Can Cats Have Arthritis?

Just like any other animal and just like people, cats can get arthritis. Arthritis is linked with the aging of the joints in the body, and most animals will end up with some form of arthritis as they age. Cats are not always good about communicating that they are in pain or not feeling well, so it can be hard to tell your cat has arthritis until its condition is advanced.

If you think that your cat might have arthritis, there are some easy ways to make them more comfortable. Your veterinarian can help you to treat this condition in your cat, which can greatly impact the quality of your cat’s life every day. Arthritis can be very painful and can lead to lethargy and an unwillingness to move around. This is why treating arthritis in your cat is important.


Signs of Arthritis in Cats

Cats that have arthritis might move more stiffly and might choose not to jump up onto things like they used to or seem slow going up stairs. They might also limp, or they could lick their legs and feet frequently, trying to ease and soothe pain related to arthritic joints. Painful joints can lead to strange sitting posture as well, or your cat might even appear to be dragging a leg due to fusing joints.

In cases where arthritis is very advanced, cats might choose not to get up to eat and drink and might even make messes in the house so that they do not have to walk all the way to the litter box. This can lead to all kinds of upheaval in your home, and you will want to avoid these more difficult symptoms of this condition and help your cat to feel better again right away.

Cats are very stoical animals, as a rule, so you need to consider that your cat might have been dealing with arthritis pain for a long time before you have noticed changes in their behavior. Cats can be tough to treat for common ailments because they are not good communicators about their discomforts or how they are feeling.

How to Help Your Cat with Arthritis

There are some effective treatments that your vet can provide to your cat to help manage pain and improve inflammation that might be causing your cat’s joints to hurt.


Pain medications and products like MSM and Glucosamine can help your cat to feel better and can even help heal some of the damage related to their arthritis. This is the primary treatment plan for pets with arthritis, and it can make a huge impact on the comfort of these animals, even in more advanced stages of the condition.

Diet Changes

Some changes to diet can also help your cat to feel better if they are struggling with arthritis. You might want to make a change to an older pet food formula, and you should consider adding some omega-4 fatty acids to your pet’s diet. These can help with anti-inflammatory processes and support healthy joint fluid within your cat’s joints.

Larger Litter Box

You can also make sure that you get your cat a bigger litter box that is easy to get into and out of. Avoid litter boxes with lids or that require that your cat to jump up into the box as they might not be up for this task anymore. You should also relocate the box downstairs if your cat has been having to go upstairs to access their litter box. This will reduce the risk of accidents on painful days when the stairs are too much for your cat to deal with.

Provide Easy Access to Food and Water

Make sure as well that you place your cat’s food and water where they can access it readily so that they don’t give up on eating and drinking when they are not feeling their best. Jumping up onto counters or other kinds of high places to eat might just not be possible for animals impacted by arthritis. Make sure as well that your cat does not have to crane their neck or stand up very tall to get into the bowls that you are using to deliver water and food.

Provide Access to Their Favorite Spots

You can also move sleeping spaces for your cat to lower areas in the house or get steps that allow your cat to climb onto the couch or their cat scratching tree. These areas might be their favorite place to be still, but if they cannot reach them, they might be nervous or unhappy about having to lay on the floor or underfoot.

Adding locations for your cat to rest and hide away in safety can be important if they are having trouble getting around. Cats with arthritis can exhibit anxiety since they are not able to get away from traffic-laden areas in the house or because they might feel like they can’t get away from other pets to rest.

Treating Cat Arthritis is Easier Than You Might Think

If your cat has been diagnosed with arthritis, there are some good options to help them to manage its pain and feel better. Make sure to take your cat to the veterinarian to have their arthritis assessed and to help make a treatment plan that will prevent further joint damage and the loss of function that can come along with more advanced cases. Arthritis is best managed when it is detected early, and your vet can help you to create the right support plan for your cat to prevent ongoing issues that will reduce your cat’s quality of life.

Treating arthritis with diet changes, environmental changes, and some medications can help your cat to manage to get around very well despite their aging joints. Your cat will thank you for making an effort to treat their arthritis, and you will probably be surprised at just how much your cat’s arthritis was impacting their quality of life.

Need to talk with a Heart + Paw veterinarian about your cat’s arthritis? Book an appointment online at any of our locations today!

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Heart + Paw was founded in 2018 by Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. George Melillo, who currently serves the Mid-Atlantic area. Heart + Paw offers a combination of veterinary care, pet grooming, and dog daycare to help be a resource in your pet parenthood journey.

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