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There is new evidence that shows that significantly more cats suffer from chronic joint disease and pain than previously thought. However, the right treatment allows them to continue to enjoy a good quality of life.

Osteoarthritis in Cats

  • There is a difference between osteoarthritis and arthritis;
  • However, both are related and form a vicious circle;
  • Cats are very good at hiding pain and often show up very late when they have problems and joint discomfort.

The difference between osteoarthritis and arthritis

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Osteoarthritis is a sign of wear and tear on joints caused by chronic joint diseases. An arthritic joint shows damage to the articular cartilage, a thickened joint capsule, excessive bone tissue, and altered synovial fluid. Failed attempts at repair by the organism lead to degenerative joint changes. They also restrict joint function and lead to joint pain, arthritis pain.

In short: osteoarthritis is the loss of cartilage mass in the joint and the increasing damage to the cartilage.

Arthritis is an acute or chronic inflammation of the joints. In many cases, it leads to permanent damage and changes in the joints, i.e. to osteoarthritis. Arthritis can be triggered by a number of different causes. A bacterial infection can be to blame, as can an immune disease or, most often, cartilage damage. In the case of cartilage damage, the immune system wrongly classifies the released components of the cartilage as foreign substances and fights them with an inflammatory reaction, which leads to a loss of cartilage tissue.

In osteoarthritis, the cartilage damage repeatedly leads to arthritis attacks, which in turn further destroy the affected joint.

And so the wheel of the vicious circle keeps turning.

How often does osteoarthritis occur in cats?

Cats suffer from osteoarthritis much more often than previously thought. They are great at hiding pain. Only when they suffer from massive joint problems and chronic pain do they show that something is wrong. X-rays of joints in older cats often reveal nasty surprises. X-rays show signs of osteoarthritis in nine out of ten cats over the age of 12. Although only some of the cats are lame, many have multiple joints and spine findings.

What causes osteoarthritis in cats?

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Usually, osteoarthritis is caused by excessive stress on the joints, which damages the cartilage.

An absolute overload can result from the action of strong forces; if the cartilage is damaged, a relative overload can occur. Osteoarthritis can be promoted in its development by anything that puts a lot of stress on joints. Especially when the stress comes again and again, for example when cats jump from a great height every day. Obesity is also a permanent burden. In older animals, the articular cartilage becomes less resilient and increasingly loses its elasticity, which increases the risk of osteoarthritis.

How can you tell if a cat has osteoarthritis?

Many cats with osteoarthritis move more slowly. Your gait appears stiffer, stretching and lolling become less frequent. The cat no longer likes to play, often it no longer likes to be petted or carried around. The cleaning and jumping will be stopped, especially high jumps will be less frequent. There may be constipation or incontinence as well as discomfort with plaintive meowing. Typical of osteoarthritis is greater lameness or restricted mobility after resting. The cat has to run in first. If the pain is severe, cats can refuse to feed, withdraw or become aggressive.

Can osteoarthritis be treated in cats?

Osteoarthritis cannot be cured. However, the progress can be delayed by various measures. The first step should be cleared by the veterinarian. He can make the exact diagnosis and determine the individual treatment. If the cat is already in pain, it is important that you relieve the pain. The anti-inflammatory medication must also be administered regularly over a longer period of time. The inflammatory cycle cannot be interrupted otherwise.

Since cats metabolize completely differently than humans, the cat may only receive painkillers from the veterinarian.

Are there any alternative remedies?

Joint-supporting nutrients can be used to support pain medication. They provide important building blocks for joint metabolism. Part of it also has anti-inflammatory effects. If the case of osteoarthritis is mild, pain therapy can be dispensed with in some cases. Joint support nutrients for cats are:

  • Glycosaminoglycans (GAG) Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, often combined with manganese;
  • Omega-3 fatty acids;
  • Antioxidants;
  • Often New Zealand green-lipped mussel extract.

How else can the cat be helped?

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Obese cats should definitely lose weight. Every extra gram of body weight is an additional burden for damaged joints. Studies have shown that the weight loss associated with pain medication significantly improved clinical symptoms.

You should try to get your cat moving enough without putting too much strain on her joints.

Games with the cat should be done regularly, but at a moderate pace and without jumping from tall objects. A lot of acceleration and braking are also not good for the joints.

The severity of the joint disease will determine how much the cat should move. The veterinarian can provide advice here. Many cats can also be helped through special physiotherapy with massages, heat applications, and mobilization techniques. A place to lie that is warm, draft-free, and soft is extremely important for the cat’s wellbeing. In order for the cat to get onto the pitch, it shouldn’t have to jump. Cats like to have a good view from where they lie, they are then often happy to receive an ascent aid or a place on lower levels. If several cats live in the household, each cat should have the opportunity to withdraw.

Can osteoarthritis in cats be prevented?

There are several things that can be done for the cat to prevent joint problems as much as possible. Healthy growth is the best foundation. This can be achieved through a proper diet for younger cats. Older cats should also be given food that is precisely tailored to their needs. Cats should never become overweight. A lot of exercise without a high risk of injury and wild stunts is important. Regular checks at the vet should be observed. If the cat is at risk of developing osteoarthritis, joint-supporting nutrients should be given with the food.