Osteoarthritis in cats

Osteoarthritis in cats is widespread - in 90 % of all cats over 12 years of age, a study [1] showed the chronic joint disease on X-ray. Nevertheless, the irreversible and painful joint alteration remains undiscovered in many cases, as it does not always manifest itself in cats through lameness, but primarily through behavioural changes. For example, sick cats avoid jumping from a great height or move more stiffly. Even though the chronic disease cannot be cured, early diagnosis and a quick start of treatment is crucial to slow down the progression of osteoarthritis in cats as much as possible. As a cat owner, you should therefore pay attention to the first symptoms and hidden signs of disease in your four-legged friend and act in time to preserve your pet's quality of life for as long as possible.

 

 

Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease of the joints. As joints between two or more bones, joints are the most sensitive part of the musculoskeletal system. Depending on the movement situation, they are sometimes exposed to strong stresses. The ends of the bones that meet in the joint are covered by a smooth layer of cartilage that acts as a kind of "shock absorber" and ensures that the joint can move smoothly. In the case of arthrosis, this cartilage tissue is damaged. In the course of arthrosis, inflammatory changes occur in the entire joint due to the missing buffer function of the cartilage. Arthrosis does not only affect the joint cartilage - all other structures of the joint such as bones, joint capsule, ligaments, tendons and muscles are also affected.
The more the cartilage is damaged and thus can no longer fulfil its shock-absorbing function, the more painful movements can be, as the ends of the bones rub directly against each other. Often, the cats then move much less. This in turn accelerates the disease process, as the remaining articular cartilage cannot be supplied with sufficient nutrients without movement.
Chronic joint disease usually occurs in older animals, as the elasticity and resilience of the articular cartilage is lost through natural ageing processes. Excessive stress, such as a fall from a great height, can also cause damage to the articular cartilage. The same applies to cartilage injuries caused by non-healed or poorly healed blunt trauma associated with strains or bruises. Another cause of osteoarthritis in cats is obesity, as excessive weight puts excessive stress on the joints.
Osteoarthritis in cats occurs mainly in the joints of the elbows, hips, knees and paws.

Symptoms of arthrosis in cats

How can osteoarthritis be recognised?

Cats are masters at hiding their pain. Unlike dogs, arthrosis in cats does not always manifest itself through lameness. As a cat owner, you should therefore look out for other warning signs and become attentive if you notice conspicuous behavioural changes in your four-legged friend. These include, for example, that the cat moves less and shows a stiff gait, avoids stairs and no longer jumps or at least not as high as before.
It is typical that the cat often moves in a restricted and stiff way at the beginning of the stress, but after a certain time the movements become much freer. You should also take an increased need for sleep seriously, especially if your cat plays less and avoids interaction with other cats and people. It can also happen that the cat neglects its grooming because it is less mobile or suffers from pain. Some cats also avoid going to the litter box, especially if the entrance is high, and become unclean. In addition to the typical physical behavioural changes, arthritis in cats can also cause aggression, fear or obsessive behaviour.    
If you suspect your cat may be suffering from arthritis, consult a vet as soon as possible. The earlier osteoarthritis in cats is recognised and treated, the better the chances of stopping the disease and maintaining the quality of life for as long as possible.

A successful therapy requires an accurate diagnosis

When a cat with suspected osteoarthritis is presented to the veterinarian, he will carry out a series of examinations in order to be able to make an exact diagnosis. First of all, the so-called anamnesis gives him helpful information. The veterinarian depends on your help for this detailed preliminary report: Does the animal suffer from any previous illnesses? Does it have to take medication regularly, and if so, what kind? Have you noticed any changes in your cat's behaviour? This and other valuable information will help the vet to proceed.    
In the following, the vet will perform an adspection, a visual examination of the patient. As osteoarthritis is a common condition in cats, the veterinarian can usually make a preliminary diagnosis just by looking at the cat. Assessing the cat in different postures and movements, such as standing, sitting and standing up, walking or jumping from the examination table, provides information about whether and which joints are affected. Any visible swelling of the joints can also be detected.  
The vet will then carry out a palpation: A thorough palpation of the limbs will reveal swelling, restricted movement, poor muscling and pain.  
If necessary, a final X-ray examination, a computer tomography (CT) or an ultrasound can confirm the diagnosis of osteoarthritis and rule out other causes as well as show which of the animal's joints are affected by the chronic disease. Imaging procedures also provide information about the extent of the changes.

Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease, so it cannot be cured because the cartilage is irreversibly destroyed. However, it is possible to slow down the progression of osteoarthritis in cats with the right therapy and maintain the animal's quality of life. Pain management is also a crucial factor in therapy.  
Since arthrosis treatment is necessary for life, it must meet special requirements. On the one hand, it is important to reliably counteract the arthrosis pain and to maintain or improve the function and mobility of the joints. On the other hand, medicines or other therapies should be easy to use. Another important factor is that they should be well tolerated and have as few side effects as possible. As osteoarthritis in cats is usually a disease of old age and the animals often suffer from other diseases, the medicines should also be easy to combine with other medicines without any interaction. 

 
Good to know

Heel Vet's medicines have good efficacy and tolerability - also for long-term therapy - and are therefore well suited for the treatment of arthrosis in cats. In addition, they can be combined with other medicines, including conventional medicines. For legal reasons, we are not allowed to recommend any medicinal products. Your veterinarian will be happy to advise you on the possibilities of therapy with biological veterinary medicines.
1] Hardie EM et. al, Radiographic evidence of degenerative joint disease in geriatric cats: 100 cases (1994-1997). J Am Vet Med Assoc 2002; 220: 628-632.
If necessary, a final radiographic examination, computed tomography (CT) scan or ultrasound can confirm the diagnosis of osteoarthritis, rule out other causes and show which of the animal's joints are affected by the chronic disease. Imaging procedures also provide information about the extent of the changes.

Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease and cannot be cured because the cartilage is irreversibly destroyed. However, it is possible to slow down the progression of arthrosis in cats with the right therapy and to maintain the animal's quality of life. Pain management is also a crucial factor in therapy.

Since arthrosis treatment is necessary for life, it must meet special requirements. On the one hand, it is important to reliably counteract the arthrosis pain and to maintain or improve the function and mobility of the joints. On the other hand, medicines or other therapies should be easy to use. Another important factor is that they should be well tolerated and have as few side effects as possible. As osteoarthritis in cats is usually a disease of old age and the animals often suffer from other diseases, the medicines should also be easy to combine with other medicines without any interaction.   
Good to know
Heel Vet's medicines have good efficacy and tolerability - even for long-term therapy - and are therefore well suited to the treatment of arthrosis in cats. They can also be combined with other medicines, including conventional medicines. For legal reasons, we are not allowed to recommend any medicinal products. Your veterinarian will be happy to advise you on the possibilities of therapy with biological veterinary medicines.
1] Hardie EM et. al, Radiographic evidence of degenerative joint disease in geriatric cats: 100 cases (1994-1997). J Am Vet Med Assoc 2002; 220: 628-632.

 

 

 

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