Just like older people, arthritis is very common in elderly cats, and can cause a lot of pain and discomfort. The main signs are a reluctance to jump up or run as much as usual, especially in cold and wet weather, and changes in personality such as increased aggression (caused by the pain and discomfort). Just as for dogs, your vet can help by prescribing anti-inflammatory drugs and supplements such as glucosamine and chondritin, but there are also some things you can do at home to help ease the pain of arthritic joints in cats:
- A covered hot water bottle or special heated pad in his bed can help keep joints warm and reduce the pain and swelling he feels
- Regular short periods of exercise such as encouraging him to trot around the garden or gentle play indoors will help keep him mobile
- Reducing his weight if he is overweight by feeding a low calorie diet will reduce the strain on his joints
One thing to be aware of that is of particular relevance to treating cats with arthritis is the issue of side-effects related to common anti-inflammatory drugs. Until a few years ago there were few licensed drugs available to treat arthritis in cats, but now there are several, including the most common one which is a liquid called Metacam. While these drugs can be very effective at reducing pain in cats with arthritis, there are definitely more risks of side effects in cats as compared to dogs, particularly in older animals. The main issue of concern is the effect of these drugs on kidneys and there is definitely a case for using this kind of drugs with caution in older cats and those suffering from any form of kidney problem.