Cat Arthritis

"Cat arthritis (OA) is seen in older cats (research shows 90% of cats older than 12 years and 61% older than 6 years may have osteoarthritis) and while difficult to diagnose can be successfully treated. All older cats should be screened, particularly if a cat becomes less mobile such as reluctance to jump on perches or doesn't want to climb down or up stairs. The combination of the medications tramadol and meloxicam are frequently used to treat the hypersensitivity that comes from acute (sudden) or more chronic joint pain."

The most common form of feline arthritis is feline osteoarthritis (OA), especially in older cats. It is the same type of arthritis found in humans. It is a condition in which the cartilage between bones wears down. Without the cartilage padding, the bones rub together, causing inflammation and pain.

Causes of ostoearthritis in cats include primary joint disease due to immune-mediated causes (something wrong with your cat's immune system), inherited joint problems, problems resulting from some type of injury or just "wear and tear" from age.

Cat Arthritis Symptoms

Feline arthritis commonly affects the elbows, stifles (leg joints) and hips.

Symptoms of cat arthritis include limping, difficulty rising from a resting position, yelping when touched, or avoiding being touched. Your cat may be reluctant to walk run, jump, climb stairs, or play. Swollen joints are also a sign of arthritis.

Feline Arthritis Diagnosis

Feline osteoarthritis is under-recognized due to difficulties inrecognition of affected cats by both owners and veterinarians since the symptoms are naturally associated with aging.

In addition to a thorough history, your veterinarian will perform a physical exam and then take some x-rays. The x-rays will show if there is adequate cartilage between the bones or not.

To get an accurate picture, sometimes cats will be observed when humans are not present in order to understand the true behavior.

Cat Arthritis Treatment

There are a variety of management strategies and medical treatments that are available to treat feline arthritis that can be very helpful to improve the quality of life for your cat.

Treatment for feline arthritis often includes non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as oral transmucosal meloxicam and tramadol. Meloxicam in particular has shown a positive resonse to treatment. These relieve the pain and inflammation of arthritis. People take NSAIDS like ibuprofen all the time. NSAIDS commonly prescribed by vets include carprofen, meloxicam, tepoxalin, etodolac, deracoxib, and firocaxib. These drugs are effective at managing the symptoms of arthritis, but they don't slow the progression of the disease.

There are many differences between cats in terms of their response to therapy. Some cats will find pain relief with medication while others will not.

Glucosamine and chrondotin are supplements often used to help rebuild cartilage. There is some anecdotal evidence that they are effective in cats but there is little of scientific evidence. They are safe to use in combination with other arthritis treatments, though, so there is no downside to using them except the cost. Cats with diabetes should not use glucosamine and cats with bleeding disorders should not use chrondotin. Talk with your vet about whether or not he or she recommends these supplements for your cat. Note that these supplements will not relieve pain; rather, they will help rebuild the cartilage, helping to reverse the disease process over time.

Supplements For Cats With Arthritis

One supplement to research that contains glucosamine and other natural therapies associated with joint support is offered by PetAlive Muscle & Joint Support Formula. If combines glucosamine and other ingredients such as Harpagophytum procumbens(Devil's Claw) and Arthrospira platenis (Spirulina) to treat the symptoms, relieve pain and reduce stiffness of arthritis, rheumatism and degenerative joint disease in cats.

Diet and weight management can be an important part of arthritis treatment. If your cat is overweight, the extra weight puts too much pressure on her joints, which can cause damage to the cartilage and make arthritis symptoms worse. Your vet can tell you if your pet is overweight, and if so, help you work out a feeding schedule that will help her lose the extra pounds. Losing the extra weight will not only decrease the inflammation and pain, it will slow the progression of the disease.

Exercise is an important component of cat arthritis treatment. It's difficult to make a cat exercise, but you can play with your cat to encourage exercise. Also do not allow your cat to sleep for hours at a time in one spot. Wake her up occasionally and encourage her to walk around a bit.


Feline Arthritis
Pawprints and Purrs

Osteoarthritis and Treatment Options in Pets
Peck, Graham

Caney, Sarah BVSc, PhD, DSAM
Feline Advisory Bureau
Taeselbury, Tisbury, Wiltshire, UK

Grubb, Tamara, DVM, PhD, DACVAA, Analgesia for Cats with Osteoarthritis