Cat laying on her back.

Cat’s Arthritis and Degenerative Joint Diseases

Arthritis is the term used in both human and veterinary medicine to describe any type of joint inflammation. Polyarthritis describes inflammation involving multiple joints throughout the body.

This inflammation might be accompanied by loss of cartilage or bony changes within the joint(s) in question. Causes of arthritis in cats include infections, autoimmune diseases, and trauma.

Even certain drugs, such as sulfa antibiotics, can promote joint inflammation if used indiscriminately.

Osteoarthrosis, or degenerative joint disease, describes the condition in which a cartilage defect or cartilage erosion occurs within a given joint. Although not considered a true inflammatory condition, many people use the term interchangeably with arthritis.

Osteoarthrosis often occurs as a result of a hereditary defect that may show up at any age. For instance, hip dysplasia is one of the more infamous forms of inheritable degenerative joint disease, and it’s one that most dog owners have heard of.

But osteoarthrosis doesn’t always have to be inherited; it can also occur secondary to joint injury, or it can even be a part of the normal aging process in older pets.

Regardless of the cause, the clinical signs associated with joint dis- ease are basically the same. Stiffness or lameness involving one or more limbs is often the most obvious sign of a joint problem. In many instances, cold weather and/or exercise aggravate this lameness.

Affected pets might be reluctant to play or jump, and they might become more irritable because of pain. If the hips are involved, inability to rise after lying down is a common clinical complaint.

Joints can be swollen and painful to the touch, especially with infectious or autoimmune etiologies. Depression, fever, and loss of appetite could become apparent with the latter as well.

Diagnosis of a joint disorder is based on physical palpation of the joint(s) in question, observing the abnormal gait or movement associated with the disorder, and obtaining radiographs.

Treatment approaches for arthritis and osteoarthrosis depend on the cause and severity of the condition. In recent years, new medications and innovative surgical techniques have been introduced which show promise in the treatment of joint disease and alleviation of the pain associated with it.