Old cats suffer from arthritis just as often as old people or dogs. Over 22% of all cats X-rayed have arthritic changes in one or more joints. Many people are surprised when we tell them that their cat is arthritic. However, if you know what to look for you will identify arthritic pain in your old cat without too much trouble.
Changes in jumping behaviour are readily noticed in most arthritic cats because it is most common in elbow and knee joints.
Cats with elbow arthritis are reluctant to jump down and seem to ‘pour’ themselves off the bed or cupboard. Because they lose agility they jump down with a thud and stand a while before moving off. My cat Cleo crouches with her sore elbow angled out from her body if she jumps off the washing machine and jars it.
Cats with arthritic knee joints are reluctant to jump as high as before. They may use chairs to get onto tables or abandon high resting places altogether. Painful knees may make them hesitate before jumping, scramble rather than jump or even miss the target. Some cats pull themselves up onto the couch or bed rather than spring up.
Toilet accidents may happen because of unwillingness to strain joints climbing in to the litter tray.
Cats that move stiffly have arthritic backs. Because it is difficult for them to groom their sides and backs their coats look rough or matt into tufts. Some of these old kitties get cranky when picked up or petted because of the pain in their backs. Many spend the day resting and avoiding play.
If you suspect your cat has arthritis mention it at the next checkup. Your observations are very important to making the diagnosis.
We have many tools for reducing arthritic pain and making our cats’ senior years comfortable and enjoyable.