Arthritis is relatively common in older cats although they do not often show the lameness signs we associate with dogs suffering from arthritis. This is because cats are relatively small and agile and they can hide and cover up mobility difficulties caused by arthritis.
Instead, affected cats are more likely to show subtle changes in lifestyle and behaviour. It is thought 20% of the UK cat population shows signs associated with arthritis. Because you know your cat best you are well placed to keep an eye out for the signs of this painful condition.
Freedom from pain can make a huge difference and this can be done using many different methods including anti inflammatories (pain relief), joint supplements, weight loss, laser therapy (available at Cinque Ports Vets), acupuncture, hydrotherapy and physiotherapy.
Comfy beds are also important. Older cats tend to prefer to stretch out and may need an extra ‘step’ to help jump onto chairs or beds. They also prefer their beds to be in a quiet area away from the hustle and bustle of the house.
Litter trays should always be provided in the house, but an older cat may need extra trays as some control of bladder and bowel movements may be lost with age. Reduced mobility may result in a reluctance to walk too far to go to the toilet. The trays should always be large and shallow for easy access. Some have a dip at the front so cats can just walk in and out of them. Soft litter also tends to be better for older cats than wood pellets as it can be uncomfortable for cats to stand on.
Here are four simple questions that have been designed to help you recognise subtle changes in your cat’s behaviour that could indicate painful arthritis. Cats do not vocalise when they are in pain and it is these subtle changes which help indicate a problem.
Have you noticed your cat hesitating or being more reluctant to jump up or down? eg. Onto your lap/the furniture/through a cat flap? Yes No
Have you noticed your cat slowing down? eg. Sleeping more, especially in one place, stiffening up or getting a bit creaky Yes No
Have you noticed a deterioration in your cat’s appearance?
eg. Matted or scruffy coat Yes No
Have you noticed any change in your cat’s attitude or daily routine?
eg Less tolerant around people or more withdrawn Yes No
If you answered ‘yes’ to one or more of the questions please contact your local branch of Cinque Ports Vets so we can arrange an assessment of your pet for you.