Does My Cat Have Arthritis? 13 Signs and Symptoms

Osteoarthritis is another name for arthritis in cats. It is a degenerative joint ailment that typically corresponds with aging and affects up to 90% of cats older than 12 years. A layer of tissue called cartilage fills the spaces between the bones in healthy joints, allowing the bones to glide easily over one another. Cats with arthritis have worn down cartilage, causing the bones to rub against one another.

They even splinter, creating jagged projections in extreme circumstances. In reality, arthritis can develop in any joint, including the hips, knees, elbows, and spine. The afflicted joint becomes painful, swollen, and inflamed as the condition worsens. In order to diagnose your cat with arthritis and provide the right veterinarian care, it’s critical that you are able to identify its symptoms.

1. Limpingzulty Jumping

A common activity for cats is to perch at elevated areas. It gives them a sense of security and allows them to get a clear picture of the action below. Joint problems may be the cause of your cat’s decreased desire to climb or their apparent difficulties jumping from high spots in your house. Your cat may start to choose vantage spots that are not as high as before, or you may notice them pausing before they jump up or down. According to studies, two thirds of cats with arthritis now only leap shorter distances than they used to, and three quarters don’t want to jump at all.

3. Changes in Gait and Posture

The word “gait” refers to a person’s walking style. Even if your cat is not truly limping, have you noticed that they are walking strangely? This, along with a shift in sitting posture, may be signs that your cat is experiencing pain when attempting to move their joints. The elbows and hips are the most frequent joints in cats to develop osteoarthritis, which can alter how your cat moves.

4. Changes in Shape

Some cats who have spinal arthritis assume a bent over position. The vertebrae in the spine are rearranged due to arthritis, giving the spine its curving curvature. In cats, arthritis frequently affects the sternum and the backbone. When your cat is sitting or strolling, you could notice that they are stooped over.

5. Lethargy and Changes in Mood

Cats that are in pain may respond differently. It’s possible that you’ll notice your cat spending less time playing and more time napping and resting. They could rather stay hidden and stay away from you. Some people are irritated and don’t like to be touched; if you try to pet them, they could even growl at you or even try to bite you. Some cats that have arthritis meow and growl more than usual.

6. Reluctance to Go Outdoors

Your cat may become less interested about going outside if they have aching joints. Cats suffering from arthritis find it challenging to explore, hunt, and play in the outdoor world. As a result, you could notice that your cat is far more inclined to stay inside than before.

7. Lack of Grooming and Matted Fur

Generally speaking, cats are excellent at maintaining their coats. Arthritis may be the cause if you’ve observed that your cat’s coat is starting to look less groomed. Usually, the back, belly, and base of your cat’s tail will all have matted fur. This is due to the fact that grooming these areas calls for flexibility. Your cat cannot brush certain areas of their body if they are unable to rotate their neck. They need to be somewhat flexible even when cleaning their faces.

8. Overgrown Claws

Cats scratch most of the time to keep their claws short. They may utilize scratching posts or furniture indoors, and they may scratch the bark of trees outside. This may hurt cats with arthritis, so they won’t do it. Their nails will soon grow out of control, and you might have to give them a trim yourself.

9. Swollen Joints

Certain indications are connected to the joints themselves. You might feel that they are swollen and thickened around their joints. But, it is best to avoid palpating them yourself as this may be very painful for your cat. It is best left to a licensed veterinarian. Additionally, when they move, arthritic joints may click. We refer to this as crepitus.

10. Loss of Fur Around Joints

A cat’s natural response to pain is to lick the area in an attempt to relieve the discomfort. Consequently, a cat experiencing joint pain might overgroom that area of their body. Alopecia, or hair loss around the joints, may be noticeable, and excessive licking may cause the skin to appear painful. It’s possible that the fur near the joints is also discolored.

11. Litter Tray Avoidance

Climbing into and out of the litter tray might be difficult for cats with arthritic joints. Suddenly, cats who have never had any issues using the litter tray may begin urinating and defecating in other parts of the house. Every cat occasionally has an accident, but if this occurs frequently, it needs to be looked into. Though they might have difficulty, other cats might still attempt to use the litter tray.

12. Weight Loss

A veterinarian should be consulted if a cat experiences any weight loss. They are able to rule out more serious medical issues and perform the required tests to determine the cause. Arthritis can lead to weight loss and appetite loss. Cats are generally more nimble and smaller than dogs, so they may tolerate joint and bone issues easier. They may use weight loss as a means of expressing that something is wrong, even though they also conceal their suffering.

13. Weight Gain

In cats, weight increase may also indicate arthritis. It is understandable that your cat is gaining weight if they are eating the same amount but are not as active as they were before. Unfortunately, cats’ arthritis is exacerbated by being overweight as well. It increases the amount of strain on the joints and exacerbates their inflammation and pain. Certain cats suffering from arthritis may require a specific diet in order to manage their weight.

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Overview of the 13 Signs and Symptoms of Arthritis in Cats

Sign or Symptom of Arthritis in Cats
Limping and stiffness
Difficulty jumping
Changes in gait and posture
Changes in shape
Lethargy and changes in mood
Reluctance to go outdoors
Lack of grooming and matted fur
Overgrown claws
Swollen joints
Loss of fur around joints
Litter tray avoidance
Weight loss
Weight gain