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Feline Arthritis

Has your cat lost a step when it jumps? Does your cat seem unapproachable at times? It’s a strong possibility that your cat has osteoarthritis. Feline arthritis can be hard to detect but with these subtle hints, you may be able to find the cause of your cat’s discomfort. Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD), has become more common among senior cats, typically 10 or more years of age. DJD symptoms include any degenerative change in a synovial, cartilaginous, or fibrous articulation in the skeleton.

  • Decreased grooming
  • Reluctance to jump
  • Inability to jump to usual height
  • Urination outside of litter box
  • Increase/decrease of sleep
  • Avoiding human interaction/hiding
  • Reluctant to being stroked/brushed
  • Unlike dogs, lameness is not common for cats with DJD. Since cats are smaller in size and have innate agility, they often cope with severe orthopedic disease. Decreased grooming, a reluctance to jump up on favorite places, the inability to jump as high as before, and the soiling outside the litter box are signs that you should alert your veterinarian to find the sources of possible chronic pain.
    Other signs include changed sleeping habits, withdraw from human interaction, hiding, and dislike of being stroked or brushed. It is also common for owners and veterinarians to not realize the extent of pain until there are noticeable improvements following treatments. Sometimes analgesic trials are the only way to confirm that pain existed.
    Lifestyle: Weight loss and exercise have been recommended in alleviating osteoarthritis. Overweight cats should be placed on weight-loss programs. The creative use of toys and owner participation can help with exercise. Environmental changes can help like placing food bowls and litter boxes in places that don’t require leaping or jumping. Cats are accustomed to leaping onto favorite places, constructing ramps or steps can make the transition easier.
    Rehabilitation: Underwater treadmills, passive range of motion and creative exercise techniques are just some of the rehabilitation options. Other alternative treatments such as acupuncture has also had successful results.
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