Most people recognize arthritis in dogs. But what about your cat? Degenerative joint disease (DJD) is a very common but under-diagnosed condition in cats. Frequency among age groups was EQUAL from cats as early as 6 months to 16 years! Signs worsen with age.
Feline DJD is difficult to detect because of the cat’s ability to hide pain as a protective mechanism. Some breeds, such as the Scottish Fold, can have congenital DJD.
The primary sign of arthritis in cats is CHANGE IN BEHAVIOR! They may become more ‘grumpy’ with a house mate or the owner or be more clingy. They may stop jumping, they may hide, vocalize more, start house soiling, or just slow down. They may not groom as much or they resist being petted like they used to. Sometimes, aggression shown at the vet’s office can be because the cat is in pain! A thorough examination and radiographs help diagnose this disease.
A great visual to see cats that have arthritis can be found by googling feline arthritis videos.
Treatment consists of many different approaches. Medications, modifying their home environment to allow easy access to favored places, acupuncture, massage therapy and weight control are all important aspects of addressing this disease in cats! Talk to your veterinarian about assessing your cat for this disease.