Older pets can suffer from a number of conditions, just like we do – and like us, one of the most common is osteoarthritis. Of course younger pets (and humans) can suffer from arthritis too, but this form is particularly associated with older pets.
What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis, also called degenerative joint disease, evolves due to continuous inflammation in our pet’s joints, which leads to progressive deterioration of the joint’s cartilage. The cartilage is the smooth material located between the bones that form the joint, which prevents them from grinding against each other when the animal moves.
The cartilage will degenerate as the animal ages and many other causes can also contribute to an abnormal wear of the normal cartilage, such as a traumatic injury, joint instability, abnormal conformation, abnormal activity or being overweight.
Some breeds of cat are also more susceptible.
What to Look Out For
One of the problems of diagnosing this condition in cats, compared to dogs, is that cats are very good at hiding pain. When the disease is well established, cats may well display obvious signs such as stiffness, lameness and swollen joints.
More subtle signs to watch out for include
- Being generally less active than before
- Difficulties grooming, or licking painful joints
- Vocalising more than usual
- Avoiding interaction
- Increased irritability
- Finding it harder to jump on / off furniture
- Urinating outside the litter box (as many cats feel pain when trying to access the litter tray).
Most cats over 12 years of age will show some degree of osteoarthritis.
Although osteoarthritis is not a curable disease, there are several options that can help your pet, by reducing the pain and discomfort caused by this condition – as well as slowing down its progression.
We usually recommend X-rays to help diagnose exactly how far the disease has progressed and to ensure there are no other issues affecting it as well and so we can recommend the best treatment.
Dietary supplements can help in managing the condition – and if a pet is overweight, losing some weight will help enormously.
So if you notice any of these signs do bring your pet in to see us – and of course it’s one of the things we’ll be assessing at your regular checkups, as your cat gets older.
Please do call us on 01435 864422 if you need advice, or would like to book an appointment.
Heathfield Vets – Quality Care With A Friendly Face