Arthritis, sadly, is not just a human disease. Many other animals, including our beloved cats, can suffer from it at some point in their life. Although there is still no cure, there are a number of things that can be done so that they can more or less continue with their routine.
But since they usually show no signs of pain, it is often difficult to know what is happening to them. Therefore, we are going to tell you everything about arthritis in cats : its causes, its symptoms, its treatment and more.
What is it?
Feline arthritis, also called feline osteoatritis, is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by joint inflammation and the wear and tear of the layers that line your joints . In addition, it is degenerative, which means that over the years it only gets worse. Unlike osteoarthritis, it can affect felines of any age, while it is much more common in elderly animals.
What are the causes?
There are several causes that can favor the appearance of arthritis, such as:
- Genetic: they are due to the problems that it could have during the development in the womb of its mother, such as malformations of its legs.
- Immunological: when the immune system itself attacks the synovial membrane of the joints – the protective layer that covers them.
- Infectious: due to microorganisms such as bacteria or viruses that could have affected the joints.
- Post-traumatic: if cats have suffered injuries, blows or trauma, they can have arthritis.
- Obesity and being overweight: They are not a direct cause, but they can aggravate symptoms.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of arthritis in cats are as follows:
- Loss of mobility: they will spend more time in bed, resting.
- Pain and muscle atrophy: as the disease progresses, it causes a lot of pain that will prevent them from moving normally.
- Inflammation of the joints: it will be one of the first things we will see. Their legs will appear swollen.
- Changes in mood: they will feel more listless, more distant, with less desire to do anything.
- Cracks in the joints: healthy cats, when they walk, the bones of their paws do not make any noise (except when they run all over the house, of course 🙂), but if they have arthritis their joints will creak.
But, I insist, these animals will not show symptoms until the pain is unbearable, unless they trust us a lot, in which case we might notice that they meow more than normal as if they were trying to tell us something. For these reasons, it is very important to be very attentive and take them to the vet as soon as we suspect that they are not as well as they appear.
Which is the treatment?
Once at the veterinary clinic or hospital, they will do a physical exam, a blood test, a history of the injury or trauma if they have suffered any, and some X-rays. If the diagnosis is confirmed, they will proceed to administer non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to relieve pain and reduce inflammation of the joints. This treatment can be combined with supplements such as chondrotitine or glucosamine that will relieve symptoms. In very serious cases, you may choose to have surgery, but this is always the last option.
In addition to pharmacological treatment, from here we recommend natural remedies such as acupuncture and therapeutic massages . There are natural medicines, such as lecithin, natrium sulphate or calcium floride, but they should not be administered without the advice of a professional since otherwise the lives of cats could be put at risk.
How to take care of them?
If our cats have arthritis it is very important that the first thing we do is buy padded beds to relieve inflammation in the affected areas. They have to be in a room protected from drafts so that their symptoms do not get worse.
Also, it will be very necessary to remove all obstacles that may exist . For example, if we had the feeder raised, we will put it on the ground; If before they jumped to get on the sofa, now we will put a ramp, etc.
And, of course, you have to do everything possible to make cats happy , treating them with love and patience.
Can it be prevented?
Arthritis is a disease that, like the rest, cannot be 100% prevented. However, there are things we can do to avoid its appearance, which are the following:
- Give them a quality diet: surely you have heard and / or read more than once that of “we are what we eat”. Well, this also applies to cats. A diet rich in animal protein -remember that they are carnivores- and that is free of cereals -they cannot digest them- will keep them in shape, with a much stronger immune system than if they ate, for example, low-quality feed.
- Play a lot with them: every day we have to dedicate about three sessions of about 10 minutes each to playing with them. They need it, and not just their body… but their mind as well. Animals that live in families where they are not cared for properly end up with depression… and they could also have arthritis caused by a sedentary lifestyle.
- Take them to the vet whenever necessary: in addition to giving them the vaccines they need and neutering them before the first heat – at 5 or 6 months – you have to take them every time they have a health problem.
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