Signs & Symptoms of Feline Arthritis

Cats are known to hide any symptoms of pain or discomfort, including signs associated with arthritis, so it is often difficult to recognize the condition. However, as a pet owner, there are a few signs that may indicate your feline companion is suffering in silence:

  • A marked stiffness in the legs, particularly after sleeping/resting
  • A reduced level of mobility and activity
  • Avoiding interaction with people and/or other animals
  • Change in grooming habits
  • Coat has a matted or scruffy appearance
  • Difficulty using the litter box
  • Displaying a change in behavior (irritability when handled or stroked)
  • Experiences difficulty going up or down stairs
  • Increased time spent sleeping/napping
  • Isolation or spending more time alone
  • Jumps up to lower surfaces than in the past; jumping up/down less frequently
  • Lack of socialization or reduction in socializing with family & other pets
  • Less frequently found exploring or hunting outdoors (if an outdoor cat)
  • May be found ‘overgrooming’ or excessively licking at painful joints
  • Occasional bouts of lameness or inability to walk regularly
  • Overgrown claws due to lack of activity; a reduction in sharpening of claws on scratching post, furniture etc.
  • Reluctance, hesitance or refusal to jump up or down
  • Showing signs of irritability around other animals
  • Sleeping in sites that are more easily accessible (i.e., lower to the ground)

How to Create a Comfortable Environment for your Cat with Arthritis

  • Place your cat’s bed in easily-accessible, quiet, and warm areas
  • Use ramps where possible, such as steps up to your bed, a favorite windowsill or other sites that require climbing
  • In homes with cat-door entries: be sure that it is easy to enter so that your pet doesn’t need to exert excessive force
  • Keep litter boxes conveniently located; use boxes with a low side for easy access
  • Be sure your cat’s food and water bowls are easily accessible
  • Keep everything at one level if possible – make sure your cat doesn’t have to travel up or down stairs to access food, water, or his litter box
  • Spend time cleaning and grooming your cat when possible, as it is difficult for cats with arthritis to do so on their own
  • Remember: overgrown claws require regular trimming; if you are uncomfortable doing so, be sure to bring your cat to a groomer or animal clinic