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Does Your CH Cat Have Arthritis? Keep An Eye Out For These Behaviors

January 19, 2013

There’s something beautiful about spending your years with a feline friend. Yes, every year you get a little older, maybe a little grayer, but that also leads to a deeper, more meaningful relationship with your furry buddy.

Photo courtesy thebadgerrides

That said, unfortunately, aging is not always so idyllic. As your cat ages, she, like you, may generally become less spry. Most senior cats exhibit some symptoms as they age including stiffness, pain, and muscle loss. While some of that can be attributed to simply aging and maturing, it may also be due to arthritis. While arthritis isn’t life threatening, it can be painful and usually worsens with age.

Nearly one in three cats will develop arthritis by the time they’re 8-years old, and like with humans, feline joint pain can be debilitating. But you can help your cat. Keep an eye open for these signs and symptoms as she ages.

As we know, cats can be quite talented at hiding their pain, so sometimes instead of looking for the obvious symptoms, it’s up to us to keep an eye open for more subtle behavior changes. Plus, since arthritis is a dull aching type of affliction, it’s unlikely that your cat will ever cry out in pain. In fact, the earliest signs that your cat may be feeling arthritic are usually behavioral, including:

  • She goes to the bathroom outside of the litter box, because it’s painful to get in and out of
  • She grooms herself less, or no longer grooms certain areas, because she can no longer reach parts of her body (especially if her spine or hips are affected)
  • She becomes more reclusive, seeking opportunities to be alone and intentionally avoiding others
  • She behaves more irritable, nervous or aggressive around you and your family

Other signs may include:

  • Stiffness, limping or favoring a limb, especially after sleeping or resting
  • Difficulty getting up after lying down
  • Altered gait (the way your cat walks)
  • Difficulty or unwillingness to jump, climb, or negotiate stairs (if she was once able to do these things)
  • Photo courtesy Magnetics Guy

    Muscle atrophy (the reduction in the size of muscle) in affected limbs

  • Some cats may become less active and sleep more, others may be restless and find it difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position
  • Some cats may lose their appetite if the pain gets to be too much. Watch for weight loss or loss of interest in meals
  • Licking or biting the painful area
  • Some cats may seek out warmth or soft places to sleep (however, I think most do this!)

Granted, some of these behaviors may occur for a multitude of reasons, so while keeping an eye open for subtle changes in your cat’s behavior, keep the big picture in mind, to see if all of the pieces fit together.

Plus, each cat can react to pain in a different way, so this isn’t an exhaustive, be-all, end-all list.

If you suspect your cat may have arthritis, set up an appointment with your vet. Your veterinarian will be able to conduct a physical exam, take radiographs and perform other tests to determine the cause of the pain and inflammation in your cat’s joints. Most cats simply live with the pain, but treatment can improve their quality of life.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2013 10:55 am

    Thank you for all of your information! I volunteered with two CH cats where I live in NY at a no kill shelter. I did not know at first what was wrong when I saw one of the cats fall down, it made me so sad, especially not knowing what was wrong or how I could help. I then learned about CH. Your blog has given me incredible insight on cats with special needs, thank you again!

    • January 21, 2013 8:01 am

      Hi Vanessa,
      Thank you for commenting! I’m glad to hear my blog has been helpful and that your shelter takes in CH kitties! If you’d like to write up some notes about them, and send a few photos, I’d love to post something about them!

  2. Rich B permalink
    January 20, 2013 9:03 am

    More very helpful information, thanks!

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