Arthritis, a disease most commonly attributed to humbans is no longer a condition common to humans alone; it is one of the most common conditions seen in middle age cats. Also called osteoarthritis, arthritis is a disease which causes the degeneration of joints; it is also responsible for the pain and inflammation in cat's joint. Although the primary causes of arthritis in cats include injury and infection to joints, this condition can also be inherited as seen in the case of hip dysplasia.
Hip dysplasia in Cats
Hip dysplasia is a kind of malformation of the hip joint that is inherited at birth; it occurs when there is a defect in the formation of the ball and socket of the hip joint thereby leading to bone degeneration and arthritis. Most of the symptoms of hip dysplasia are the same as those of arthritis, as highlighted below, except that the symptoms can be seen in much younger cats.
If you suspect your cat is having some form of hip dysplasia, observe to see if they have any of the following signs: difficulty standing, trying to stand with most of the weight being put on one leg, crying or resisting when the hip area is touched, licking and chewing the affected area. If you notice any of these symptoms, especially in a young cat, then get them checked by a vet.
Causes of Arthritis in Cats
One major factor that can expose your cats to arthritis is being overweight.
A 2018 study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention showed that a shocking 59.5% of cats are classified as obese in the USA. This extra fat starts to affect bodily functions including causing damage to specific organs—such as the liver, or arteries. The weight also puts pressure on your cat's internal system and joints, leading to a series of health risks.
As your cats age, their cartilages naturally deteriorate and lose flexibility which often leads to Arthritis, but the additional weight just makes the problem even worse. Most joints in cats contain cartilages which serve to cushion and reduce friction when bones of the joint slide past one another. But with age, the destruction to the cartilages causes and the wearing away of the bone, causes a reduction of the cushioning which then leads to more wearing away, eventually causing inflammation and pain associated with arthritis.
Signs of arthritis in cats
Some of the signs of arthritis in cats include the following
Cats love to jump and climb. If you notice your cat being reluctant to move around, e.g. ceasing to jump onto countertops and other high places as they loved doing, this is an indicator that points to arthritis.
If your cat suddenly begins to limp, then arthritis may be the course. Most time this is more noticeable when your cat first arises from sleep and become less obvious as they move around.
Abnormal posture and spinal issues:
Arthritis is not limited to the legs alone but can also affect the spine. This leads to abnormal posture, lameness on either of their hind legs or soreness in the neck.
Aggressiveness and irritability:
Because trying to handle your cat increases their pain, they may show some aggressive behaviour (snapping or biting) when tried to be touched or handled.
Muscular dystrophy is normally seen in cats with arthritis. This is due to their inactivity and reduced use of their muscles. Cats with atrophied muscles would possess legs that are thinner than that of normal cats.
Due to the pains arising from the joints of your pet, it may not have the motivation to play hence may spend more time resting or sleeping.
Licking and chewing:
Most often than not, cats that are in pain form the habit of chewing and biting and chewing parts that are painful. Most of the times, these skin sites becomes inflamed with visible hair loss over the area.
Other signs that may indicate your cats are suffering from arthritis include:
Restlessness and aggression even to friendly surroundings
Failing to use their litter box
Excessive meowing and making unusual sounds
Loss of interest in activities and peoples
Decrease appetite and weight gain
Failing to groom themselves
Arthritis is a painful condition that can make the life of your pet quite miserable.
Prevention is key
If you suspect that your cat has hip dysplasia or arthritis, it is always good to have them checked over. A veterinary doctor will further diagnose and administer the recommended treatment on your cat, depending on how advanced the disease is, non-surgical or surgical treatments might be recommended.
As with any illness, prevention is always the best route; so what can you do? One thing you can do to prevent joint stress if by keeping your kitty at a healthy weight. You can do this by feeding them a healthy diet and ensuring that your cat gets the right amount of exercise (yes, even cats should be active).
If your cat is showing some signs of joint pain, there are alternative and natural treatments such as massages, accupuncture, and herbal medicines including our WALK-EASY joint and hip remedy, that can reduce inflammation and joint pain helping your kitty to be more mobile and active.
Whatever course of action you decide to take, watch for the signs and seek help early on. Remember, prevention is better than a cure.