Arthritis is very common in older cats, but often goes undetected and untreated.
Recent studies suggest that up to 90% of cats in New Zealand over the age of 12 suffer from arthritis in their limbs or back. Arthirits is as prevalent in cats as it is in dogs but is diagnosed at a much lower rate. This is partly because cats are not small dogs and the signs of arthritis in cats are very different from the signs in dogs. In particular, lameness is often not the main finding.
What are the causes of arthritis?
The majority of cases are caused by wear and tear similar to human arthritis. The elbow and hip joints and lower spine are most commonly affected, reflecting the very active jumping lifestyle of the cat.
How is arthritis detected?
The observation of the cat owner is critical. Common signs include:
- Unable or unwilling to jump and slower on stairs
- Increased sleeping & reduced actifity
- Grumpy or aloof with owners
- Resentment of handling
- Reduced grooming with a matted or greasy coat
- Reduced appetite
- Urinating or defecating inside
There are a number of safe and effective treatment options, yet recent studies showed only 7% of cats diagnosed with arthritis were receiving treatment! We owe it to our cats to change this statistic. Arthritis is a very painful disease. Just ask any human sufferer!
Has your old cat slowed down, stopped jumping or changed their behaviour? Too often we tend to put the signs of arthiritis down to old age. However, they may well be suffering in pain. Your cat deserves a good quality of pain free life in their old age, so if you suspect the are displaying any of the signs of arthritis mentioned, please make an appointment to get them checked.