causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention

Osteoarthritis is an inflammatory disease characterized by progressive and, unfortunately, irreversible degradation of cat cartilage. It weakens the animal’s joints and makes each movement more complex. Particularly painful, it is often detected late in cats. Unfortunately, it is impossible to cure osteoarthritis, but it is possible to alleviate this disease of aged cats by providing appropriate solutions. We check in.

What Causes Osteoarthritis in Cats?

Osteoarthritis in cats is a condition characterized by a progressive degradation of bone cartilage. Irreversible, it can become very painful quickly when the animal has to lean on the affected joint. Very often, the disease develops in the hindquarters, spine, hips, knees and elbows.

There are two forms of feline osteoarthritis:

  • primary osteoarthritis occurs as the cat ages and is due to degeneration of the animal’s bone cartilage;
  • Secondary osteoarthritis is a form of osteoarthritis that occurs at any age, as a result of inflammation that occurs after an illness or trauma.

Osteoarthritis can have several causes.


Osteoarthritis is a disease of older cats that affects cats from the age of 7 and worsens over time. Almost 80% of 11-year-old cats suffer from this condition. It is linked to the physiological aging of the animal’s joints, which will lead to the slow deterioration of its cartilage, and this, irreversibly. Therefore, it is impossible to cure the animal, but it is important to implement solutions that will alleviate its comfort of life.

overweight and obesity

An overweight or obese cat may suffer from joint pain due to being overweight. Tension of the musculoskeletal system prematurely wears away the animal’s joints.

In France, about 80% of cats are spayed and 45% are overweight, because this type of operation promotes weight gain. Therefore, it is important to make sure that your animal is fed a quality, healthy and balanced diet and that it can exercise daily.


Hip dysplasia is a disease characterized by a genetic bone malformation that leads to deformity of the joint. As the head of the femur is no longer sufficiently supported by the ligaments, it rubs against the pelvic cavity and causes a particularly painful inflammation.

However, this inflammation promotes the appearance of osteoarthritis. It is often seen in certain breeds of cats that are predisposed to it, but it can affect many animals.

Bone trauma

Cats, especially when they have access to the outside, are at risk for bone fractures or trauma. Falling, car accident, chase, fights with his congeners, the cat can get hurt. However, bone trauma promotes the appearance of osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis in cats: what are the symptoms?

Osteoarthritis affects both cats and dogs, but is usually diagnosed later, because cats tend to mask pain more easily. It is when the animal is very disabled, limping or struggling to move that the disease becomes visible.

When a cat has osteoarthritis, it may show the following symptoms:

  • Reduced mobility: The cat can no longer climb stairs. He finds it difficult to jump on or from a high support or he can no longer do so.
  • Lack of dynamism: the animal no longer plays, it is less dynamic. He lacks the drive to go out and play.
  • Lack of cleanliness: The cat has no flexibility and finds it difficult to wash. Their fur is duller, less clean and more tangled. Cat’s claws are less sharp.
  • Possible accidents: Defecating in a high box can be difficult. The animal may tend to look for other solutions, so “accidents” are not uncommon.
  • Difficulty eating: The animal may have difficulty eating, reaching its bowl, or crouching down to support itself.
  • A change in behavior: The cat may not tolerate being carried, grabbed, or touched because of the pain. You may have aggressive reactions, try to isolate yourself, or even be more irritable.

If in doubt, do not hesitate to consult your veterinarian. The sooner you take care of your pet, the sooner it will be possible to delay the effects of the disease and relieve the pain of the cat.

Osteoarthritis in cats: what are the possible treatments?

It is not possible to cure a cat suffering from osteoarthritis, because this pathology is irreversible. On the other hand, there are solutions that can improve the comfort of life and relieve pain.

prescription drugs

The veterinarian usually prescribes pharmacological treatments to relieve the pain of the animal more effectively. Very often, the doctor recommends suitable anti-inflammatory drugs for cats, which should be taken for a short time in case of severe crisis.

On the other hand, it is necessary to avoid self-medication at all costs and in particular to give human drugs to the cat, because they are toxic to cats.

Alternative care and alternative medicine

There are alternative solutions to relieve osteoarthritis attacks in cats. Manipulations and massages can help reduce pain and hydrotherapy sessions, which involve walking the animal in the water, improving the cat’s mobility.

Food supplements

To help the animal suffering from osteoarthritis, it is possible to establish a therapeutic diet based on the absorption of chondroprotectors, which are protective elements of the joints. There are prepared complexes, prescribed by the vet.

These are the most recommended dietary supplements for osteoarthritis:

  • harpagophytum, a plant native to South Africa, is a natural anti-inflammatory;
  • dolçaina, rich in salicylic acid, reduces inflammatory pain;
  • Litotamni, a remineralizing alga, stabilizes the degradation of bone cartilage.

Adaptation to the cat’s environment

To facilitate the daily life of the animal and reduce its pain, it is preferable to adapt its environment. For example, you can buy a tray with a low edge, place your bowls on the floor or on a very slightly raised stand, offer a comfortable, warm, soft bed, brush your coat regularly, and so on.

Feel free to consult your veterinarian for advice.

Can osteoarthritis be prevented in cats?

Osteoarthritis is a disease that occurs in almost 80% of cats aged 10 years. Therefore, it is difficult to avoid, because it is a consequence of the natural degradation of the animal’s armor. On the other hand, it is possible to make sure that you offer the best possible lifestyle to your little partner to delay the onset of the disease.

Here are our tips on the subject:

  • Provide your cat with quality, healthy, and balanced food throughout its life. It must be adapted to your profile (particularly your age) to meet your nutritional needs without risk of deficiency and fragility.
  • Be sure to allow your cat to exercise every day. You need to maintain moderate and regular physical activity to preserve the good health of your bones, muscles and joints.
  • Play regularly with your pet to make it work.
  • Avoid being overweight and obese with a balanced diet.

Leave a Comment