Signs, Symptoms & Diagnosis of Arthritis


Kritika Manchanda
Although arthritis in cats is not as common as arthritis in dogs, but knowing the signs and symptoms is always a beneficial preventive measure.
Cats have a natural tendency to disguise pain and discomfort. Thus, many times the signs, especially early signs of arthritis in cats tend to get overlooked. As a pet parent it is essential that you know the signs and symptoms, and keep a watchful eye. Arthritis, a degenerative joint disease, causes inflammation and pain in the joints. If not diagnosed at the right time, it can be worsen and may lead to severe pain and restricted movement. Joint degeneration is a natural process when cats become old. The cartilage forms a cushion which provides support between joints. But with age, this cartilage wears off and as a result the joints become less flexible.Arthritis can also be caused due to an injury or dislocation. Excess weight also puts pressure on joints, and can be one major cause of arthritis in cats.
Here are the signs to look out for
Limping: Your pet may be limping or preferring one particular leg, depending on which leg is the most affected by pain.
Difficulty in movement: When his favourite toy doesn’t excite him, or your cat takes a rather long time in getting up, it can be a sign of arthritis. Cats with arthritis become reluctant in moving around and have difficulty in running around. Hoping on to the bed or into the car become a painful task. Climbing stairs also become a major problem.
Lethargy: Walks become slower, play sessions recede and your pet is generally tired and lethargic, these can be indications towards arthritis. Lazing around and spending all the time sleeping because of being in pain are two separate things.
Irritability: It is normal for cats to become irritated and agitated when in pain. They might snap, growl or bite if petting increases the pain.
Abnormal posture: Since arthritis affects all the joints in the body, there are chances that you may notice changes in your pet’s posture. It can also lead to sore neck, lameness and even a hunch.
Diagnosis of arthritis
By conducting various physical tests, the vet would be able to diagnose arthritis. Once the diagnosis is done, medicines can be used to control inflammation and ease the pain.Your vet would know the best treatment method which would mainly depend upon severity of arthritis and your pet’s overall health. Lifestyle changes would be recommended like – weight loss, light exercise, minimum exertion etc. These should be followed strictly.
How to ease the pain?
Cosy place to rest: Give your cat a cosy bed and comfortable bedding and blanket.
Making things easier for him: Make sure that the cat has easy access to food, water and litter box.
Keep weight in check: Obesity has an adverse effect on arthritis. If your cat is obese, then weight reduction is very important. The combination of diet management and appropriate exercise would be beneficial. Your vet would suggest appropriate exercises.
Health supplements: Talk to your vet about giving health supplements, especially omega 3 fatty acids.
Massage to reduce pain: Gentle massages can help a lot. Talk to your vet about it.
Medical aid: Physiotherapy can be used to ease off the pain.
Alternative therapies: Various therapies like hydrotherapy and acupuncture are now being used as alternative treatment methods of arthritis.
Love them: Cats with arthritis may become irritated and moody. It is important that you spend quality time with them and have snuggle-up session. With the right treatment and medications, pain would ease off and your pet would be fine. Don’t forget to shower them with your love and affection. Of course, a little extra for your beloved fighting arthritis would be more than a welcome treat.