Do cats get arthritis?

Cats, especially kittens are very playful animals. With boundless energies, kittens would spend long hours playing with their toys and even chasing imaginary insects. The energetic behavior would not be lessened as the cats grow older. Mature cats would now have the inclination to climb trees to hunt for nestlings and to perch on the roof to survey its surroundings. Cat owners would always be entertained by the antics of the pet. Cats though, like humans, age. Advancement in age would not only slow down a cat. Cats would also develop health concerns associated with aging. One of these health conditions is arthritis.

Arthritis is a degenerative disease of the skeletal joints. Bones, joints, connective tissues and muscles are parts of a cat’s musculoskeletal system. Joints that connect bones act as hinges that allows a cat to move with flexibility. The ends of bones are covered by cartilages. These tough and smooth substances have the function of cushioning the bones to provide protection and shock absorption. The joints are lined with synovial tissues filled with joint fluid that provides lubrication to reduce friction. The stress of constant use would erode the cartilage at the ends of the bones. The swelling and the stiffness of the joints will cause the cat pain so that the pet’s mobility is impaired.

There are different forms of feline arthritis. The most common are traumatic arthritis and osteoarthritis. In traumatic arthritis, the inflammation of the joints results from a trauma like injuries sustained during cat fights or when the cat had a bad fall. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage is damaged. Abnormal joint structure or undue stress received by the joints can damage the cartilage. Cartilage damage can be due to the normal wear and tear that occurs with age. This is why arthritis is more common in senior cats.

No cat owner would want to see the pet weighed down by arthritis. The obvious pain and discomfort the cat is going through will be heartrending. Cats, as mentioned, are generally nimble and lively animals. A cat with arthritis though would have reduced mobility. The gait of the pet will be altered. Because of the pain, the cat would have no inclination to walk, to jump and to do its normal activities. If ever the pet walks, it will be seen limping or favoring one limb or one side of the body. Even the simple movement of rising from a resting position would be very difficult for the pet. The pain is caused when bones that are no longer padded by cartilage rub together.

There is no known cure for feline arthritis. However, it is possible to make the life of the pet comfortable. Various treatments for this degenerative disease can significantly improve the quality of the pet’s life. Vets would usually prescribe NSAIDS to relieve the pain and the inflammation of the joints. Obesity is one of the contributing factors for the development of arthritis as the extra weight of the cat would put more pressure on the joints. Weight management would therefore be very necessary. Some pet parents have taken to giving the pet supplements that will repair cartilage damage by promoting cell growth. Traditional medications and homeopathic remedies were proven to have the beneficial effects of relieving the symptoms and promoting the cat’s health. Exercise will loosen the cat’s stiff joints. Enticing the cat to exercise can be difficult but it would help if the pet will be encouraged to walk a bit. Toys can entice an arthritic cat to play. These medications and remedies will not slow the progression of the disease but they can effectively manage the symptoms thereby allowing the pet to have relatively normal life.