By Dr. Elizabeth Knabe, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
As cats age, they can develop arthritis just like in dogs and people. It is estimated that 60 percent of cats six years and older have arthritis in at least one joint. Additionally, over 90 percent of cats twelve years and older have severe enough arthritis that it can be seen on radiographs (x-rays).
The problem is that, due to the nature of cats, they often do not exhibit signs of pain or lameness. Instead, changes in their behavior can alert us to the presence or arthritis.
Cats with arthritis may show decreases in appetite or grooming. They often sleep more and stop jumping onto favorite perches. They may still jump up fine, but when they jump down they hesitate on landing.
Other signs can include weight loss, changes in personality, or urinating and defecating outside of the litter box. There may also be subtle signs of lameness and a stiffer gait. Your veterinarian is the best resource to help you determine if your cat has arthritis.
Once a diagnosis has been made, your veterinarian can let you know what options are available to ease the symptoms of arthritis. Some cats benefit from glucosamine supplements or diets very high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Analgesics are used, but the type and duration must be tailored to each cat.
Changes at home, such as pet stairs and heated places to sleep, can help. You may also want to look into complementary treatments such as laser therapy and acupuncture. Hopefully, there will be tools or a combination of tools to help your feline friend.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.