Arthritis – How To Help Your Older Cat

By Valdette Muller| October 20, 2017 | Blog

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Recent studies have shown that roughly 30% of cats over the age of 8 suffer from arthritis.

8 years is not that old for a cat, as most cats can live up to 17 years. There are some special cases, such as Nutmeg who was recorded as One Of The Oldest cats in the world. Nutmeg lived for 32 years and past away recently in September 2017.31-year-old-cat-nutmeg-fb__700-png

As cats progress into their senior years (from the age of 7), it is common for many of them to develop joint problems.

Until recently, arthritis in cats was not commonly diagnosed or treated.

This may be due to their ability to disguise pain and discomfort as a survival tactic, this makes arthritis difficult to spot and more likely to go untreated.

It is important that cat owners learn to recognise the subtle signs so that your cat can get back to being its normal self.

Fortunately for cats, the advancements in veterinary science, medicine and nutrition, has helped cats live longer and fuller lives.

What causes Cats to get Arthritis?

Osteoarthritis – is a degenerative joint disease which then creates the inflammation of the joint(s).

Cartilage within the joint is then worn away, leading to the inflammation, pain and can lead to a decreased quality of life.

  • Injury and trauma to joints, such as a sprain or fracture can create wear and tear over a period of time.
  • A history of infection, such as kidney disease.
  • Genetics (certain breeds get it worse than others)
  • Obesity can contribute to the strain on your cats joints and cause wear and tear.

Signs that your cat may be in pain or discomfort 

To spot signs of arthritis you can help your cat by identifying subtle changes in their behaviour such as hygiene and mood changes.

Hygiene Changes:  

  • Reduced time spent grooming themselves.
  • Matted, greasy fur from not being able to reach and clean certain parts of their body.
  • Missing the litter box when urinating.

Mood Changes:

  • Irritated if handled in anyway.
  • Increased aggression from being in pain, such as hissing when being provoked or startled.
  • Avoids contact with any animal or person.

Reduced Physical Activity:

  • Sleeping more than usual.
  • Not interested in play time.
  • Unwilling to explore outside or move around.

Mobility Changes:

  • Walking slow, unable to run fast.
  • Hesitation to react or move fast, such as jumping off and on a table.
  • Showing difficulty in climbing stairs, getting into the litter box or using a cat flap.
  • Demonstrating a stiffness towards the way he/she moves.

Managing your cat’s mobility issues

Before making any changes to your cat’s lifestyle, have your cat examined by your vet. Your vet may be able to detect any swelling, pain and inflammation to confirm any suspicions that you might have.

With treatment and simple changes to your cat’s environment and lifestyle, arthritis can be managed successfully. 

  • If your cat is overweight, diet and weight-control exercises can help reduce the amount of strain on your cats joints.
  • Medication prescribed by your vet, will not cure arthritis but can help reduce pain and inflammation to improve your cat’s quality of life.
  • Give your senior cats supplements with omega 3 fatty acids, such as GCS Joint Care Advanced Gel for Cats and Supercat which are good for anti-inflammatory use.

Help your cat in the home

  • Have regular check ups at the vet. As your cat ages, it is important to maintain communication with your vet to ensure they are enjoying their senior years.
  • Please encourage your cat to play and interact with you. This will help provide some easy exercise and mental stimulation for them.
  • Cutting your cat’s claws may help them if they find it difficult to scratch their scratching post.
  • Spend some time cleaning and grooming your cat if they are unable to reach the hard-to-reach places on their body.
  • Make sure that your cat can reach their food and water is easily.
  • Have steps or ramps for your cat to get up and down higher points of the house.
  • Make sure to give your senior cat a soft comfortable bed in a more quiet location.

Sources: https://www.preventivevet.com/cats/arthritis-and-other-mobility-issues-in-older-cats-how-you-can-help
https://icatcare.org/advice/cat-health/arthritis-and-degenerative-joint-disease-cats
http://www.petmd.com/cat/care/evr_ct_caring_for_older_cats_with_health_problems

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