Recent studies have indicated that over 90% of cats suffer with arthritis in their later years, I personally wouldn’t be surprised if this wasn’t higher. We spend lots of time with our dogs and so start to notice them slowing down on walks, becoming stiff when they stand after a rest, but what about our cats? Cats are solitary survivors and so will battle on regardless and will often hide their pain and discomfort. This makes it hard for us cat owners to acknowledge there is something wrong. The obvious signs would be stiffness and lameness especially after rest but often this is at an advanced stage so if we can pick up subtle changes earlier we can hopefully slow the disease process. Pay more attention to your cat’s routine, notice where they like to explore, where they like to take a catnap. If they are outdoor cats they might have a favourite shed roof they can climb onto, inside they might have a cupboard they like to jump up onto. However, as their mobility starts to reduce they tend to not visit these places anymore. They start sleeping on lower places and may find the warmer parts of the floor that have warm pipes underneath, this could be in the middle of a busy corridor! You may notice their coat becoming untidy and the longer haired cats start to get matts as they are unable to turn and groom so efficiently.
As we know arthritis is a progressive disease and so once it starts to set into the joints it will sadly only get worse so we need to be vigilant and try and help our cats. Notice their favourite places and if they just can’t quite get up there anymore put some thought into how they can IE a stool or box as a stepping stone. Older cats will also feel more reluctant to toilet outside especially if they have fear of an ambush from another cat or they have to battle with the weather. So consider the use of a litter tray as this can make the world of difference to an older cat’s routine. Types of tray and litters that have come out in recent years make them not such a burden to us. It’s a small inconvenience to have if it means our cats get a more relaxed trip into their senior years.
If you feel that your cat may be suffering from some wear and tear, ultimately they are elite athletes then please get in touch and I can advise you on some preventative healthcare management. If we can delay the use of non-steroidal drug management this can only be a good thing.