The Most Common Signs of Arthritis in Cats


Cats, especially older ones, often struggle with arthritis. However, you may not realize your pet has the disease until it has progressed significantly. Cats are usually very good at concealing their arthritis symptoms, so you’ll need to keep a watchful eye and know what to look for. This guide should help.

Risk Factors for Feline Arthritis

Some cats are more likely to get arthritis than others. Common risk factors include:

  • Age: The older your cat is, the more likely she is to develop arthritis.
  • Obesity: Larger cats are more likely to develop arthritis than thinner cats.
  • Injuries: If your cat has experienced joint injuries in the past, she may be more susceptible to arthritis.
  • Congenital problems: Any joint abnormalities at birth may cause arthritis later in life. Hip dysplasia is a common congenital abnormality that often leads to arthritis.

Signs of Arthritis in Cats

All symptoms of arthritis are caused by pain. If your cat shows any signs of pain, it is possible that she has arthritis. Common symptoms may include:

  • Lethargy and excessive sleepiness during the day. Your cat may lay around even more than usual, refusing to get up when you call her.
  • She may become very anxious, pacing and refusing to lie still.
  • She may be unable to find a comfortable position for resting or will spend an excessive amount of time looking for a comfortable place to sleep.
  • Your cat may avoid certain family members, specifically children or other pets.
  • She may be more irritable or grumpy than usual.
  • Your cat may not want to be petted. She may even bite or scratch when you try to pet or hold her.
  • Your cat may not want to be held or touched at all.
  • She may have difficulty using the litter box. You may find feces or urine just outside the litter box or “hidden” in other areas of the house.
  • Your cat may not be able to groom herself as she once did. She may start to smell or look ragged.
  • She may have a decreased appetite or even lose weight.
  • Your cat may limp or favor one leg over others.

Your pet may try to hide these symptoms, so you’ll need to pay attention to catch arthritis in the early stages. Usually, the symptoms do not manifest all at once. Instead, it is a gradual onset, and the symptoms may be very mild in the beginning. At first, you may simply feel that your cat is experiencing the normal signs of aging, then you may later realize that something more is happening. If you suspect your cat has arthritis, monitor her behavior and symptoms carefully and schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.

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