Diagnosing Joint Stiffness in Cats

Joint stiffness is a strong indicator of joint problems and arthritis in cats. Although all breeds are susceptible to joint disease, young pets and middle-aged male felines are at greater risk of developing a condition called polyarthritis. This condition is known to affect numerous joints in the cat’s body. While there are a few things that pet owners and vets can do to bring relief from the symptoms of polyarthritis, joint stiffness progresses over a period of time.

However, it’s important to find out the real cause of joint stiffness in cats because the stiffness isn’t a condition in itself, but it’s a symptom of some underling joint or bone disease.

Types of Joint Conditions in Cats

Diagnosis of Joint Conditions

If your pet experiences joint stiffness or shows signs of inability to climb stairs or walk, it’s important to seek medical help at the earliest. This is especially true for cats suffering from arthritis, because the condition worsens rapidly. Prompt diagnosis is beneficial because the treatment can commence when the condition is still in its early stage. The vet will make note of the physical symptoms of joint problems and conduct several tests to identify the underlying cause. After the vet determines which joint is affected, x-rays and ultrasounds will be performed to find out if there are signs of bone degeneration, wear and tear of cartilage or fractures.

The vet may also collect some of the synovial fluid present in the affected joint and send it for analysis to a laboratory. Apart from this, blood tests may be performed to rule out any infections. Once the cause of the joint problem is identified, the vet will be able to determine the best treatment option that will bring relief to the cat.

Treatment of Joint Stiffness

In order to treat joint stiffness, the vet will have to cure the cat from his underlying disorder. As a general guideline, most pets are given nutrient supplements that contain Glucosamine and Chondroitin. While these supplements work effectively on most pets, few cats may not respond positively. Their condition may remain the same or even deteriorate. Glucosamine and Chondroitin contain a few ingredients that promote joint health and repair joint damage. If your pet responds favorably to the supplementation, it will be necessary to administer these supplements to him, for life, because the symptoms of joint stiffness, pain and swelling return once these supplements are discontinued.

Surgical intervention may be necessary in some cases of joint disease. However, these surgeries are performed only when they’re absolutely necessary. As a pet owner, you need to work with your vet to determine the best treatment option for your cat. Since surgical procedures are expensive, discuss with your vet all the other treatment options before going ahead with the surgery.

Tips for Pet Owners

Cats that suffer from joint stiffness require extra help and care. Make sure that the cat’s litter box is easily accessible and that your pet can enter and exit the box without straining. You could also buy comfortable bedding to relieve the pressure exerted on your cat’s joints when he sleeps. Although joints supplements are recommended, you should also take your pet on short walks to keep his joints supple. Avoid rough play with your pet and keep him in a comfortable and stress free environment.

Although most joint conditions degrade over a period of time, your cat will be able to have a healthy and happy life if you administer all medicines on time and follow up with routine vet checks.