How do I know if my cat has arthritis?

Cats are known for their ability to hide pain and discomfort, which can make it difficult to detect arthritis in its early stages. However, there are some signs and symptoms to watch for that may indicate your cat is experiencing joint pain or inflammation:

1. Reduced mobility: Cats with arthritis may have difficulty jumping onto surfaces they used to easily reach, such as counters, beds, or window sills. They may also be reluctant to climb stairs or navigate through cat doors.

2. Stiffness and altered gait: You may notice your cat walking more slowly, with a stiffer gait, or even limping.

3. Changes in grooming habits: Cats with arthritis may have difficulty grooming themselves, leading to matted fur or decreased overall grooming. Alternatively, they may excessively groom areas near the painful joints.

4. Reluctance to play or decreased activity: Arthritic cats may become less interested in playing, exploring, or engaging in activities they previously enjoyed.

5. Behavioral changes: Cats experiencing pain from arthritis may become more irritable, aggressive, or withdrawn. They may also avoid being touched or picked up.

6. Litter box issues: Arthritis can make it painful for cats to climb in and out of a litter box or assume the proper position for elimination, leading to accidents outside the box.

7. Changes in sleeping habits: Cats with arthritis may sleep more or change their preferred sleeping spots to avoid climbing or jumping.

If you suspect your cat may have arthritis, consult with your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis. They will perform a physical examination, assess your cat's joint mobility, and may recommend additional tests, such as x-rays, to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other potential causes for your cat's symptoms. Early diagnosis and intervention can help improve your cat's quality of life and manage their arthritis effectively.