Arthritis is a degenerative process caused by the progressive loss of joint cartilage, the development of irregular bone or spurs, and thickening of the capsule around the joint. Arthritis can be attributed to abnormal formation of the joint that causes it to wear out faster or abnormally compared to normally formed joints. This type of arthritis, known as primary arthritis, is commonly seen in older animals due to wear and tear of the joint(s). Damage to the joint resulting from some type of traumatic injury is known as secondary arthritis.
Arthritis can affect any breed, age or sex of cat. Factors that can increase the risk of developing arthritis include: hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia (Munchkin cats), obesity, poor nutrition during development, and trauma (e.g., hit by a car).
Joint conditions that lead to arthritis are as common in cats as in dogs, but may be harder to recognize. Cats in pain due to arthritis may hide more, become less active and lose muscle mass, decrease grooming, become more irritable, or grow excessively long nails from lack of using a scratching post. Many cats in pain will stop using their litter box if it is too high to enter comfortably or if it is hooded, making it difficult for the cat to position him/herself for elimination.
Arthritis may be diagnosed using x-rays. In some cases, a cat’s response to pain medication may be used on a trial basis to determine whether arthritis pain is less noticeable after starting treatment. This is beneficial if the lameness is subtle and a specific limb or joint cannot be identified in the affected individual. Unfortunately, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) available for cats are more limited compared to dogs. Joint supplements that help improve the quality of the cartilage (chondroprotective agents - glucosamine supplements) are used in cats. Omega-3 fatty acids will, after about two months of daily use, reduce the inflammatory response to the joints and surrounding tissues.
There are several diets available for joint health, including Hill’s Prescription J/D (Joint Care). Weight plays a key role in controlling arthritis pain. Thus, if your cat is overweight or obese, the best thing you can do to decrease their arthritis pain is to reduce their weight. Diets like Hill’s Metabolic plus Joint Care are beneficial in cats with joint pain that also need to reduce body fat.
These prescription foods and supplements are available for purchase at Town and Country Animal Hospital in Naples, but if you reside in Estero or Marco Island, for example, and are unable to make the trip, they can be ordered and delivered through our website at www.mynaplesvet.com or our online pharmacy at https://mynaplesvet.vetsfirstchoice.com. At Town & Country Animal Hospital, we offer a variety of options to detect and manage cat arthritis, as well as care and treatment for many other diseases and issues, including cat obesity and dog arthritis.