Identify and Treat Osteoarthritis in Cats

A drop in physical activity could be a sign that your cat is suffering from osteoarthritis. Understand the symptoms and possible ways to treat this condition...

Have you noticed your cat isn’t as active and playful as it once was? While cats are known for enjoying hours of basking in the warm sun, no longer engaging in physical activities they once enjoyed could be a sign of the onset of osteoarthritis.

Here’s how you can check if your cat may be suffering from this disease and how you can treat it.

One of the primary signs of possible osteoarthritis, is when your cat loses interest in playing with their favourite toy or they go through a change in activity levels. This could indicate that moving around is causing them pain.

However, if your cat was never very active, CareVets outlines some other common signs of osteoarthritis in cats.

  • As osteoarthritis affects the joints, almost any movement will cause some level of discomfort. So, watch to see if your cat is finding it difficult to do basic movements like walking or climbing stairs. Also, are you noticing them limping, do they look ‘stiff’ after a nap and seem slow to get up after a prolonged time lying down?
  • Cats with osteoarthritis may also find it more difficult to groom themselves, or you may notice them licking, or even biting, at a specific joint for extended periods. You may also notice these joints are swollen and warm to the touch.
  • Your usually snuggly and affectionate cat may also no longer enjoy being touched and shy away from contact with you.

If you think your cat may have osteoarthritis, it’s best to take them to your vet as soon as possible. The earlier you can confirm the diagnosis the earlier you can start treatment and improve the quality of life for your kitty.

Possible treatments for osteoarthritis in cats

  • Weight management. Increased weight can add stress to joints, so if your cat’s a little portly, alongside other treatments, it’s a good idea to help it lose some weight.
  • Joint supplements. These can help rebuild any damaged cartilage between the joints, making movement smoother and less painful.
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs. As their name suggests, these drugs reduce inflammation in the joints that are causing pain, making it easier for your cat to move.
  • Exercise. This will not only to help your cat lose weight if needed, but it will also help strengthen the muscles around the affected joints.

In addition to the above treatments, make sure your cat has a warm, comfortable bed to lie down and sleep in. There are some great, and relatively inexpensive, orthopaedic pet beds with memory foam mattresses that can help. Also, make things like their litter box, food and water bowls are easy for them to access and use.

Osteoarthritis doesn’t have to mean the end of an active, happy life for your cat. With the right treatment, supplements, or medication, your cat can continue to do what it enjoys for many years to come.