Arthritis in cats is severely under-diagnosed, and part of the reason for this is that cats are masters at hiding the signs of pain. In one published study, 60% of cats over the age of 12 years old had some form of degenerative joint disease. It is now common knowledge that Arthritis is very common in cats, and affects their hips, elbows, knees and ankles.
Signs of Arthritis in cats may include reduced mobility (e.g. doesn’t want to jump up on surfaces, reluctant to climb the stairs, difficulty using litter tray or cat flap) reduced activity (e.g. sleeping or relaxing more than usual, not interested in playtime, reduced hunting), altered grooming (e.g. matted fur around the back half of your cat and joints, reduced grooming activity, scurfy or dull coat, over grooming of painful areas, overgrown claws) and a change in temperament (e.g. grumpy when picked up or stroked, avoiding interaction, spending time alone). Again remember that these signs can be very difficult to see, and many owners do not notice the difference until there is an improvement after treatment.
Treatment varies from cat to cat and includes pain relief, anti-inflammatories, acupuncture and modifying the cat’s environment.
If your cat has already been diagnosed with arthritis and is receiving treatment, you may already be seeing the benefits or improvement after treatment has commenced. As with humans, the cold winter months can exacerbate the pain and symptoms associated with arthritis, so it is important to provide our arthritic cats with a little extra care and attention. Below are some important management steps to include when caring for your cat this winter:
- Multiple litter trays indoor: Due to the cold weather, or difficulty getting through the cat flap or an open window, your cat may need to go to the toilet inside, so should have multiple litter trays provided. Litter trays should have shallow sides, so that they are easy to climb into, and should be filled with a soft litter material (sometimes hard litters can be uncomfortable to stand on)
- Soft warm beds: Place soft and warm beds in easy to reach, accessible locations, so that your cat can curl up to keep warm. Ensure that they are not placed in drafty areas.
- Extra warmth: Sometimes a gently heated water bottle, or heat pad, can make your cat feel extra cozy – ensure these are safe for your cat, and are covered to avoid heat burns/scalds.
- TLC: Spend some extra time giving your cat a groom, and caring for their claws, as they may find this more difficult in the winter, if they are feeling a little extra stiff. Ensure to monitor them carefully for signs of extra pain or discomfort – Arthritis is an ongoing chronic condition that needs regular assessment from your Vet.
We offer a nurse-led arthritis clinic to help you provide the optimum care for your cat.
call us on 01223880707 to arrange an appointment