As cats get older, just like humans and other species, they go through physiological and anatomical changes. One of these common changes is joint pain and potential arthritis, while this is something that can not be reversed, it can be successfully managed and due to the progressions in veterinary medicine it can be done so in a number of ways.
It is important to remember that cats are very good at hiding pain and subtle behaviour changes may indicate something is not right. Some signs are listed below, however please always consult your vet if you are concerned, it is also a good idea to take older animals for 6 monthly health checks so they can have a full veterinary examination.
Signs of pain in a cat can include:
Sleeping more than usual
Reluctant to socialise
Failing to use the litter tray / certain types of litter (when has never been as issue before)
Over grooming in a particular area
Increased anxiety or fear
Some cats will even purr when they are in pain
Caring for a cat with joint pain
There are many ways you can help your cat if they are in pain. Of course, the most important is taking your cat to a vet so he/she can be thoroughly examined and a correct course of management can be decided.
There are a few other things that you can do at home which will help make your cat more comfortable:
Raising food and water bowls off the ground will help to ease any discomfort in your cat’s joints. Cats also feel more secure eating on higher surfaces such as windowsills so it is a good idea to ensure there are steps or a ramp so they can comfortably reach this.
Using a maze feeder encourages your cat to move gently when eating and helps to stimulate their brain. It is also a good idea to feed you cat ‘little and often’.
Use larger litter trays that have a lower side so cats can access these easily. You may also need to change the litter as they get older, occasionally some older cats may find some hard litters uncomfortable to pass motions on and will therefore often avoid using the tray.
Ensure your cat’s bed is easy to get in and out of, and if possible chose a bed that has higher sides or a cover so your cat can have privacy. It is also important that the bed is large enough for your cat to stretch out fully as it may be uncomfortable for them to curl up. Cats that are moving less also get cold quicker so place the bed in a warm place.
Please remember being ‘old or older’ is not a condition and not a reason not to take your cat to see a Veterinary Surgeon. Older cats love nothing more than a warm spot to sleep and some extra attention, be sure they still receive their regular veterinary checks to ensure you are doing your part to keep them happy and healthy through their golden years.
You may also find useful: Caring for your senior cat