Common Symptoms and Treatments of Feline Arthritis

Lisa Selvaggio
by Lisa Selvaggio
The onset of feline arthritis as your cat ages is a health concern pet parents need to watch for. Know what the symptoms are what treatments are available.

Feline arthritis is characterized by inflammation and pain in the joints, and it can be the result of an infection, an autoimmune disorder, a dislocation of a joint, or an injury, as well as natural deterioration of joint cartilage as a result of age.

If your kitty suffers from arthritis, his mobility will decrease, so understanding the symptoms and getting him the right treatments will ensure he gets the relief he needs.

Related: How Feline Behavior Can Change With Age

We’ve outlined a short guide to the symptoms and treatments of feline arthritis. As always, this information isn’t meant to be a substitute for the advice of an experienced and knowledgeable veterinarian, so if you suspect that your cat may have arthritis, have him examined by your vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Symptoms of Feline Arthritis

Felines with arthritis may appear as though they’re in pain, or you may notice that they’re stiff and have trouble getting around. You may also note swollen joints and a loss of muscle mass.

Related: How To Bond With Your New Senior Cat

Because of difficulty getting around, your cat may exhibit symptoms that include decreased activity and a hesitation when it comes to climbing stairs, jumping, and running. Your cat may also experience stiffness after he plays and exercises.

Other symptoms include lameness, trouble getting up, lethargy, and decreased flexibility. When you pet or pick up your kitty, he may also show signs of discomfort or wish to be left alone.

Your cat may have difficulty getting into and out of the litter box, too, especially if he has to step up to climb into it because it’s quite high. If this is the case, he may end up eliminating outside of the box in order to avoid the pain of stepping into and out of it. Simply switching to a litter box that’s easier for your kitty to get into could resolve this problem, provided that there aren’t other medical conditions contributing to his poor litter box habits.

Treatments for Feline Arthritis

Even though there is no cure for arthritis, there are a variety of treatments available that will help make your cat more comfortable.

Once your cat has been diagnosed with feline arthritis, your vet will direct you to the best remedies, which include:

  • Prescription pain medications designed for cats with arthritis. These may include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), disease-modifying osteoarthritis drugs (DMOADs), and corticosteroids that reduce inflammation but are often only used for short periods of time.
  • Nutritional supplements, such as glucosamine and chondroitin, may help with replenishing cartilage. Changes in diet may also help provide the right nutrients to reduce pain and inflammation while improving mobility.
  • A weight loss plan may be necessary if the arthritis is aggravated by excess weight on the joints.
  • Gentle, short play sessions on soft surfaces can be introduced gradually while avoiding vigorous play sessions.
  • Massages, provided by the cat owner or a professional pet massage therapist, may increase circulation and flexibility.
  • Warm compresses on affected joints may provide relief.
  • Keeping your cat dry and warm and providing a soft and padded cat bed can help, as damp and cold conditions can aggravate arthritis.
  • Acupuncture is a natural option that may bring relief from pain and improve mobility.
  • Surgery may be recommended for advanced cases.

Make Life Easier for Your Kitty

If your cat has been diagnosed with arthritis, you can help make things easier for him by placing his litter box, bowls, and cat beds in easy to access areas that don’t require him to walk too far or jump high. You can even purchase pet steps that you can place at the edge of your bed or couch, making it easier for your kitty to climb up without having to jump. And you can also groom any areas of your cat’s body that are difficult for him to reach and clean on his own.

Ultimately, the key is to work with your vet to make your cat as comfortable as possible and improve his joint health as much as possible.

Lisa Selvaggio
Lisa Selvaggio

Lisa Selvaggio is a freelance writer and editor, and our resident cats-pert, with certifications in pet nutrition and pet first aid. She enjoys producing content that helps people understand animals better so they can give their pets a safe and happy home.

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