The signs of arthritis in cats are very similar to those seen in dogs with arthritis. These symptoms include stiffness when getting up from a sleep, stiffness or lameness when exercising, an inability to jump up onto furniture and irritability or aggression when being picked up if this handling causes pain. The one difference with cats is that they are much more likely to just stay still if movement causes pain. Dogs on the other hand still try and chase that ball. I can hear my cat now saying with just the right amount of disdain: “and who is the more intelligent species?” This is why the older cat seems to laze the days away sleeping and why owners of cats rarely, if ever, see the obvious signs of pain.
The life of an older cat in the middle of winter consists of lovely pastimes like lounging in the pool of morning sunlight reaching in through the window, spending the whole day stretched out on the bed, curling up on the couch by the log fire in the evening, and sleeping all night on the basket of clean laundry. It is easy to envy this life of luxury and I have been heard to exclaim myself that I would love to come back in my next life as a much loved cat. The truth behind this sedentary lifestyle is often one of chronic pain.
How does arthritis affect my older cat
Arthritis is a very common condition in senior pets particularly in dogs. But did you know that older cats are just as likely to suffer from the debilitating effects of arthritis? The agility of cats and their inclination as youngsters to climb trees, pounce on unsuspecting moving targets and race around the house like a mad thing, means that young joints are stressed and osteoarthritis sets in as cats age.
Strangely, one of the more obvious signs of chronic pain and arthritis in cats is loss of coat shine. If you see loss in coat lustre or dandruff this may be due to pain. Cats commonly suffer from vertebral spondylosis or spinal arthritis. This makes it painful to turn around and groom their coat. So they stop. And the naturally shedding dry skin flakes and old hair accumulate in their coat. This makes the coat lose condition and the fur clumps together.
So if you find your older cat sleeping the whole day away and their coat losing its shine, please bring your cat to see us. Old age does not need to be painful. There are many ways we can manage this condition. Prescription joint diets, weight managment, medications aimed to improve joint mobility and pain relief medication can all help.