Does My Cat Have Arthritis? 5 Tips On How To Spot It!

September 29, 2022
Amber LaRock - LVT & Vetted Vet Pro

If you are the proud parent of an adorable cat, you may be surprised to learn that cats can suffer from arthritis just as often as dogs can. Many people have been told that arthritis is just a disease for the large canine friends in our home, and this is simply not the case! Up to 90% of cats will develop arthritis in at least one joint by the time they reach 10 years of age, so this is a disease that every cat parent should be on the lookout for.

Our team at Vetted wants you to be as informed as possible when it comes to your cat’s overall comfort, and spotting the first signs of arthritis can help you do just that. Let’s dive into the most common signs of feline arthritis to be on the lookout for, as well as the most effective ways to relieve their discomfort moving forward!

If you have any concerns about your cat’s discomfort that we do not mention today, you can always reach out to our Vetted Vet Pros on the Vetted app! A Vetted membership offers you access to our 24/7 pet health chat, so you can turn to Vet Pro for guidance at any time!

Does My Cat Have Arthritis? 5 Signs To Lookout For!

Now that you are aware of just how common arthritis is in cats, let’s list five common symptoms to be on the lookout for in your little one!

  1. Stiff Movement

If your cat has developed arthritis in their late adult years, you may notice stiff movement from time to time. This could be a change in their normal gait, appearing stiff when getting into a seated position, and even decreased flexibility when they are trying to scratch an itch. 

  1. Stiffness Directly After Resting

Cats with arthritis will often be the most stiff when they wake up from a resting period. You may notice that they have rigid movement in the minutes after they first rise, and their stiffness may improve as they begin to stretch and move around. This stiffness can occur after a short nap or a long list of restful sleep. 

  1. Reluctance To Jump 

If it seems like your once active adult cat no longer spends time in their favorite cat tree, it could be because they are having difficulty with reaching elevated surfaces. We urge you to keep a close eye out for other signs of arthritis, as they might be avoiding jumping due to their chronic pain. 

  1. Reduction In Grooming

Since cats with arthritis often experience stiffness and pain as their condition progresses, this can make it more challenging to groom themselves. Their decreased range of motion can make it difficult to get into a proper grooming position, so you will often notice that they are not grooming their hind end like they used to. 

  1. Difficulty Using The Litter Box

If your little one is really struggling with joint stiffness and pain, you may notice them having a hard time getting in and out of the litter box. Even something as simple as lifting their leg can be challenging for a cat with arthritis, and they may even start to have accidents around their box because of it. 

How Do I Help My Cat With Arthritis?

Thankfully for our treasured cat companions, there are a list of ways to manage their arthritis and relive their discomfort. Our team at Vetted wants you to have all the tools needed to improve your cat’s quality of life, so let’s break down the best ways to help your arthritic cat below. 

Help Them Maintain A Healthy Weight

Excess weight can put a significant amount of stress on a cat’s joints. If your cat is already struggling with arthritis and joint pain, additional weight gain will only make their life that much more difficult. By helping your cat maintain a healthy weight, you can prevent further stress on their already compromised joints. 

Offer Them Joint Supplements

Joint supplements are a wonderful way to alleviate discomfort in your cat with arthritis. Joint supplements for cats can strengthen joint cartilage, prevent further joint damage, and even relieve painful inflammation within the joints. If you need guidance in choosing a suitable joint supplement for your cat, you can either reach out to your vet for help, or you can message our Vetted Vet Pros on the Vetted app!

Make Sure Your Home Fits Their Needs

Arthritis will impact our cat’s life, so we will likely need to make changes in our home to better suit their needs. This could mean making sure their food and water is in an easily accessible spot, creating more cozy spaces that are lower to the ground, offering them padded bedding, and even giving them a ramp or stool to access furniture. 

Reach Out To Your Veterinary Team For Guidance

If your cat is showing signs of significant joint pain (severe stiffness, inability to groom, muscle loss, limb sensitivity), it may also be time to reach out to your veterinary team for guidance on how to best help them. Some cats will need prescription medication and physical therapy to help them feel their best, so it’s always a good idea to have your vet involved in the process. 

Final Thoughts

Arthritis is a common health complication in senior cats, so it’s important for cat parents to be well aware of the signs of feline joint pain. Our Vetted team wants you to have the tools needed to offer your cat the most comfortable future possible, and being well informed about feline arthritis will help you do just that. We encourage you to keep an eye out for the symptoms we discussed above, and even implement the changes around your home to make your cat more comfortable!