Causes of Arthritis
Arthritis is inflammation of a joint. It may affect any joint in the body but most commonly affects the joints of the limbs and spine. A normal joint has smooth cartilage on either side lubricated by thick joint fluid. A damaged joint has a rough cartilage surface which “grinds” against the opposing surface leading to further erosion. Degeneration may continue until cartilage is worn down and eventually pain and lameness occurs.

In cats the most common cause of arthritis is associated with aging.

Please see our video on cat arthritis for some more information.

Signs of Arthritis
The signs of arthritis in cats are much more subtle than in dogs and may include one or several of the following:

  • reduced grooming behaviour
  • inability to jump as high
  • refusing to go outside or hiding
  • sleeping more

Diagnosis of Arthritis
We can be highly suspicious of arthritis from the way a pet is behaving. Feeling and moving the joints will help localise the joints affected. Radiographs (x-rays) are often needed before treatment to determine the severity of the arthritis.

Important Points in Treatment
In most cases arthritis is a disease that can be controlled rather than cured.

Medications.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) These drugs are related to human NSAIDS such as Celebrex. We have these medications in injectable, tablet and liquid forms.

Disease Modifying Agents
There is injectable “Disease Modifying Agent” that blocks some of the inflammation in the joint, increases the production of fluid in the joint and helps normalise the immune response within the joint. This is an injection that is given once weekly for 4 weeks then monthly for 3 months then usually repeated every 3 months. Improvement is sometimes not seen until a few weeks into the course

Diet
Diet plays an important part in the health and function of joints. There is a prescription diet called Hills J/D (Joint Diet) that has been formulated to provide optimum nutrition for arthritis joints.

Acupuncture

Either needles or laser, is used to give analgesia and/or anti-inflammatory effects over long periods. Generally a five week course of treatments given weekly is necessary.

Weight Control
Weight control is an essential component of arthritis control because obesity worsens arthritic conditions by increasing the load on each joint.