Arthritis is a degeneration of the skeletal joints. Between each bone is a substance called cartilage, this substance lubricates and acts as a ‘pillow’ between the bones. When this cartilage erodes from the ends of the bones boney spurs and bone thickening can occur. This will cause pain, swelling, inflammation and stiffness in the joints.
As with people their are two types of arthritis seen in cats. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition of the cartilage covering the ends of the bones. This type of arthritis occurs with age and usage of the joints. Osteoarthritis is generally seen in older cats but can be seen in young to middle aged cats if the animal has had significant disease or some type of trauma to the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition in which the body attacks the cats own joints and tissues and results in arthritis. Although rare, this condition can be seen of cats of any age.
Symptoms to look for:
- reluctance to walk
- reduced motion
- limping or favoring one side of the body
- loss of appetite
- obvious pain and discomfort
Treatment will depend on whether your cat has osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Your cat may be prescribed steroids, anti-inflammatory medications, or antibiotic drugs. However, never NEVER give your cats aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen. These drugs, although commonly used for arthritis in humans, are lethal to cats. Always consult your vet before giving any medication to your cat, especially medications which were not prescribed by your vet for your pet.
Try to keep your cat healthy and active. As in humans, being overweight is a stress to the joints and bones. Try to exercise your cat and feed him/her a proper diet.