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Arthritis 2013-12-24T23:42:35+00:00

Arthritis is a condition where one or more joints become swollen or inflamed. It can affect the hips, elbows, knees, and neck.

There are two types of arthritis:

  1. Primary – Rheumatoid Arthritis: this is a progressive and uncommon disease where the immune system attacks healthy joints
  2. Secondary – Osteoarthritis: the cartilage around a joint gets damaged, so new bone forms around the joint. This has no cartilage protecting it, and causes stiffness and pain

CAUSES:

While arthritis normally affects older cats, and worsens with age, cats of any age can have it.

Primary:

  • Old age
  • Injury
  • Auto-immune diseases (the immune system attacks its own body)

Secondary:

  • Old age
  • Injury
  • Disease: hip dysplasia, ligament rupture, joint infection
  • Obesity

SIGNS:

  • Painful joints
  • Swollen joints
  • Joint stiffness
  • Lameness, taking longer to get to its feet, unable to jump or climb
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression

DIAGNOSIS:

In order to properly diagnose your cat with arthritis, your veterinarian will begin with the following:

  • Review of medical history
  • Physical exam: flexing the joints and listening for abnormal joint sounds, as well as looking for swelling or heat in your cat’s limbs

You veterinarian may also perform the following tests:

  • CBC blood test(complete blood count): measures the total amount of red and white blood cells in the body
  • X-rays of the affected areas: to determine the type of arthritis
  • Joint Tap: draining and studying joint fluid

TREATMENT:

The course of treatment depends mainly on what is causing the disease.

  • Infection: antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications
  • Obesity: diet change

If treatments are not helping the pain:

  • Surgery: fragments of cartilage or bone in the joint can be removed to decrease swelling, and in extremely painful cases, the affected joint may be removed
  • Dietary supplements: stimulates new cartilage growth in the joints and can alleviate some discomfort
  • Veterinarian-developed exercise routine: too much exercise for an arthritic cat can cause severe pain; however, too little exercise will make your cat’s joints even stiffer
  • Medications: long-term steroids and anti-inflammatory use may alleviate the symptoms

PREVENTION:

There is no known prevention.

PROGNOSIS:

There is no cure for arthritis, but your veterinarian can give you treatment options so you cat can live a comfortable life. You should pay attention to your cat’s movements, as catching arthritis early leaves more options for your cat to live comfortably.