Arthritis is a degenerate joint disease. In simple terms it means that the cartilage around the bones has worn away causing the bones to rub together; this causes inflammation, swelling and pain. Arthritis used to be thought to be uncommon in cats, but this is mainly because cats mask weakness or pain very well and therefore we may be unaware that they are suffering.
Why do cats get arthritis?
Arthritis can result from an old injury, such as a sprain or fracture or be caused from a bite into the joint which in turn causes infection. This type of arthritis may be seen in younger cats who have suffered a trauma. Older cats are more likely to be suffering from wear and tear to the joints – cruciate ligament damage or deterioration of the cartilage. Many of the arthritis drugs (such as aspirin and phenylbutazone) given to humans and dogs are poisonous to cats so don’t be tempted to give your cat any medication you might be taking yourself.
Osteoarthritis in older cats
This is a chronic condition resulting in the degeneration of the joint which causes erosion (wearing away) of the cartilage. New bone forms around the edges of the joint; the joint swells and becomes painful, the normal cartilage that cushions and protects the joints has degenerated.
Did you know?
A cat’s skeleton has about 10% more bones than a human body. The skeleton of a feline needs to be strong and flexible but also light.
The spine – spondylosis
Spondylosis can be due to an excess of vitamin A in the diet (an all liver diet can be a cause as liver is very high in Vitamin A). With more knowledge and a wide variety of quality cat foods this is now rarely seen.
Diagnosis of spondylosis
An x-ray can show if there are bony lesions visible; these lesions will be permanent and require treatment. Anti- inflammatory medication and pain relief can be prescribed by your vet.
How can I tell if my cat has arthritis?
Symptoms of arthritis in cats:
- Spending more time laying down and sleeping. Being less active.
- Not being able to jump or climb up stairs
- Lameness or limping after sleeping,
- Difficulty using a litter tray
- Stiffness or swollen joints
- Not playing as much
- Not interacting with the family as much
- Decreased flexibility
- Less agile
- Stiff or less active in colder and wetter weather
Arthritis is a progressive and painful condition and can seriously affect your cat’s quality of life.
If you think your cat may have arthritis you should seek advice from your vet.
Diagnosis of arthritis in cats
- Your vet can observe your cat’s movements and examine the cat for flexibility. By manipulating the joints, the vet can detect any stiffness or rigidity
- Analysis of samples taken from the affected joints
- Blood sampling
Treatment for arthritis in cats
- Pain relief
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Supplements – for example glucosamine
- Maintaining a healthy weight
Metacam (meloxicam) is a licenced treatment for pain relief in cats that your vet can prescribe for chronic pain.
Hydrotherapy and gentle massage may help to keep your cats’ joints more mobile.
Acupuncture is a complementary treatment that may be of help if your cat is amenable to handling and would tolerate the treatment.
This is a product that your vet can inject into the painful joints to help relieve arthritis.
Always seek advice from your vet as to the best way to treat your cat.
Gentle exercise can also help to keep the joints mobile.
- Glucosamine and chondroitin
- Essential fatty acids
The above is usually given in combination, for example, Seraquin is a supplement suitable for cats which can be crumbled into food or hidden in treats; it is chewable and has a chicken flavour.
How to make a cat with arthritis more comfortable
Simple steps can help to make life easier and more comfortable for your feline friend.
- Make sure that your cat has a comfortable bed or soft blanket in a position which is easily reachable to the cat. The cat also needs to feel safe so the ‘igloo’ style bed is ideal for a cat with painful joints as the cat can curl up inside and feel comfy and secure.
- Ensure that food and water are easy to access.
- If you provide a litter tray for your cat, make sure it has shallow sides or side so that the cat can use it without causing pain.
- Cold, damp weather can make the chronic pain worse so make sure your pet is kept nice and warm.
- Check that your cat can use the cat flap without difficulty – you may need to add a little step if it seems hard for your cat to manoeuvre.
- If your cat has a special place that it likes but cannot get to (due to not being able to jump) consider providing a ramp for the cat to walk up.
- Give your cat a gentle massage if he or she is happy to be handled.
- Groom your pet as a cat with painful joints may find this difficult to do for themselves.
- Keep your cat a healthy weight to prevent undue strain on the joints. Your vet can weigh your cat and advise if the cat needs to lose weight or if indeed your cat is a good, healthy weight to be maintained. Just as with people being overweight can make the symptoms worse.
Older cats (senior cats) with arthritis
More than 80% of elderly cats (over the age of 10 years) and 90% of cats over the age of 12 years old will have some level of osteoarthritis. If you think that your cat is just getting slower and sleeping more due to age, then it may be that your cat has chronic pain due to arthritis. Consider taking your cat to the vet to have him or her checked.
The hips, shoulders, spine and elbows are most likely to be affected by wear and tear and degeneration of the cartilage between the joints. This means that the bones rub together causing pain, swelling and stiffness.
Symptoms of arthritis in older cats
- More time sleeping, resting and less active
- Stiffness, lameness
- Inability to jump or climb
- Not grooming or overgrooming the affected joint
- Less interaction
- Irritable when petted or handled
With less activity, some cats may develop overgrown claws so do check your cat, especially if you have an indoor cat.
Keep your cat comfortable, at a healthy weight, adapt his surroundings to suit his mobility and seek medical help from your vet to alleviate the pain of arthritic joints and ease inflammation. Our cats are living longer and there is much we can do to ensure that they have a good quality of life in their senior years.
Which breeds of cat are more prone to get arthritis?
- Devon Rex
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Can your cat learn a new name?
Cats can be taught and learn a new name with simple and quick training. Some cats learn a new name quickly, whilst others may take a couple of weeks to respond to their new name. It is important for your cat to learn its new name so that you can call the cat in for feeding or for bedtime. If you are worried about the weather or other circumstances (fireworks, loose dogs for instance) it is very helpful for your cat’s safety that you can call your cat home.
How to teach your cat a new name
- Make sure everyone uses the same name when talking to your cat. Do not use variations or nicknames as this could confuse the cat.
- Say the name when you are petting or grooming your cat in a nice reassuring voice.
- When your cat is looking at you call the name and offer a treat and keep doing this over several days or longer if the cat needs it.
- Always reward the cat when he or she responds to the new name.
- When you feed the cat repeat the name several times.
- When the cat sits with you repeat their name whilst stroking your cat.
- Start increasing the distance from where you call your cat and reward the cat when she or he comes to you.
- Make sure that you only call your cat for positive things (not for going to the vets or taking medication or having flea treatment applied). The cat needs to know that nothing scary will happen when he or she is called, only good things.
- Build up to calling your cat from different rooms and then from outside if your cat has access to the outdoors.
- Do not try to train your cat if the cat is playing or sleeping as they will not be ready to respond to you.
- Do not try long training sessions, keep it short.
Cats have good memories and with repeated short training will quickly pick up their new name. Some cats learn super quickly and others take a bit longer – just like people vary in their ability to learn.
As your cat gets better at responding to his or her new name cut back the treats and reward your cat when they respond or return to you quickly. This will reinforce a quick comeback from your cat.
Teaching a new kitten their name
Kittens will take longer to learn their name than adult cats as their brain is still developing.
Use the same techniques as above but keep the sessions very short. Repeat the sessions several times a day, every day.
Remember to reward the kitten for looking at you to start with and then coming towards you and then progress to longer distances.
Cats have a great capacity to learn and remember but us cats concentrate on what is important to us. Rewards will give your cat a reason to learn a new name or skill. Positive reinforcement is the best tool for learning.
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How does your cat view the world, and can your cat see in colour?
Until recently it was thought that cats did not see colours and were ‘colour blind’. Cats do not see in the same way as dogs, who can see only blue and yellow colours (hues). Indeed, your cat does not see colours in the same way that you do. However, cats have been trained to distinguish between colours and it was shown that the cats were able to tell the difference between red and blue, red and green, blue and yellow and red, yellow and green from grey. Cats do see in colour.
Test your cat to see if he or she can tell the difference between the primary colours.
You will need three identical objects (the same size and shape, but one in red, one in blue and one in yellow). A box is a good object to use. Keep the boxes in the same location for a week. To start the training show your cat that there is a favourite treat in one box (choose red or blue colour) and over a 5 days keep putting the treat in there and show and help your cat to retrieve the treat. After 5 days move the order of the boxes (but leave them in the same place). Does your cat go the correct colour box? This is fun to do especially if you have more than one cat. Some cats are quicker than others so if your cat does not pick the correct box go back to the initial training and then repeat the test. Ask your friends to do the same with their cats and compare results.
Why red or blue? Cats can distinguish red and blue more easily than yellow.
How does a cat’s eye work?
Let’s look at the cat’s eye and the structure of the feline eye.
Ocular abilities in cats – why your cat is so good at seeing in the dark
Cats have specialised eyes, being well adapted to their hunting requirements. Cats can see much better in dim light than people, a skill important for night hunting. This enhanced night vision is because the cat’s eye has firstly more rods than in a human eye, but fewer cones. Rods and cones are receptor cells in the retina of the eye, having more rods gives better vision at night although having fewer cones means the image is less sharp. The shape of the reflector cells gives the nerve cells their names – rods and cones.
Why do my cats’ eyes glow in the dark?
In the cat’s eyes is a special light-conserving unit called the ‘tapetum lucidum’. This reflects any light which is not absorbed as it passes through the retina. This mechanism is also why your cat’s eyes glow in the dark – the light hits the cat’s eyes at a certain angle and the cat’s eyes appear to glow in the dark. This ‘glow’ will happen when the cat’s pupil is at its widest.
Cats eyes versus human eyes
Cats and humans both have the same type of colour-sensitive cone nerve cells in their eyes. People have about ten times more than cats do – so humans can identify many more subtle shades and colour variations (hues) than cats can.
Humans have better colour vision, although cats do have better colour vision than dogs.
Cats have more rod nerve cells in their eyes and have better sensitivity in dim light.
Cats have a specialised mechanism to reflect more light into the eye. Cats see better in the dark (we all knew that!)
Cats have binocular vision. This means that parts of the field of vision of each eye overlap. Binocular vision is essential for hunting so that the cat can judge distance, depth and size. In simple terms, the cat has three- dimensional vision. Humans also have binocular vision.
Cats are also much more near-sighted than people so humans can see much better at seeing detail close to them. A cat’s vision will be much blurrier when looking at objects very close to them. Cats, however, are much better at spotting movement at a close range – think about when you play with your cat and how quick they are to spot a flick or swish of a cat toy. It also explains why your cat may not see something very close to his or her face.
Cats can see best at around 20 feet away – essential to spot prey. Objects in the distance appear blurry around the edges to cats, helping them focus on the important task of finding prey.
Cat’s eyes are less forward-facing and spaced more widely than in humans, this gives the cat a wider range of view, useful for spotting predators. People have a narrower field of vision, but we are better at judging distance and depth.
The cat’s pupil can dilate and change in size dramatically, much more than in humans. This is all about catching as much light as possible. Cats see best at dusk and at dawn – when hunting cats are generally most successful.
Which eyesight is better cat or human?
A cat needs a wide range of vision and better night vision.
Humans need to be able to distinguish between tiny details and be able to judge height, distance and depth accurately. We need to be able to see a wide variety of colour and shades.
We have both adapted to our needs; eyesight is a specialised trait in both cats and humans.
Why do Siamese cats have poorer vision than other cats?
The Siamese cat has a gene which causes abnormal nerve connections between the brain and the eyes. This means that Siamese cats have less developed three-dimensional vision.
What is cat (feline) asthma?
Feline asthma is an immunity-related disease and can be triggered by an allergy (environmental or food) or brought on by stress.
It is an allergic respiratory condition which causes chronic inflammation of the small passageways in the lungs (bronchioles) leading to the tightening of the bronchioles causing breathing difficulties.
Symptoms of cat asthma include wheezing, difficulty or laboured breathing and a persistent cough. A cough is a reflex action, triggering the forcing out of air from the chest. Inflammation of the lungs and larynx results in the cat coughing.
It is incurable but the condition is manageable with the right care and medication and cats with the condition normally lead happy and active lives.
What causes asthma in cats?
Asthma in cats is an immunity-related condition and attacks can often be brought on by an allergy or stress. Possible triggers include pollen, grass, dust mites, tobacco smoke, cat litter, candles, wax melts, cleaning products, mould spores, dyes, smoke from fireplaces, and reactions to some foods – very similar to humans.
This allergic respiratory response often develops between the ages of two and eight years old, with slightly more female cats diagnosed than males; it is less common in older cats. The average age of diagnosis of asthma in cats is between 4 and 5 years old. It is thought that between 1 – 5% of cats suffer from asthma and related respiratory diseases.
What are the symptoms of feline (cat) asthma?
- Wheezing or blue lips and gums
- Fast, shallow or difficulty breathing
- A persistent cough (sometimes with frothy mucus)
- Gagging (like with a hairball)
- Difficulty breathing (dyspnoea) after exertion
- Mouth breathing
- Neck held upwards and gasping for breath
- Overall weakness and lethargy (no energy)
- Gurgling in the cat’s throat
- Increased swallowing
What to do if your cats shows symptoms of asthma
If your cat shows any of the symptoms above, even if they come and go this could be an indication that your cat may have asthma or another respiratory condition; you should speak to your vet and get specialist advice.
Any cough or wheezing is a serious health issue, it happens because the lungs are inflamed and irritated and are therefore at risk of developing permanent scars on them, causing long-term damage to the small airways.
Asthma can be a life-threatening, causing constriction and obstruction of the airways just as in humans.
When resting or sleeping a cat will normally take in 24 to 30 breaths per minute – anything over 40 may need medical attention (cats may breathe quicker when excited, after exertion or purring). There are apps you can download onto your phone to monitor your cat’s breathing rate. This is also helpful if your cats suffers from heart disease. A cat’s normal breathing or respiratory rate can range from 10 – 30 breaths per minute depending upon, age, breed and state of health.
Diagnosing feline/ cat asthma
There is no definitive test to accurately diagnose asthma. Other conditions which have similar symptoms will initially need to be ruled out, including heart disease, respiratory infections such as Laryngitis, bronchitis and tracheitis and also heart and lungworm. (Lungworm is a common parasite that the cat can get from eating birds or rodents which are infested with this parasite; symptoms include a dry persistent cough.)
Your vet will listen to your cat’s chest with a stethoscope and may sometimes take a blood test to look for a high concentration of white blood cells, which can be linked to the condition as this a marker for an allergic reaction. Radiographs (X-rays) may also help with the diagnosis, a CT scan is another option your vet may explore in finding a diagnosis.
If the blood test suggests your cat could be suffering from asthma, a chest X-ray can then be used to look at the lungs – although it isn’t always possible to obtain an X-ray if your pet is having a bad attack. Trying to restrain your cat or give sedation could be very dangerous for them and therefore is not a viable option until the cat is breathing more normally. Your vet can advise you on the best course of action as to whether treatment should be given or if diagnostic tests should be attempted. In the early stages of the disease, an x-ray may show up as normal.
There is also a test called Bronchoalveolar Lavage (BAL), which involves taking a mucus sample under anaesthetic from the small airways and studying it under a microscope to look for a specific type of white blood cell.
Your cat may also be prescribed a course of corticosteroids and bronchodilators to see if the symptoms clear up, which if they do, also suggest the presence of feline asthma. Your vet will make a judgement after examining your cat and carrying out the tests most deemed to be appropriate. When a conclusion has been reached treatment can be prescribed to help keep your cat healthy and enjoy a good quality of life.
What are the signs of a feline/ cat asthma attack?
During a minor attack, your cat will normally start coughing and struggle to stop. They are likely to hold their neck out straight and keep their head close to the ground while coughing, and you may be able to hear wheezing.
Asthma causes spasms in the bronchi which in turn leads to swelling in the lining of the airways.
When your cat is having a full-blown asthma attack breathing becomes difficult and your cat’s sides will very visibly heave in and out. They will be unable to do anything else, and in extreme cases can start panting, look frightened and start coughing up mucus as well as drooling. If this happens it’s very important to call the vet right away.
What should I do if my cat has an asthma attack?
If your cat has an attack keep calm, give any medication prescribed by your vet and ensure your cat is kept in a nice cool area with good ventilation; try to reassure your cat.
If your cat is having a severe attack, then contact your vet straight away.
If you need to drive your cat to the surgery, make sure your car is well ventilated, leave the window open to let in plenty of fresh air.
Your cat will be very frightened so try not to add to the stress.
Treatment for feline/ cat asthma
There are two main types of treatment to manage asthma in cats – anti-inflammatory drugs such as corticosteroids to reduce the inflammation which leads to the symptoms, and bronchodilator medication which helps to widen a feline’s air passage when needed. Antihistamine drugs may also be used when cats haven’t responded to other treatments.
Medication is often administered through an inhaler but can also be given in tablet or injection form. If an inhaler is recommended then make sure you are clear on how to use it. Inhalers for cats are different from human inhalers – you cannot tell a cat to inhale deeply!
Can asthma in cats be prevented?
With a little care and planning some of the triggers for an asthma attack can be avoided:
- Do not smoke around your pet
- Don’t spray cleaning products, perfumes, air fresheners or any aerosol products as they can worsen the condition
- Do not use dusty types or scented cat litters
- Stress can bring on attacks so try to keep your cat relaxed (if there are other pets in your home make sure your cat has a safe place to hide)
If your cat is overweight this can make the symptoms worse so keep your cat a healthy weight (ask your vet to advise you).
Take a video on your phone to show the vet (it may be upsetting for you, but it will help the vet prescribe the best medication).
Keep a diary of episodes/ attacks and how bad they were to try and build up a picture of what is causing the attacks (triggers).
Remember your cat can have a happy and normal life!
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11 reasons why your cat may be aggressive:
Fear – your cat may be frightened (you can recognise fear by observing if the ears are held back, if the pupils are dilated, the body may be crouched with the tail tucked underneath).
Pain – your cat may be in pain (liver or kidney disorders, hormonal problems, arthritis, dental decay, abscesses, bite wounds, infections and high blood pressure can all be medical causes of aggressive behaviour).
Possessive – of food or toys or even of a family member.
Territorial – cats are territorial and will defend their territory and you! If you have a new partner your cat may display hissing, staring and growling to show his or her ownership.
Competitive – if you have more than one cat or your cat is in competition with a family member.
Maternal – mothers with kittens will be on guard and display aggressive behaviour if they feel threatened or sense danger.
Dominance – one cat may behave aggressively to show dominance over other family cats or intruders (or visiting pets of friends).
Play – your cat may get over stimulated when playing and revert to aggressive hunting behaviour.
Predatory – if your cats is in hunting mode he or she may show aggressive tendencies to others.
Pathophysiological – due to an injury or undiagnosed cause or in older cats dementia can cause aggression as the cat becomes disorientated.
Redirected aggression – when your cat is frustrated or agitated then turns on you.
Checklist to help identify causes of aggression in your cat
If your cat is behaving out of character a trip to your vet can help allay any fear that your cat is unwell or in pain.
- Any recent changes to your home (building works or re-decoration) may upset your cat.
- Has a family member been absent – cats miss people and may become anxious?
- A tomcat will benefit from castration to solve any aggressive tendencies.
- Do you have a new pet? Bringing a new cat or dog into your home could trigger aggressive behaviour as your cat tries to make sure the new arrival understands the pecking order.
- If your cat is getting agitated by watching another cat or dog outside try blocking the view (closing the curtains or blinds) and allowing the cat to calm down. They may be frustrated as they cannot get to this other animal.
Why is my cat aggressive towards my new partner?
If your cat is displaying attacking behaviour towards your new girl or boyfriend it is probably because your cat is fearful, anxious or confused by the new addition to the household.
Strategies to help to build a bond between your cat and your new partner
- Ask your partner not to force their attention on the cat
- Tell your partner not to stare at the cat (this can be perceived by your cat as aggressive and challenging behaviour)
- Suggest to your partner that they feed the cat and give any treats (positive reinforcement of good associations each time the cat is fed)
- Go slowly and at the cat’s pace with all interactions and gradually encourage your partner to play with the cat to help with the bonding process
- Patience usually pays off – if your partner is kind the cat will usually start to accept him or her
- Keep to the usual routines to reassure your cat that everything else in their world is stable
Never punish your cat; look for ways to help your cat become happy, relaxed and at ease with everyone in your household.
Definition of ‘cat’.
A cat is a small domesticated mammal kept as a pet and also found as feral (wild) in the countryside. A cat has soft fur, four legs and a tail and is a predatory animal catching mice and other small creatures.
‘Cat’ name in different European countries
There are many similar variations of the name ‘cat’ for instance:
There are many other slight variations of the name ‘cat’ used throughout Europe.
In Turkey the word for cat is ‘kedi’ which may be where our word ‘kitty’ is derived from.
The word ‘puss’ or ‘pussy’ is linked back to the Egyptian cat goddess ‘Pasht’.
It is widely believed that the Egyptians domesticated cats descended from the North African wild cat (Felix Lybica).
‘Cat’ refers to domesticated felines and also wild cats such as lions, tigers, panthers, leopards and forest cats.
Cats do have lips
Our feline friends do indeed have lips. As mammals, they are born with the ability to suck or suckle (this is known as a primary reflex). This is instinctive behaviour and does not need to be learned.
The lips tend to be small and may be hidden with fur. The bottom lip is fuller, whilst the top lip is quite thin and not clearly visible. The lips contain a scent gland; this gland is used for marking territory. Your cat may also rub against you to mark you as his or her own. If you bring something new into to your home your cat will rub against it and leave it’s scent on the new object.
If a cat has a swollen lip he or she may have been stung by an insect or have rubbed against a plant causing an allergic reaction.
The colour of cat lips
White and lighter coloured cats, including ginger cats tend to have pink lips. Black, grey and tabby cats generally have black lips, although some cats may have lips which are pink and black (common in tortoiseshell cats).
The pink lower lip of this cat is clearly seen, whilst the thinner upper lip is covered in fur.
Does your cat have extra-sensory powers?
Would most cats owners’ answer ‘yes’?
Everything is calm and quiet, there is no noise or movement yet your cat or kitty raises it’s hackles. The term ‘hackles’ means to have the back arched, fur standing up, ears held back, eyes with the pupils dilated, tail twitching and possibly matched with hissing. The cat is in extra-sensory perception arousal, listening, detecting smells and other signals which we are not aware of. Cats can be aware of approaching danger (such as storms, vibrations – including volcanic eruptions, or approaching animals or strangers). Our cats are simply using their finely tuned senses to monitor their surroundings. Cats have amazing brains and intelligence; they may not be ‘mystic’ or have ESP but they are truly astonishing.
In Medieval times cats were linked to witchcraft and were very misunderstood. Some people believed that witches could turn themselves into cats. There are old-wives tales of cats smothering babies and yet a cat would not deliberately harm a baby; they are naturally curious and may want to check out the new arrival to the family. Black cats have been thought to be unlucky and still to this day black cats are harder to re-home than other types of cat. Black cats are magnificent and are as loving as any other type of cat.
Cats have well-developed senses, impressive homing abilities and should never be underestimated.
Charlie ShortTail has a scary encounter with “the Horrid Creature”.
I was out for a nice, relaxing evening stroll and then I saw it, the horrid creature.🙀
It was smelly, hairy and it had slobber drooling from it’s mouth.
I cringed, drew back and felt the fur on my back rise and bristle. My tiny (but very cute) tail bushed up in fear.
It was the man next door!
I ran quickly to hide under the bushes. Lando was nowhere to be seen. He’s supposed to be on guard.
The creature’s big feet thumped along the path to Mama’s house; the man rang the door bell. What could he want? I hoped I could sneak into the shadows and climb over the wall to safety. With a swift jump I was gone! I couldn’t risk him seeing me. What if he tried to touch me?
The creature spoke in a loud, deep voice but I couldn’t understand what the man was saying.
It got worse, the ‘Dad’ opened the door and let the horrid creature into Mama’s house.
The creatures clothes were tatty, dirty, smelly and oily. He had huge, scary boots. What could he possibly want?
I leapt quickly over the side roof, and ran along the hedges to the back garden to warn Lando.
This was a disaster. When would it be safe to go home?
Mama came into the garden and called us. “Charlie”, “Lando” she called; we crept out of the thick bushes with trepidation.
“What is wrong?” She asked. We looked towards the house…. Mama knows we are scared of him.
Oh! Him, he has just bought some eggs for us … “come in you two”.
I let Mama carry me, and Lando walked close to Mama.
Always trust your instincts me and Lando think. We don’t trust him….What do you think?
Read about Charlie’s awful tar episode…