Arthritis in an elderly cat is as common as it is in an elderly person. Just like humans their cartilage wears out and becomes thin allowing for bones to rub together causing inflammation and pain.
Knowing if your cat has arthritis is something that only a vet can accurately diagnose however there are various symptoms that might lead you to suspect that your cat is feeling their age and a little creaky. It may become noticeable that your cat starts to walk with stiff legs and becomes more and more reluctant to go outside, preferring instead to sleep more and generally be less active. Picking up your cat may also become something that you do less as they tend to cry out as they are lifted, this could be due to pain in their joints.
If your cat is diagnosed with arthritis there is unfortunately no cure for the condition, but there are medicines that can be given which will ease the inflammation and pain for your pet. Your vet is likely to prescribe one of the NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) that are similar to the human drug ibuprofen; as well reducing pain they will also slow the progression of the illness.
As a cat owner it can be difficult for us to see our pets in discomfort and not being able to get around as much as they used to. The desire to want to provide your cat with as much help and support to cope with the arthritis and through their old age is natural and luckily there are a few things that can be done to make your pets life a little more comfortable.
Making sure that your home is cat friendly and that it is easy for your arthritic cat to get around is probably one of the easiest things you can do. Make sure that their bedding is placed on a low surface and that it is easy to climb into. The bed should also be well padded to make it as comfortable for old bones as possible, there are even special orthopaedic cat beds available that help to distribute body weight so that joints are not under any pressure.
Make sure that litter trays do not have high sides, which would be difficult to climb in and out of and place all food, and water bowls on the floor in a safe area where the cat will not be disturbed. Even floor surfaces should be made easy to walk on. Polished floors can be slippery and difficult to walk on with stiff legs; placing mats down in areas where your cat normally spends their time is a good solution.
A cat with arthritis will need special food to meet their dietary needs, which will help support their system to fend off illness and to keep their bones as strong as possible. If possible home prepared cat food is the best option as it allows you to only feed your pet the best food without any of the synthetic preservatives found in commercial food. The types of food which would help your pet are fresh meat, raw vegetables with added pet vitamins and daily supplements, but it is always best to check with your vet to make sure that certain foods are OK to feed to your cat.
If preparing your own homemade cat food is not for you, there are plenty of top quality cat foods available on the market that is suited for the elderly cat. However do check that they do not contain ethoxyquin preservatives, BHA and BHT nitrates, as these over time can be harmful to your arthritic cat.
Keeping your cat as active as possible is also to be encouraged with a cat with arthritis. They will not want to do much and so will require some gentle persuasion on your part. Keeping them active is important for two reasons. Firstly an inactive cat is prone to put weight on which will increase the pressure on their joints. Secondly it will help to keep the joints mobile and not to stiffen too much. Even a very gentle game of chase the string or find the treat once a day may make all the difference for your cats long term mobility and health.
More cat health and cat care tips can be found at our site http://www.our-happy-cat.com A feline friendly community full of helpful advice and fun things to do to make sure you have a happy cat and a happy you.
Copyright 2007 Kate Tilmouth