A recent study shows that arthritis in cats is more common than previously thought. As in dogs, arthritis in cats is a degenerative joint disease in which the cartilage in the joints deteriorates steadily. One or more joints may be damaged.
Arthritis in cats may be classified as:
The first is a typical condition that damages the cartilage and it occurs with age. It affects the gait of the animal and being a painful condition, changes the behavior of the animal.
In this regard, it is important to remember that arthritic damage is much more pronounced in big animals like a big dog. The cat being small is not overly affected by arthritis.
Many factors contribute to arthritis in animals.
Congenital: The first and the most prominent cause of arthritis is the fact that the animal has inherited certain tendencies that make it vulnerable to joint diseases.
Certain breeds like the Burmese cats have the inherent tendency to develop osteoarthritis. Purebred breeds are also at an added risk of developing arthritis.
Age: Age is another contributing factor. As animals grow old, there is a long history of overuse and aging. This is why it is called a degenerative condition.
Weight: These days, many animals suffer from being overweight. Abnormal weight leads to repetitive grinding of bones along with increased wear and tear.
It follows naturally that losing weight can reduce the stress on these joints.
Trauma: Injury and trauma trigger the release of certain enzymes and biochemicals in huge quantities that break down the tissues in the joints.
Infective arthritis is manifested as intense pain making the animals almost lame in the leg. The penetration of an object like nails could cause the problems.
Alternatively, infection may spread through the attack of certain organisms that travel through the blood.
Lastly, autoimmune arthritis is another form of arthritis that can cause intense inflammation in the synovial membranes. Symptoms include intense pain, heat and swelling. It could affect several joints at the same time.
Although the term autoimmune suggests that this could be a case of the body attacking itself, the exact cause of this form of arthritis in cats is unknown.
The kind of treatment adopted depends on the causes of arthritis. There are several options but the underlying cause has to be established before a mode of therapy is decided.
Several kinds of medicines are available. Surgery may also be an option in severe cases.