If your cat no longer jumps up like he or she once did there may be a good reason – osteoarthritis.
A chronic, degenerative joint disease that makes movement difficult and painful, osteoarthritis mainly strikes pets in their middle and senior years. However, younger cats can also be affected.
In fact, studies show that approximately 20% of dogs have the condition, and, whilst cats are less likely to show obvious signs of osteoarthritis, they also suffer from it in large numbers. In one study over a period of 12 years, 95% of cats showed x-ray evidence of joint degeneration, suggesting that the number of affected cats appears to be higher than commonly accepted.
It can be heartbreaking to see your once lively, active cat begin to limp, or notice obvious stiffness when moving around. Signs can often be more subtle and the owner only notices a scruffy coat. There is no cure for osteoarthritis. However, if it is treated promptly, there is a great deal that you and your veterinary surgeon can do to decrease your pet’s discomfort and increase his or her mobility.
If you notice any of the signs above, don’t just think that your cat is “slowing down with age”. Take him or her to see your vet! The sooner osteoarthritis is first diagnosed and treated, the better your catÕs quality of life will be.
There are many causes of Feline Osteoarthritis, but practically all can be grouped into two main categories:
Abnormal stress on normal joints
Normal stress on abnormal joints
Hip dysplasia: Normal stresses on a dysplastic (malformed) joint will lead to arthritis. Whatever the specific cause, stress on a joint can begin a destructive cycle of inflammation of the joint area and damage to the cartilage that leads to pain for your pet.
Osteoarthritis may progress very slowly (over several years) or very quickly (you might notice a major change in just a few weeks or months). It all depends on your catÕs age, his or her activity level, the joints involved, and the underlying cause.
Some cat’s pain and loss of mobility can be kept to a minimum for long periods of time with a simple regimen of weight control, moderate, regular exercise and the occasional use of anti-inflammatory drugs if flare-ups occur.
For others, severe damage to the joints may occur rapidly and require long-term medication and other therapy. In either case, your veterinary surgeon can determine the best course of treatment for your pet’s particular condition.
There is no reason why, with your loving attention and committed care, as well as your veterinary surgeon’s guidance, an osteoarthritic cat cannot have a happy, healthy and comfortable life for many years to come.
Further information on treating osteoarthritis can be found here