Jennifer Hennessey 
DVM, CVJ, Animal ER of Northwest Houston

Tabby cat and vetAbracadabra! Our frisky felines are great masters of disguise. Cats cleverly hide ailments and conditions, presenting the illusion of a picture of health and this may not always be the case. Today, as many as one out of every three cats are suffering silently from the painful condition of arthritis. Often overlooked and misinterpreted, arthritis can remain hidden from many feline families and develop without any recognition.

Arthritis is characterized by inflammation and pain at the boney “hinges” called joints. Much like us, cats with aching joints can walk and jump normally, although they will modify their activity to accommodate for discomfort. The inflammation and pain associated with arthritis can be missed by many cat owners and is simply lumped into the mistaken assumption that “Fluffy is just getting old”. Do you know if your little Houdini is walking around every day with aching joints and hiding a level of burden from arthritis pain? Be aware and watch for activities such as using furniture to help get up on counters and other higher furniture, jumping from one item to another, as well as dismounting in a step wise fashion. Also, you may catch your feline acting tired, laying around more or less interested in playful activities. These symptoms can correlate with other underlying illnesses and it is important to seek a veterinary evaluation if these types of things are noticed. Over time, joint disease will advance, interrupting your feline’s mobility and activities. A full veterinary medical exam will allow for joint and muscle palpation as well as the opportunity for diagnostic tests, including X-ray imaging. This could lead to an earlier diagnosis of arthritis and possible treatment plans.While there is no magic wand to prevent or heal your feline of underlying joint arthritis, many measures can be used to boost the comfort and quality of living of your little Felix and Fluffy. Common methods of joint health management include things like controlling obesity, feeding supplements that target joint comfort as well as administering medications for joint inflammation and pain relief. Keeping your feline active throughout his nine lives should involve your veterinarian, who will have a variety of options in their bag of tricks.

Don’t fall for the routine act your kitty is showing you! He or she may need help and you can contact your veterinarian to find out what can be conjured up in way of evaluation and care. While no disappearing act, arthritis requires more than a little hocus pocus, but can be safely managed to keep your little magician on top of his game.