Arthritis in cats

As the winter chill sets it, so does the risk of arthritis in our feline friends. Commonly known as osteoarthritis (OA) or degenerative joint disease, arthritis causes pain and inflammation as a result of abnormal changes in joint condition. This causes bone cartilidge to degenerate, bringing pain and aches to muscles and bones.  

Arthritis can be particularly hard to detect in our feline friends, due to their low body weight and high level of agility, so its very important to be aware and watch for any signs of pain or discomfort. The condition is diagnosed through a physical exam that tests palpitation of the joints. Given that there is no cure for arthritis, it is important to adopt a preventative health care approach to ensure that your pet stays free from any aggressive or invasive treatments.  

Signs and symptoms of arthritis

  • Difficulty or hesitation when jumping on or off surfaces 
  • Difficulty climbing  
  • Reduced desire to play or interact  
  • Eliminating outside of litter tray 
  • Walking stiffly 
  • Limping  
  • Reduced grooming 
  • Stiff, swollen or sore joints 
  • Unexpected aggression towards other cats or humans

While there is no single cause of arthritis, many factors can contribute and influence the development of the condition including:  

  • Body conformation: this refers to your cats physical build or shape.  
  • Body condition or weight: cats that are overweight have an increased risk of developing arthritis  
  • Abnormal joint development 
  • Injury history: Previous injuries including fractures, ligament damage, muscle injury, joint infection, damage to existing cartilage can increase the likelihood of your cat developing arthritis  
  • Orthopedic surgery 

Luckily, improving mobility and joint health in your cat is a simple process. Early detection of potential symptoms of arthritis is important to managing the condition.


There are also many different treatment options available depending on the severity of the condition and the overall health of your cat.  These include:

  • Weight loss programs: if your cat is overweight, weight loss can help reduce stress placed on joints. 
  • Special diets to assist with joint health and maintenance. 
  • Injections: these treatments help maintain the health of the cartilage. 
  • Joint supplements: to provide strength to areas surrounding weaker joints.  
  • Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: speak to our vet team about this option, as it not suitable for all patients.  
  • Surgery 

There’s also a lot you can do if your cat is suffering due to arthritis. Grooming your cat, providing soft, comfortable and warm bedding are preventative measures that can help reduce pain and suffering as a result of arthritis.  

What should I do if I start to notice any of the above symptoms? 

If you are concerned that your pet may be showing any symptoms of arthritis, it is important to visit our clinic for a general health check for a clinical examination and for discussion on treatment options. Give our clinic a call to make an appointment!