy (creative exercise, passive range-of-motion), nutraceuticals (chondroitin sulfate, for instance), or acupuncture might help a cat cope with osteoarthritis.

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