Categories: arthritis

How can you tell if your cat has arthritis?

Although I am not a veterinarian I think it’s important that cat guardians know the signs of arthritis in their cat because it is painful and you want to do the best you can for her and, secondly, early care may reduce the severity of any subsequent lameness. That’s why I am writing this short post. Your veterinarian will discuss treatments if you want to go down that route. I’m referring in this instance to osteoarthritis which is degenerative joint disease. This is a joint which has been worn down and is the most common form of arthritis in cats. The cartilage covering the surfaces of the joint is badly worn and the bone underneath becomes rough which damages the joint. It occurs in joints which have been stressed, fractured or dislocated.

Arthritis in the elbow of a domestic cat. Image: Glendowie-St. Hiliers Veterinary Clinic.

Dr Yuki Hattori, the well-known Japanese cat doctor and author (What Cats Want) says that if you notice your cat scratching her claws less often or see that her claws are less sharp than they used to be you should pay close attention to how she walks and sits. These actions may help you decide if she is suffering from arthritis. That’s one possibility and an early sign.

Other signs would, of course, be stiffness and lameness. It is worse when a cat gets up from a long sleep and improves as the day goes on. It pays to do some detective work. There may be swelling around the affected joints. There also may be some wasting of the muscles on the legs which are subject to arthritis as they are not used as much.

Perhaps a clear sign might be an unusual reluctance to jump on the basis that she jumped fluently and often beforehand. The discomfort may cause your cat to become irritable and her behaviour may change because of the disability. It may be particularly apparent when it is cold and damp because these conditions increase pain and stiffness.

Veterinarians diagnose osteoarthritis by an x-ray of the joints. This article is deliberately short as a discussion on cat health problems is the work of a qualified veterinary medic.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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