Arthritis is a chronic joint condition that can affect people as they get older, and your cat may also develop it as they age. In fact, arthritis has been reported to affect 90% of cats who are 12 years of age or older. Here are three things cat owners need to know about arthritis.
What are the signs of arthritis in cats?
If your cat is suffering from arthritis, you may notice that they're limping. This limp may be worse in the morning when your cat first wakes up. They may have trouble doing activities they used to enjoy, like jumping onto your kitchen counters.
Being in pain can also make your cat grumpier than usual. When you try to pet or handle your cat, they may bite you or scratch you. Licking or chewing on their joints is another sign that your cat is in pain.
Why do cats develop arthritis?
Cats develop arthritis for the same reason that people do. Their joints are cushioned by cartilage, a soft material that keeps the bones from rubbing against each other and causing pain. Over the years, this cartilage can wear away, and when this happens, the bones come into direct contact with each other, leading to pain.
Can arthritis be treated?
There's no cure for arthritis, but your vet can offer many treatments to help make your cat more comfortable. Your cat may be prescribed pain relievers like buffered aspirin. Cats are sensitive to aspirin, so you should only use it as directed by a veterinarian. Corticosteroids can also be given to reduce the inflammation in their joints.
Lifestyle changes can also provide relief for cats with arthritis. About half of all American pets are overweight, and if your cat is one of them, losing weight can help take pressure off of their sore joints. It's important that your vet monitors this weight loss program as excessive weight loss can lead to liver problems in cats. Your vet will let you know how much to feed your cat to allow them to lose weight safely.
Exercise can also help your cat's joints feel better; plus, it can help them lose weight if they're overweight. Some people are able to teach their cats to walk on a leash, but if your cat isn't interested in that, use new toys—like lasers, catnip, toy mice or cat towers—to encourage them to exercise.
If you think your cat might be suffering from arthritis, take them to a vet, such as the East Lake Animal Clinic.