Pet Wellness Guides > 8 Signs of Arthritis in Cats - Pet Insurance Review

8 Signs of Arthritis in Cats

Posted: 11/06/2023 | BY: Jenna Bruce | Categories: Uncategorized

Getting older is not easy. Not for people and not for cats. Just as people can develop arthritis in their senior years, so can our feline friends.

Arthritis is a degenerative disease that occurs when the cartilage between bones begins to deteriorate. This causes the joints to become stiff and painful. When your cat is experiencing this stiffness and pain, they are not as likely to want to engage in their normal, everyday activities.

signs of arthritis in cats

Arthritis can make it impossible for your senior cat to climb stairs to get to their litter box, or hop onto your bed for an afternoon nap. And sometimes, when they’re really feeling bad, they may not even want to be touched or petted – even by their favorite human.

What Causes Arthritis in Cats?

In addition to normal aging, there are other factors that influence whether a cat may develop arthritis in their senior years:

  • If your cat has had an injury, such as a fracture or dislocation, or if they’ve ever had a major infection, they have a higher chance of developing arthritis where that damage or infection occurred.
  • Those cats who have been born with congenital abnormalities, like hip dysplasia, may also develop arthritis in the troubling area.
  • And finally, overweight cats are more prone to arthritis as the added pounds can put a lot of unnecessary pressure on their joints.

Cat Arthritis Symptoms

cat arthritis facts

If your cat has developed arthritis, they may begin to show signs of pain and immobility. Changes in their behavior may include:

  • Limping – although rare, some cats will have a slight limp when their joints become stiff.
  • A hesitancy to jump up onto their favorite spots like the sofa or window ledge.
  • Taking longer going up and down stairs or being unable to altogether.
  • Sleeping more than usual.
  • A slip in their normal grooming habits. Their coat may become matted in certain areas, especially near their hind legs.
  • Litter box issues. If a cat can no longer climb over the edge of the litter box, they may begin going outside of it.
  • Being more irritable – hissing from pain.
  • Longer claws from lack of post scratching and other physical activity.

Since older cats generally play less and run around less, and may also naturally sleep more, it can be hard to detect whether they may have arthritis. If you have an older cat and they haven’t been to the vet in a while, best to get them fully checked out. Your vet will be able to tell whether your cat’s joints may be bothering them.

Cat Arthritis Treatment Options

If your vet determines that your cat has arthritis, there are some treatment options. While there are no cures for arthritis, the following can give your cat relief from pain and stiffness.

Prescription Medications

One of the main ways cat arthritis is treated is by prescription medications. Your vet will likely prescribe something to help manage the pain and inflammation related to arthritis.

Prescription medications can often aggravate your cat’s GI tract so you will want to watch them closely for any negative side effects. Working with a holistic vet is often recommended to treat pet arthritis because they can talk to you about using natural remedies such as omega-3, CBD oil and other herbal supplements to manage the pain and inflammation.

It is very important to note that you should never give your cat any medications without first speaking to a trained veterinarian. Many over-the-counter medications that treat pain in humans, such as aspirin, Tylenol and Advil, can be deadly to cats.

Weight Loss and Management

weight management for cats

A crucial part of caring for cats with arthritis is managing their weight. As mentioned earlier, extra pounds on your cat’s body put a lot of stress and strain on their joints, causing even more pain.

If your cat is overweight or obese, your vet will likely recommend putting them on a weight loss plan that will probably include a special diet. Depending on the severity of your cat’s arthritis, your vet may also offer tips on having them get more exercise and movement.

While you may enjoy spoiling your cat, and they most certainly enjoy getting treats from you throughout the day, it’s really important that you help your cat stick to the diet so they can get the pain relief they need.

Alternative Treatments

There are many wonderful alternative therapies that can help your cat. Some of these include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Laser therapy

It has been found that the combination of medical and non-medical therapies can often bring the most effective pain relief for your senior cat. In addition, alternative treatments carry minimal risk to your cat. Having said this, some alternative treatment can be quite costly.

Although arthritis may slow your cat down, by following these guidelines, they can feel pain relief and begin to get back to their old self again.

Pain Relief for Your Wallet

When your cat is suffering from arthritis, it can require multiple visits to the vet to get them diagnosed and treated. And speaking of treatments, medications and alternative therapies can really add up!

A pet insurance plan lets you get the care for your cat that will offer pain relief from arthritis. An insurance plan will also act as a pain reliever for your wallet! Did you know that some pet health insurance plans can provide reimbursements for up to 90% of the vet bill?

Pet Insurance Review is committed to helping pet owners give their cats and dogs the care they deserve. We bring you only the top insurance providers in the country so you can afford to give your pet the very best.

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  1. Retrieved from the National Institutes of Health
  2. Cohan, M. VMD (2018). Bone Problems That Can Affect Your Pet. Retrieved from:
  3. How Hydrotherapy Can Benefit Your Cat (2020). Retrieved from:






The information contained on this blog is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet's health care or treatment plan.

The authors of this blog are not veterinarians and do not claim to be experts in pet health. The information provided here is based on our own experiences and research, as well as information from reputable sources. However, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information.

We encourage you to do your own research and consult with your veterinarian before making any decisions about your pet's health.

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