Arthritis in Cats


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As the cooler months are settling in our vets are definitely feeling the cold! Like us, cats and dogs can feel the cold as well and chronic pain like arthritis can be more pronounced. We have a lot of success stories on dogs that respond very well to arthritis treatment but we would like to discuss our feline friends as well!

To point out the obvious - cats are different to dogs! This applies to how they feel and handle pain and what we see in regards to their arthritis as well. In dogs we commonly see limping/lameness, joint thickening, becoming stiff and even vocalising in pain with arthritis. But did you know that cats rarely limp even with severe arthritis? And that they often do not show any obvious signs of pain? Often the only real signs we see are that our feline friends are less active or we feel that they are getting old.

If you own (or are owned!) by a senior citizen cat then here are some questions you could ask yourself, such as:

1) Is your cat less willing to jump up or down from furniture, or only go half way up cat towers?

2) Is your cat finding it difficult to use the litter tray or having more accidents?

3) Does your cat take longer, or struggle to get up and down stairs?

4) Has your cat recently changed its walking pattern or the way it sits or lays down?

5) Overall is your cat less playful or less agile?

6) Does your cat having issues grooming or is it over grooming certain areas or joints?

Some cat breeds such as Maine Coons can be at risk of hip dysplasia and any trauma can add to risk of arthritis in future.

As many of our regular clients know, our resident cat CeeCee, who is 17 years old, looks after our clinic at Willunga. CeeCee first came to us as a kitten with a broken leg after being hit by a car. She started to show signs of arthritis a few years ago now and sometimes it is bad enough that she actually limps. We all know when she is having a bad day as she is less interactive with us, complains more if her food is placed in a hard to reach place, doesn’t jump up on the counter to greet us and spends a lot more time in bed. She used to be on daily anti-inflammatories to control her pain but regular blood tests showed she also has some kidney disease, so instead she is on a different daily pain relief. She also has monthly injections of “Cartrophen” a dog registered product that helps the cartilage in joints and tries to provide more lubrication for joint movement.

This doesn’t remove her arthritis but does keep it at a level that we feel she is comfortable with and we tend to see more happy days than sad days - when she is interactive and moving about the clinic.

Other strategies that can help include things like providing steps/ramps to window sills or furniture that your cat enjoys sitting on, deep soft beds without an edge, and “open” litter trays that your cat can walk straight into. Sometimes elevating feed and water bowls can also help. The other important thing is to keep your cat at a healthy weight. Less weight means less stress on bones and joints.

We have numerous pain relief options and long term plans for arthritic cats at Willunga and Aldinga Vet Clinics, so please contact us on 8556 2075 (WVS) or 8556 5498 (AVC) to organise a consult if you have any concerns. We also have a lot of hints and therapeutic diets available for any weighty issues your cat may be experiencing.

 


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