Helping Your Arthritic Cat

Arthritis is a joint problem that can reduce a cat’s mobility and cause severe, chronic pain. You can improve life for your arthritic cat by doing the following:

  • Help your cat get or stay slim so that unnecessary weight doesn’t increase the load on your cat’s joints, resulting in more pain and inflammation. Ask your veterinarian to recommend an exercise program and a diet that are appropriate for your cat.
  • Because arthritis is aggravated by the cold and damp, keep your cat warm and dry. Padded cat beds can help.  
  • Apply warm compresses to soothe your cat’s affected joints. Make sure the compress is not too hot, which can burn the skin.
  • Learn how massage can increase your cat’s flexibility, circulation, and sense of well-being. Professional animal massage therapists are available.
  • Ask your veterinarian about medication to help manage your cat’s arthritis. Never give your cat a drug without your veterinarian’s recommendation. Many human and canine pain relievers are poisonous to cats. Your veterinarian may prescribe the following:
    • Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which can reduce the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.
    • Corticosteroids, which can suppress arthritis-associated inflammation for short periods of time.
    • Disease-modifying osteoarthritis drugs (DMOADs), which can be an important part of managing arthritis.
  • Ask your veterinarian about glucosamine, chondroitin, and other joint supplements that can be used to help manage arthritis in animals.
  • Consider acupuncture for your cat. This procedure is painless and has shown some success in animals.
  • Consider surgery for advanced cases of feline arthritis. Your veterinarian can tell you more.
  • Provide your cat with a low-stress environment, plenty of affection, and aids such as:
    • Slip-free flooring
    • Soft bedding
    • Ramps (instead of steps)
    • Help with grooming (regular brushing)
  • Caution: Many human and canine pain relievers are poisonous to cats.