Arthritis in Cats

Arthritis (inflammation of the joints) is a painful condition in all species, including ourselves. Cats are good at hiding obvious signs of arthritis, but it is very common with around 90% of cats over the age of 12 becoming affected.

In healthy joints, the cartilage (the lubricating layer of tissue over the end of the bone within the joint) allows the bones to smoothly glide over each other and also provides shock absorption. 

When arthritis is present, the cartilage breaks down (or degenerates) and wears away. Unfortunately, as a result of this degeneration, damaged joints and sensitive bones rub together during movement . The swelling and loss of motion which follows is often quite painful and ongoing (also known as chronic arthritis). 

Un fortunately, arthritis is a degenerative disease which must be managed. There is no cure, but management can really improve your cat's day to day life.

Signs of arthritis include:

  • Reduced playfullness
  • Limping or awkward movement
  • Stiffness and difficulty rising, negotiating stairs, and reduced jumping
  • Decreased grooming
  • Not using their scratching post, often appearing as matts of hair over the back in hard to reach spots. 
  • Abnormal toileting (unable to get in and out of litter box)
  • Increased vocalisation or hissing
  • Change in personality
  • Hiding


Treatment for Arthritis varies depending on the severity of the clinical signs your cat is displaying. Below are some treatments we often use to help arthritic cats. A combination of them may be the best treatment for your pet, "multimodal" therapy is often the best approach.  

  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight – excess weight increases pressure on joints and can make the pain of arthritis worse. It can also accelerate joint degeneration. Guidance is required on diet and eating plans.

  • Exercise – keeps the joints moving, maintains muscle mass and keeps optimum weight. Gentle movement like physiotherapy and hydrotherapy can help.

  • Bedding – Have bedding in a comfortable area of the floor away from cold drafts. Coats and blankets may also help.

  • Pain Relief - This is divided into two areas; medical therapy and dietary supplements. Medical therapy comes in the form of anti-inflammatory drugs used to reduce inflammation and joint pain. We carry a range of prescription only medication which includes Metacam oral suspension which is registered specifically for use in cats.

  • HUMAN medication IS NOT APPROPRIATE and could be harmful to your pet. 

  • Dietary Supplements are designed to provide natural products that can relieve chronic arthritic pain and include: Fish oils – Paws and Claws fish oil and Human fish oil capsules; and Joint Guard which comes in a powder and liver treat form.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you think your pet is or could be showing signs of arthritis. Caring for your pets is our main goal, so please call us on 6884 9900 and we’ll do our best to assist you.

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