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7 Signs That Your Cat Might Have Arthritis

Cats may try to hide their arthritis pain.

Arthritis isn't just a condition suffered by people; cats can develop it, too. While it seems to be that cats are a bit more resistant to the effects of joint degeneration than dogs, older cats can still suffer from it, and it can decrease their quality of life.

Cats don't usually cry when they're in pain, and that can confuse some owners. Our feline companions are often stoic, and they may try to hide their pain from us, so it's important to know how to decode their behaviors. Here, we explore some of the signs to watch for that might indicate your cat has arthritis.

Reluctance to Jump on Things Anymore

If your cat used to love jumping up on counters, tables, windowsills, and the back of the couch but now you never see her in those spots, or you notice that she uses other, lower objects to make her way more slowly up there, she might be suffering from joint pain. Many owners notice that their cat no longer jumps onto the bed to sleep with them or is more reluctant to climb up onto their lap from the floor.

Limping or Gait Change

Many cats with arthritis do not develop a limp, but some do, and sometimes you can discern a more subtle change in gait. Slower, stiffer, less fluid movements than she used to have might indicate that your cat has joint pain.

Loss of Muscle on Thighs

As a cat's arthritis progresses, she doesn't use her joints as much, trying to avoid pain, and the muscles in her legs can become smaller as a result. You might only notice this in the later stages of arthritis because the change can be subtle and hard to discern if you are looking at your cat every day.

Trouble Getting up from Lying Down

A cat with arthritis might experience stiffer, sorer joints after she's been resting for a while. That can lead to her being slow and awkward to rise from that position.

Decreased Interest in Playing with Toys

Cats with joint pain might wish to play normally with their wand and throw toys, but the fear of pain might keep them from doing so. Decreased interest in play as a cat ages is often thought to be normal, but there is usually a reason, such as arthritis, for it to develop.

Accidents Outside of the Litter Box

Cats that have litter boxes with high sides might avoid getting into them to eliminate because it hurts their joints to climb in and out. An older cat that suddenly begins urinating or defecating outside of the litter box might have arthritis.

Anger at Being Touched Certain Places

If your cat never minded having her hips, legs, back, or neck touched before but is suddenly hissing or moving away when your hand strays to certain spots, arthritis might be the culprit.

All of the above behaviors can indicate issues other than arthritis, as well, so if you notice any of them, be sure to take your cat to the veterinarian to determine the cause. Remember, never give your cat any medications without first talking to your veterinarian; many medications commonly used for human pain are deadly to cats.

You can learn more, including how feline arthritis is treated, here: "Arthritis in Cats."

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