Cat Arthritis: Symptoms and Treatment Options
Cats love to move their bodies. From prowling, leaping, and stretching, to just wiggling their hips like tiny Shakiras, physical abilities are key to kitty’s quality of life.
But when cats suffer from arthritis, they can lose their trademark spryness. Even routine movements are painful. Joint pain makes it hard to jump, climb stairs, and feel comfortable.
A stiff cat is a grumpy cat—and that’s no fun for anyone.
Watching your pet cope with pain is heartbreaking. If the source of their pain is arthritis, there’s no cure — but there are treatments.
”This stuff is magic. My old 18.5-year-old cat walks around like a younger fellow now and is much happier.”
— Beverly C., ★★★★★ Verified Liquid Glucosamine for Cats Review
In this guide, we’ll answer the following questions:
- What is cat arthritis?
- What are the symptoms of arthritis in cats?
- What are the treatment options for cat arthritis?
What Is Cat Arthritis?
Arthritis is the medical name for inflammation, stiffness, and pain in one or more joints. The term is broadly applied to any disorder that causes joint pain. There are more than 100 types of arthritis for humans, with the most common being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
How common and impactful is joint pain? Arthritis is the number one cause of disability among adults in the US, limiting daily life activities for 24 million Americans.
Arthritis is a major problem for our pets, too. It’s more widely recognized as a canine issue, since arthritic dogs develop obvious lameness (AKA an abnormal gait or limp).
In cats, arthritis may be just as painful — but harder to detect. Cats are generally a bit more private, plus they’ll work harder to conceal an injury. Cats may simply decrease their activity level rather than let anyone see them limping.
When we talk about arthritis in cats, we’re generally referring to osteoarthritis (OA). The word’s Greek roots sum up the two components of OA: osteo, meaning bone, and itis, meaning inflammation.
The degenerative aspect of OA involves the cartilage that cushions joints. In arthritic joints, this cartilage wears away. As a result, the joint becomes inflamed and painful.
Past the age of 10, around 90 percent of cats will experience OA in at least one joint.
Arthritis as a Primary or Secondary Condition
Arthritis can occur as a primary condition, with no obvious underlying cause. In such cases, arthritis may arise from normal daily life wear and tear. Or, arthritis may occur secondary to an injury or other health issue.
A variety of factors influence the likelihood that a cat will suffer from OA, including:
- Diet history
- Surgery history
- Abnormal joint configuration
- Physical condition and obesity
- Body type
Genetics also plays a role. In some cat breeds, abnormal hip and cartilage development is common, resulting in an increased likelihood of arthritis. Breeds susceptible to hip issues and OA include Persian, Siamese, Scottish Fold, and Maine Coons. (Just another reason why it’s better to adopt from a shelter instead of buying a pet from a breeder!)
What Are the Symptoms of Arthritis in Cats?
Cats are notorious for hiding their pain. Revealing an injury in the wild would be a dangerous sign of weakness, leaving them vulnerable to rivals or predators.
Despite Whiskers’ best efforts, arthritis is still a tough ailment to keep secret. Compared to spry, youthful joints, stiff ones don’t allow for the same springiness and agility.
These symptoms can indicate cat arthritis:
- Reluctance to jump
- Appearing to struggle when walking up and down stairs
- Reduced overall activity levels
- Reduced grooming activities, or over-grooming of joints that are in pain
- Increased irritability when picked up or petted
- Difficulty getting in and out of litter box
Your cat might push through their pain to keep up with daily life. However, if their movements appear labored or uncomfortable, your pal may be struggling with arthritic joint pain.
If you ask your veterinarian to examine your pet for arthritis, here’s what they’ll check for:
- Unstable joints
- Fluid buildup in joints
- Grating sounds during joint movement
- Range of motion limitations
- Visible signs of pain
- Deformed joints
Your veterinarian may take X-rays to confirm an arthritis diagnosis. However, the condition is often easily diagnosed based on symptoms.
Now for the more optimistic part…
What Are the Treatments for Cat Arthritis?
If your cat is diagnosed with OA, there are two primary methods for providing relief: lifestyle adjustments and medicine or supplements.
Lifestyle Adjustments for Cat Arthritis
Your veterinarian will recommend some lifestyle changes to reduce the effects of arthritis.
If your cat is overweight, helping them shed a pound or two will ease the pressure on their joints. While obesity isn’t believed to cause cat arthritis, it does make it harder to cope with the condition.
If your cat is obese, your veterinarian will recommend nutritional adjustments for weight loss. Slimming down can help your pet to regain some lost mobility. Always work with your vet to make sure your cat doesn’t lose weight too quickly, since this can cause other problems.
The other set of lifestyle tweaks involve making your home a more comfortable setting for living with pain. Provide your cat with plenty of places to explore and get cozy without needing to jump or climb.
Here are a few ways to provide an arthritis-friendly home for your feline friend:
- Offer a soft and cozy bed that’s easy to get in and out of
- Set up ramps for accessing elevated surfaces such as window sills or couches
- Provide an easy-access, low-step litter box
- Use pain-free hair brushes for grooming
Once you recognize that arthritis is affecting your cat’s daily life, adjustments to the home environment can provide a major quality of life boost.
Does Glucosamine Help Cats With Arthritis?
To directly target your cat’s arthritic joint pain, there’s glucosamine.
Glucosamine is a compound found naturally in cartilage. As cats age or experience joint damage, their natural production of glucosamine may slow down. As a result, joints become arthritic and painful.
Glucosamine has a long history of use for humans with joint pain — and now it’s available for our pets, too.
Liquid Glucosamine for Cats from Paramount Pet Health is made from all-natural, human-grade ingredients. Because it’s a liquid formula, absorption of the helpful ingredients is superior to pill or chewable forms. (Plus, the flavor is tasty, so most kitties lap it up.)
Providing a daily glucosamine treatment is easy. Just follow this dosing guide:
|Paramount Pet Health Glucosamine for Cats: Liquid Recommended Dosage|
|Cats under 10 lbs.||1 ml|
|Cats over 10 lbs.||2 ml|
During the first week of use, you can give your cat a “loading dose” of twice the recommended amounts.
Results are cumulative, so be consistent with your dosing for at least two weeks. That said, you might notice significant pain and lifestyle improvements in your cat within just a few days. Read more about cats and glucosamine in this article, Is Glucosamine Safe for Cats?.
Providing Your Pet With the Best Possible Quality of Life
Joint pain is one of the most common ailments your pet is likely to suffer from. Fortunately, glucosamine can help restore your friend’s mobile and active lifestyle. If you're looking for the best glucosamine for cats, take a look at Leslie's review.
”My nearly 13-year-old cat responded so quickly to this product… He looks more comfortable, has more energy and even seems to be in a better mood.”
— Leslie S., ★★★★★ Verified Liquid Glucosamine for Cats Review
We know how it feels to watch your pet struggle with pain and loss of independence. That’s why our focus is on all-natural supplements that bring noticeable improvements to your pet’s quality of life.
Plus, we know that a product is useless if it makes cats and dogs turn up their noses — which is why all Paramount Pet Health supplements are delicious, easy-to-dose liquids.
For more popular cat articles, take a peek at these:
- Is Glucosamine Safe for Cats?
- What Can I Give My Cat for Pain? — 8 Signs of Pain in Cats
- The Many Important Benefits of Taurine for Cats
- How to Ease Joint Pain in Cats With Natural Remedies
- How to Care For Your Aging Cat: Senior Cat Care
- Can I Give Glucosamine to My Cat?
- Solensia for Cats — The New Pet Arthritis Injection
- Practical Ways to Support Your Arthritic Kitty