Infographic on spotting joint discomfort in cats

Domestic cats are living longer as is the case for humans due to advances in medical treatments. Studies on older cats looking at radiographs revealed that 90% of them over the age of 12 had evidence of degenerative joint disease. Osteoarthritis is under-diagnosed at veterinary clinics and it is extremely common in older cats according to Dr. Bruce Fogle DVM.

Cat joint discomfort signs
Cat joint discomfort signs. Infographic by MikeB. Click on it to see it larger if on a laptop or desktop.
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Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis. The cartilage between bones at joints wears away exposing underlying bone which becomes inflamed and painful. Some cat breeds are more predisposed to it and, for example, the Maine Coons cat has an inherited condition called hip dysplasia which is a loose hip joint. Abyssinian cats can suffer from knee arthritis.

Scottish Fold cats are prone to developing arthritis in many joints. Burmese cats can develop elbow arthritis more than other breeds according to Dr. Fogle.

Being obese, as is the case with humans again, does not necessarily cause arthritis but it does make it worse. As a very high percentage of cats develop arthritis in old age, it’s important that they do not become obese.

RELATED: Home Treatment For Cat Arthritis

Home care for cat with joint discomfort

The cat caregiver can make some simple adjustments at home to accommodate the arthritic cat. These can improve the quality of life of an elderly cat. A veterinarian can provide medication and advice on nutrition.

Here are some pointers:

  • Provide soft and particularly comfortable bedding
  • Provide the bedding in a place which is accessible, warm and quiet
  • Arthritic cats are more likely to enjoy the feeling of security and enclosed spaces which may encourage the cat caregiver to buy an igloo type bed.
  • Microwaveable warmers can help make the bed cosier and warmer.
  • Radiator hammocks can be problematic because they might be difficult for an arthritic cat to jump up to and jumped down from.
  • High places can be made accessible with carpeted ramps.
  • The cat flap can be adjusted to make it a bit lower and therefore easier to use. The flat might be left open in a fixed position during the summer months.
  • The litter substrate and litter tray can be adjusted. The substrate can be softer and the sides of the tray could be lower.
  • Of course, the caregiver should consider grooming their cat more often to make up for their cat’s deficiencies and check for ingrowing claws on a regular basis.

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