Margaret C. Saiki, D.V.M.,
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Former Medical Director
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Feline Arthritis: How to tell your cat has arthritis

How to tell if your older cat has arthritis.

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Surprisingly and despite what one would expect, lameness (limping) and stiffness are not the most commons signs of arthritis in the cat. The most common findings an owner will notice are changes in behavior and lifestyle. Unlike in the dog where limping and stiffness is a reliable predictor of arthritis in the cat it is not. The changes in behavior and lifestyle seen are subtle and therefore detection of these problems relies more and more on the shoulders of cat owners. The most common problems include in the ability to jump and a decrease in the height of the jump.


Changes in Mobility

Changes in Activity

Changes in Grooming

Changes in Temperament


Behavioral changes include:       


·        Changes in Mobility: Ability to jump, Height of jump, gracefulness, Changes in elimination such as reluctance to use the lifer pan; missing the litter pan; reluctance to go outside.

·        Changes in Activity: sleeping, playing, hunting, change in posture for claw sharpening

·        Changes in Grooming: not grooming certain areas

·        Changes in Temperament: seclusion seeking, intolerance towards people, children and other animals, vocalization or aggression when handled.

The feline species is smaller and therefor lighter. They bare less weight on their limbs and therefore do not stress their joints (arthritis means inflammation of the joints) as much. This is the main reason that limping is not a major reliable problem. Knowing this as a pet owner is important, for it helps owner detect problems in their cats that maybe easily overlooked.

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