Recognising Arthritis Pain in Your Feline Friend

Cats are extremely good at hiding pain, there can be many reasons for this. One of the reasons is their survival instinct that comes from their predecessors to hide pain. Unfortunately, this leads to a lack of recognition or understanding from owners that their cats are in pain.

Often owners have a belief that if their pets are showing signs such as limping or the way the pet walks has changed, that the pet isn’t in any pain or discomfort. Due to cats hiding pain very well if your pet is physically showing these signs, your pet is calling out for help.

Most of you probably know someone who suffers from arthritis and that it isn’t a very pleasant disease. For those that are fortunate enough not to know someone who suffers from this degenerative disease, following, is a quick overview for you.

Arthritis also known as osteoarthritis, is where the normal cartilage that cushions the joint starts to degenerate and is then worn away resulting in inflammation, discomfort, ongoing damage and secondary changes in and around the joint. As a result, you can get crepitus, this is where one bone rubs against another.

Arthritis can be associated with injury, a breed predisposition due to genetics or due to age-related changes which should never be ignored. Arthritis should not be left untreated just because your cat is getting older and arthritis thought of as something that is normal for a cat in their senior years. Like a wise man once said, “age is not a disease”(W Foreman).

The following are changes that may help you recognise arthritis pain in your furry feline:

Reduced Mobility:

  • Unable to jump up onto things that were once an easy task
  • Reluctance and hesitance to jump up or down
  • Difficulty in getting up from either a sitting or sleeping position
  • Walking stiff-legged or with a limp
  • Struggling to navigate a cat flap
  • Toileting accidents, unable to get in or out of litter tray or not being able to physically hold the position required to toilet like they once did.

Modified Grooming:

  • Matted and tattered looking coat
  • Reduced time spent grooming or not grooming at all
  • Claws are overgrown and thickened as not able to sharpen them and reduced mobility issues.
  • Over-grooming over the painful joint.
Activity and Temperament changes:
  • Resting or sleeping more than normal
  • Sleeping in places that are easier to access
  • Exploring one's environment has ceased
  • Alteration in interaction with other pets and or people
  • Irritable when handled or stroked
  • Avoiding contact altogether with pets and people
  • Wanting to be left alone

If your cat is showing signs of any of the above, please phone one of our clinics to make an appointment to implement a treatment plan.

Managing arthritis works best if you take a multimodal approach to treatment. Things that may be considered for managing arthritis can range from environmental changes (pet ramps and pet stairs when your cat is no longer able to jump up or down, soft bedding, a heat source that can be placed in the cat's bed) nutraceuticals, diet and prescription medication.


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