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Does Your Cat Have Hidden Mobility Issues?

As a cat-only veterinary clinic, we have seen our fair share of feline patients suffering from life-limiting joint conditions.

In this article we’ll show you;

  • The common warning signs to look out for

  • Our Top Tips for supporting your pet’s mobility

  • Why this is also a concern for young pets

There are many reasons a cat may have reduced mobility, arthritis, spinal problems, neurological disorders, injury or even birth defects. Typically such issues bring with them pain and discomfort and although the cause may not be curable we have many treatment and management options to greatly improve your cat's quality of life and get that life-limiting pain under control.

Arthritis is the most common cause of chronic pain in all species, humans and cats included. Unfortunately for our pets, it is greatly underdiagnosed, with just 12% of cats with signs of osteoarthritis receiving treatment and support. Sadly this chronically painful and progressive disease is a major cause of elective euthanasia.

Our short blogs hope to raise awareness of the warning signs of hidden pain, prompting early intervention and help for your cat.

Common signs of your cat may have joint disease

If your cat is suffering from undiagnosed joint disease or mobility issue you may notice any of the following changes;

  • Reluctance to go up or down stairs

  • Cats may also avoid jumping up or down and onto or off high surfaces

  • Not wanting to climb into or onto their usual sleeping place

  • Your cat may be more grumpy than usual possibly even aggressive

  • Cats may stop using vertical spaces and scratching posts

  • Appearing more withdrawn and interacting less

  • Less active and reduced play

  • Limping or stiffness (worse after resting) and difficulty standing up

  • Signs of soreness when touched

  • Any other change in usual behaviour or routine including toileting

Zoetis has come up with a really helpful interactive owner guide for cats prompting you to look for the telltale signs of joint disease.

To think that so many cats suffer the pain of arthritis in silence is terribly sad. 90% of cats over the age of 12 years! Sometimes, a change in your cat’s behaviour such as newly pronounced anxiety or aggression when being handled or approached can be a sign of pain. A sore cat can equal a grumpy cat!

Our top tips for caring for your cat with mobility issues

  • Always consult your veterinarian if you notice any signs of lameness, stiffness or a change in how your cat moves around and follow treatment plans for medication.

  • Consider a joint supplement to promote joint health, our team will be happy to offer advice on a suitable range.

  • Avoid slippery floors, and use rugs in areas without carpeting.

  • Keep walkways clear to avoid slips, trips and falls.

  • Foam and memory foam can provide a comfortable bed.

  • Place non-slip feet on food bowls or use a mat to avoid them skidding away while your cat eats.

  • Keep a mobility diary, and note down good days and bad.

  • If necessary keep nails trimmed and fur on feet well maintained.

  • Keep your cat at a healthy weight. Our nursing team can offer an appointment at our weight management clinic if you require help or support.

Is mobility a concern for cats of all ages?

Mobility care should not just be limited to older pets. Some breeds of cats are more prone to abnormal joint development. Other pets may have had an injury or trauma resulting in damage to the joint.

The progression of one such painful condition, osteoarthritis which can affect pets as young as one year old, is seen below in our graphic.

What does the future hold for the treatment of osteoarthritis in cats?

Much like our own healthcare, veterinary medicine is constantly evolving and improving to give our pets the very best chance at a happy healthy life. During our time as veterinarians, we have seen incredible leaps forward in research and treatment options.

In the not too distant past, we knew nothing of the disease process of hyperthyroidism in cats. In reality, 1 in 10 middle-aged cats goes on to suffer from the condition. 1 in 10! That’s a significant number. Thankfully, these days, we have screening tests and many treatment options including medication, surgery and even radio-active iodine treatment. All with great success in controlling this disease.

The future of osteoarthritis care is equally as exciting. New technology involving monoclonal antibodies is currently being used to produce medication that combats the chronic joint pain suffered by osteoarthritis patients. This will greatly improve their quality of life!

We hope you have found our article helpful, if so why not share it with your friends? As always, if you have any concerns regarding your cat’s health please contact the clinic team.


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