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in Health & Wellness // Conditions & Diseases


in Cats


Joints Article cat 1Cats are natural survivors and masters at hiding pain, which means discomfort and
illness often go unnoticed. If owners and veterinarians can’t see any issues, no
diagnosis can be made which means symptoms and pain caused by diseases go
untreated. Osteoarthritis (OA), also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD) is one
of the diseases that are easy to miss.

Once correctly diagnosed, medication can relieve joint pain caused by osteoarthritis.
Luckily, there is treatment available that brings pain relief.

Luckily, there is treatment available that brings pain relief.

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HOW COMMON IS OA?Joints Article cat 2

According to numerous studies, many of which analyse radiographs, an
alarming number of (especially older) cats suffer from degenerative joint
disease in one form or the other. The studies have helped us realise that
DJD is very common in cats and even more severe in older cats. Most
affected joints include shoulders, hips, elbows, knees and ankles.

Joints Article cat 3

Joints Article cat 4OA CAUSES

Joints are cushioned by cartilage, a rubbery connective tissue, found at the ends of
bones. When this cartilage starts to deteriorate it leads to inflammation and
discomfort and the damage continues.
Natural wear and tear, joint injury as well as certain abnormalities may contribute to
OA, but the specific causes are still unclear.
The Following May Increase Risk of OA
• Obesity
• Trauma / injury, e.g. fractures or dislocations
• Certain breeds are more prone to
   - Kneecap dislocation formally know as Patella luxation
   e.g. Abyssinian and Devon Rex breeds
   - Abnormal hip joint development, formally know as hip dysplasia
   (e.g. Maine Coon, Persian and Siamese breeds)
   - Abnormality of cartilage causing severe arthritis which affects multiple joints
   (the Scottish Fold breed particularly)
• Acromegaly (unusual and uncommon): increased growth hormone secretion,
   caused by a tumour, leads to diabetes and/or arthritis

SIGNS OF OAJoints Article cat 5
• Less mobile: jumping behaviour changes; stiffness in legs;
   struggles to use stairs, litter tray and cat flap
• Less activity: increased sleeptime; decreased exploring and interaction;
   choosing more accessible sleeping spots
• Grooming changes: less frequent; more time spent on affected joints;
   overgrown claws; a scruffy/matted coat
• Change in character/mood: more solitary; irritable when handled,
   stroked or interacting with other animals

Joints Article cat 6

Joints Article cat 7DIAGNOSING OA

• Mature cats (aged 7+) should be checked frequently and thoroughly and owners should
   communicate any changes and signs noticed to their vet
• A veterinarian should be able to detect issues during an examination.
   X-rays may be necessary, but usually trail treatment (anti-inflammatory drugs)
   is tried first
• Blood and urine tests could help reveal other problems


Change your cat’s environment to improve quality of life.

• Place comfy, warm beds in easily accessible areas where your cat will feel safe
• Provide basic steps or ramps to reach higher areas
• Make sure water and food are easy to access
• Groom your cat and cut overgrown claws
• Provide a litter tray with a low side
• Ensure the cat flap is easy to use

DIETJoints Article cat 8

• Manage your cat’s weight or seek help if your cat is overweight
• Ask your vet about supplements such as fatty acids and decent glucosamine
and chondroitin supplements to improve cartilage quality


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have been found very effective in treating
pain and inflammation caused by osteoarthritis in cats. Your vet will be able to administer
the medication after telling you more about how it works and possible side effects it may
have (some NSAIDs have minimal, if any, side effects). Sometimes NSAIDs can’t be
administered in which case cat-friendly painkillers may be prescribed.

Ask your vet which side effects to look out for and contact the clinic if you have any
questions or concerns about NSAIDs.

The right pain management medication can help. Find Out More

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