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Felinexpress.com Home > Cat Health > Arthritis in Cats

Arthritis in Cats

Generally when we think of arthritis, cats don’t usually come to mind. How could a creature so fleet of feet come down with such a debilitating and inflammatory disease? But, it does happen and not just to the older cats.

Guinevere was eight years old when we adopted her from a local shelter. Run over by her owner and left to mend on her own, Guinevere had severe osteoarthritis. Her back legs were crooked, bent out to the side like a crab. She had developed bone spurs and this limited her movement and increased her pain. Because she had not been given the proper veterinary care in a timely manner, the fear was if we put her through the stress of surgery, her legs would pop back into the old position a few months after surgery. We decided to treat her with both holistic and conventional means and also include acupuncture visits on a weekly basis. Guinevere fooled even the experts and lived ten more years with us before succumbing to a heart attack.

Types of Arthritis in Cats:


(Also called degenerative joint disease) can strike even young kittens if they suffer a traumatic injury to the bone, ligaments or cartilage such as getting run over by a vehicle. Cats with amputated front or back legs often develop this disease over time. Cats/kittens who fall from high places and injure their hips are also in danger of osteoarthritis. In rare instances, kittens whose moms were vaccinated while pregnant will develop this disease. Infectious arthritis resulting from a bacterial or fungal infection in the joints can quickly develop into Osteoarthritis.


This type of arthritis involves the vertebrae. Bone spurs developing in certain points can create pressure points on nerve roots. These weaknesses in the bone can invite bacteria or fungus to invade depending on the cat’s diet and location.

Septic Arthritis-

Caused when the joint becomes infected, generally after a cat bite.

Feline Chronic Progressive Polyarthritis-

A specific disease targeting older cats generally males. Chronic inflammation sets up in the joints and tendons leading to arthritic changes. Lesions will begin to appear on the joints causing pain for the cat.

Hip Dysplasia

More common in dogs but it does occur in cats affecting the overall fit of the hip joints.

Symptoms of Arthritis-

  • Lameness in the hip or joints
  • Unwillingness to move
  • Lack of Grooming
  • Fever
  • Arched back when walking, cat appears to be walking on tippy-toes
  • Pain when being stroked or petted on back and legs
  • Weight loss
  • Sudden aggression
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Missing the litter pan
  • Naps or sleeps on the floor instead of high places

Treating arthritis in cats

Arthritis especially Osteoarthritis cannot be cured but it can be treated.

Conventional Meds

You need your vet to work with so he/she can pinpoint what type of arthritis your cat has developed a treatment program and answer your questions. So, consult with your veterinarian before starting ANY type of treatment for your cat. The vet will evaluate, x-ray and examine your cat and provide you with the proper medications to help manage the pain. In extreme cases, corticosteroids are prescribed along with pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs. Anti-fungal drugs are used in cases of Spondylitis.

Natural Remedies or Supplements

It is always a wise choice to consult with a vet before starting Holistic measures to provide relief from pain and ease symptoms. Some of the vitamins recommended to help with arthritis contain toxic levels if over-used i.e. vitamin C,D,E & A. Certain herbs will work on dogs but are toxic to cats so be careful and don’t just “go by the book.”  Treatments; hydrotherapy, acupuncture, physical therapy and even exercise programs need to be done correctly so talk to your vet.

Providing heated cat beds, changing the levels of cat condos in your homes, providing ways for your cat to get to the litter pan easier by buying pans with lower sides will help out your arthritic cat. Towel slings can be used to allow kitty an easier time at the litter pan.

NEVER give your cat any medication that you take for pain or relief or any that are manufactured specifically for dogs. This holds true especially with TYLENOL and other NSAIDS. Remember, cats are adept at hiding pain. They don’t want to reveal they are in trouble. Many times x-rays reveal the cat has severe arthritis and the owner didn’t have a clue. If Dexter is hiding from you under the bed, there is a reason. Keep a chart of your cat’s normal activity if you suspect something is wrong. Dexter can’t go to the medicine cabinet and take a pill. He depends on you to be aware and informed.

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