What Exactly Is Arthritis?

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Cat arthritis is a disease that tends to affect older cats. It is a progressive, degenerative disease that is also known as osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease. The disease can affect any joint. Arthritis in cats hips can cause a big drop in motility due to the pain.


What Are the Causes Of Cat Arthritis?


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Arthritis in cats can be caused by a variety of things, including injury, infection and just plain old age. Obesity predisposes for arthritis because the extra weight strains the joints.


What are the Feline Arthritis Symptoms?

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The first symptoms that a cat will show are usually behavioural changes. They will groom themselves less because they don't have the mobility that they had before. They will also avoid the litter box if it is difficult to get in and out of and the will become more reclusive and more irritable. They will demonstrate a varying level of stiffness, pain and loss of muscle on physical examination.


How Will My Vet Diagnose Arthritis In My Cat?


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Your veterinarian will look at the cat's symptoms and will perform a physical exam. The vet will probably order x-rays of the cat's joints as well. This will indicate if the bones of the joints are showing alterations and the degree that they have degenerated.


Treating Arthritis in Cats


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The pain level in cats with arthritis will vary. In moderate cases, no pain medicine may be required, but more severe cases may require it. There are several pain medications that are safe to give cats. Consult your veterinarian to see which are safe. One that is TOXIC for cats is Tylenol, which has acetaminophen as the active ingredient. NEVER GIVE CATS TYLENOL. Depending on the level of pain, corticosteroids may be used to lessen the inflammation.


Your vet may prescribe other medications to help manage the disease process. There are chondroprotective supplements that can help protect joints and even repair some of the damage. Glucosamine-chondroitin is one example.


There are several things that can be done to help ease the cat's pain. Make the cat's environment more comfortable by making access to favourite spots easier with cat ramps or stairs (if the places are on higher ground, so to speak) and put comfortable beds for the cat to lie on so that the cat isn't lying on the hard ground. Make sure the litter box is large enough and easily accessible to move in and out of.


Massage, physical therapy and acupuncture may be helpful for cats. Each cat is an individual and must be evaluated for these alternative treatments on an individual basis. Overweight cats should be encouraged to lose weight. Moderate exercise and switching to a light diet can help with this. A lighter cat will put less strain on the joints.


Final Thoughts

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No one wants to say, "My cat has arthritis," but, unfortunately more and more cat owners are doing so because more and more cats are reaching middle age and beyond and the degeneration of joints is a natural part of growing older. This doesn't mean that your furry, feline friend can't enjoy a full and happy life even after diagnosis. Advances in the treatment of arthritis in cats has made this posisble. Cat arthritis can be managed with the right combination of therapy and love.