Osteoarthritis in Cats

Cat Arthritis - Causes & Treatment Of Feline Osteoarthritis


What is feline osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (also known as degenerative joint disease) is the most common form of "arthritis" (which means joint inflammation). It mainly affects the cartilage which is the slippery tissue over the end of the bone in the joint. In the healthy cat, this allows the bones to glide over each other, & acts as a shock absorber. There are no nerves in cartilage, so normal joint movement isn’t painful. When arthritis develops this slippery layer breaks down & wears away. There are however nerves in the bones & when the bones of the joints then rub together this leads to pain, swelling  & loss of motion. Eventually the bone may loose it's shape. Bony spurs (osteophytes) & thickening of the bone may result.  Pieces of bone & cartilage may break off causing more pain & inflammation.


What causes it?

Injury & trauma to the joint, wear & tear, normal aging of the pet, congenital joint problem, recurrent injury to the joint & obesity (which causes an excessive load on the joints).


What are the symptoms?

Some symptoms of feline osteoarthritis include...

        *  Difficulty walking

*  Avoiding using the affected joint (non weight baring on limb)

*  Stiff gait

*  Limping

*  Swollen/hot joints

*  Decrease in activity

*  Playing and going outside less frequently

*  Sleeping in different, easier to access sites

*  Reluctance to jump up or down from furniture

*  Litter tray accidents, missing the tray, reluctance to climb into high sided trays

*  Pain in specific areas you touch

*  Lack of tolerance of handling, children, other pets

*  May groom itself less or over grooming of painful joints

These symptoms may be exacerbated in during cold or wet weather conditions.

How is it diagnosed?

Your vet will do a physical exam of your cat & ask about its history. Radiographic x-rays, ultrasounds & or examination of the joint fluid may be performed.


Who's affected by osteoarthritis?

It is most commonly seen in overweight or older felines. The age your cat is classified as a “senior” pet is 7 years. Osteoarthritis signs may be seen from this age, but prevention before this age will increase the time frame before your pet has issues.


How is it treated?

Early diagnosis of osteoarthritis is important in helping minimise pain & further damage to the affected joint(s).

If the cat is overweight, careful weight loss & increased exercise will be necessary.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be prescribed. Reducing inflammation in the joint can relieve pain & increase mobility. If your cat is a “senior” or have kidney problems, a series of blood tests will need to be done first to make sure you cat is healthy & fine to have these types of medications.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin (Glyde): Glucosamine is a major component of cartilage. Chondroitin enhances the formation of cartilage and inhibits enzymes in the joint, which tend to break down cartilage.

Surgery: Arthrodesis is sometimes recommended. This involves fusion of the joint surfaces. Reconstructive procedures may be performed if the cause of the osteoarthritis is caused by anatomic defects in the joint(s).


Prevention Tips:

Providing warm bedding for where ever your cat sleeps. This may include the use of a heating pad bed, fluffy/sheep skin beds, etc. It's important to ensure your cat's bedding is in a warm & draft free spot.

Place litter trays & food bowls in an easily accessible area.

Giving your cat premium pet food, like Eukanuba, Iams or Science Diet, in correct amounts to prevent overweight cats.

Also giving over 7 year old cats premium Senior food for lower fat and Glucosamine additives.

Checking with your vet and giving Glucosamine and Chondroitin supplements before problems arrive.