Prepare for unexpected vet bills

What are Arthritis?

According to a study published by the Journal of American Vet Medical Association, in 2002, upwards of 90 percent of felines over the age of 12 showed signs of joint degenerative disease and arthritis. However, as researchers have pointed out in articles published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, it can be difficult for veterinary professionals and cat owners alike to identify the symptoms of feline arthritis because cats are adept at masking their symptoms as part of their survival instincts.

Feline osteoarthritis is estimated to affect as many as one in three cats. This degenerative disease affects the joints, causing inflammation, pain as the cartilage inside the joint wears away, leaving the feline with a reduced quality of life.

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Arthritis Average Cost

From 378 quotes ranging from $150 - $1,000

Average Cost

$500

Symptoms of Arthritis in Cats

Since felines are masters of hiding their pain, it is not common for them to exhibit obvious signs of arthritis such as limping. Instead, they minimize their daily activity in response to sore joints. Symptoms to look for include:

  • A Reduction in Mobility: You may notice that your cat is reluctant to jump up and down on furniture, or they may jump or move slower than they did before. You may also notice difficulty traveling up and down stairs, difficulty using the litter box, difficulty coming in through a cat door, and increased stiffness in their legs, especially when they have been in a static position for a while.
  • A Reduction in Activity: You may notice that your cat is not hunting, exploring, or playing like it did before. It may spend an increased amount of time sleeping.
  • Altered Grooming Pattern: Arthritic pain may lead to your cat spending less time grooming, causing them to have a matted coat. They may over-groom areas around sore joints, and their claws might have grown longer as a result of reduced activity and reduced sharpening of their claws.
  • Changes in Temperament: Increased irritability when handled or stroked as well as an increased avoidance of interaction with people.
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Causes of Arthritis in Cats

Feline arthritis can develop with no underlying cause and simply in response to the mechanical wear and tear on the feline’s joint that accompanies aging. Or it can be a secondary disease that develops in the cat as a result of the following:

  • Genetics: Main Coon, Siamese, and Scottish Folds have a genetic predisposition to arthritis.
  • Injury or Trauma: Fractures, dislocated joints, and other joint injuries can lead to the condition.
  • Infection or Inflammation: These conditions can lead to an abnormal conformation of the joints and cartilage damage.
  • Obesity: While obesity in and of itself does not cause arthritis, obesity can exacerbate the problem by causing the body to release inflammatory mediators and worsening the joint inflammation.
  • Acromegaly: This is a rare condition that develops in cats when a tumor that affects the pituitary gland makes too much growth hormone. This, in turn, leads to arthritis in the joints.
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Diagnosis of Arthritis in Cats

Due to the prevalence of arthritis in older cats, veterinarians will examine any cat over the age of seven for the disease. After relating any and all symptoms seen in the cat, the veterinarian will conduct a physical examination and note any symptoms of feline arthritis discussed earlier in this article, such as pain, swelling, or other changes in the joint. 

If arthritis is suspected, x-rays of affected joints may be taken to confirm the diagnosis. If the veterinarian has doubts as to whether or not the cat has arthritis, they may prescribe a trial dose of anti-inflammatory medicine and then monitor the feline’s performance. If it is determined that your older feline requires a particular medicine, your veterinarian may recommend a blood and urine test to guarantee that these medications will not negatively impact your pet’s health. 

You can do your part to help your veterinarian by monitoring the activity of your feline and bringing them in for a checkup if the symptoms of arthritis are present.

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Treatment of Arthritis in Cats

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all cure for arthritis in felines. Multiple factors need to be considered to provide optimal help.

  • Modifying the Feline's Environment:

    This would include providing your feline with a soft, comfortable bed to lay in. It’s to be located in a quiet location that is free of drafts. Constructing ramps or stairs to allow your cat to reach their favorite higher locations in the house could be beneficial. Food and water should be easily accessible, and arthritic cats may require more grooming from their owners.

  • Diet and Dietary Supplements:

    Your veterinarian will work with you to create a diet that is in line with your cat's age, breed, size, and activity level. Reduced weight has been shown to minimize the clinical symptoms of arthritis in cats. Your veterinarian may recommend dietary supplements, including those that have essential fatty acids, which can reduce inflammation.

  • Pharmaceuticals:

    Your veterinarian may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Administering these drugs should only be done with the approval and under the supervision of a veterinarian. In some cats, additional painkilling medicine may be needed when NSAIDs do not adequately address the pain.

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Recovery of Arthritis in Cats

Since arthritis in cats is a long-term disease, it will require constant monitoring on your part. If symptoms of the disease worsen, or if it is clear that the course of medication provided by your veteran is not functioning, follow-up visits may be necessary.

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Arthritis Average Cost

From 378 quotes ranging from $150 - $1,000

Average Cost

$500

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Arthritis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Lady

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feline grey tabby

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12 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

My 12 year old female cat suddenly started walking with difficulty and losing the ability to walk more than a few steps before sitting down. Having trouble climbing steps, staying to herself, still eating. She is very wobbly and on occasion bumps into walls. She is not crying but it is plain to see she is having difficulty. Could this be arthritis?

Aug. 15, 2018

Lady's Owner

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0 Recommendations

There are various causes for the symptoms described which may include arthritis, however from your description we need to ensure that there are no issues with the spine, joints, neurological issues, poisoning among other causes. Your Veterinarian will be able to tell you more after an examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 16, 2018

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CryBaby

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Orange tabby mix

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10 Months

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Cheeks
Stiff Skin
Irritable
Loosing Weight
Ear Mites

I don’t know what to do I’m scared. I can’t pet my kitten anymore he won’t let me. He is an outdoor cat and has Gotten in a fight or two but I don’t think it’s that because it’s been going on for about three months and it hasn’t gone down at all it’s been getting bigger and I wouldn’t explain his stiff skin and there is no puncture wound at all over the past three months it has popped and sprayed blood everywhere and then healed over and then just gotten bigger I think he’s been scratching at it and that’s why it was popping but I don’t know he hasn’t had any of his shots and I had saved up money to take him to the vet but it was stolen out of my house and I know I’m gonna need a vet but I at least need to know what’s wrong with him to see if I need to take him today and will be in debt Or if I can wait a week and still save up and I already know he has ear mites we’ve been treating it off and on but They just keep coming back. I miss my cuddle we can’t even touch him without him hissing. I’m very scared that it might be something serious

Aug. 2, 2018

CryBaby's Owner

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0 Recommendations

I see you asked another question with more detail, but I cannot give you any specific diagnosis without examining CryBaby first; there are many conditions which may be affecting him and the hissing is probably an indicator of pain. If this has been going on for months you shouldn’t delay in visiting a Veterinarian, I know money is tight but you may be able to find a charity clinic or other organisation near your home. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 3, 2018

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Arthritis Average Cost

From 378 quotes ranging from $150 - $1,000

Average Cost

$500

Vet bills can sneak up on you.

Plan ahead. Get the pawfect insurance plan for your pup.

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