Since September is National Pain Awareness Month, Dr. Anna Coffin will discuss arthritis in cats. Dr. Anna says that many owners do not recognize the signs and symptoms that cats display when they are in pain. 90% of cats over the age of ten are affected by arthritis.
Cats are not small dogs and show pain and illness very differently. Cats usually don’t limp or have trouble getting up from laying down when they are in pain. Most cats in pain will show some change in behavior. It’s important to know the difference between normal old age cat behavior and behavior changes caused by pain.
Signs of arthritis in cats:
- Decreased grooming: Matted, flaky and unkempt hair coat is the most common sign the staff at Guthrie Pet Hospital see and this is usually the first clue of arthritis in cats. It is difficult for cats with arthritis in their spine to twist and turn around so that they can groom their back side. Some cats are painful in their hips and will stop cleaning their pelvis and hind legs because of pain. If your cat objects to being brushed or petted over the spine and pelvis, then your cat may be in pain.
- Change in litter box use: Cats with arthritis can have difficulty getting into the litter box and will urinate either right outside the box or in the same room where the box is located. Covered litter boxes can be worse if the top of the opening rubs on their painful back. Another common problem is the litter box being located on a different floor than where the cat hangs out. Climbing stairs may be too painful causing the cat to urinate elsewhere. Some cats with arthritis can get into the litter box but are uncomfortable squatting. This behavior may cause the cat to urinate outside the box.
- Resist being handled: If your cat resists being picked up, doesn’t like to be petted over the spine and hips or doesn’t like to be touched in specific locations, then your cat may be in pain.
Cats are very good at hiding their pain and illness, so it is important to be looking for these abnormal behaviors in your senior cat. Dr. Anna Coffin warns to not give your cat Aspirin or Tylenol as these medications can kill your cat. If your cat is showing signs of arthritis, talk with your veterinarian about treatment options or contact Guthrie Pet Hospital for an appointment today.