By the time your cat has reached 12 years of age you may well notice that they are slowing down when compared to their more youthful years.
This of course is perfectly natural. A 12 year old cat is the equivalent to 65 in a human. It makes sense that your cat will not be so active.
However, it is a good idea to have your pet checked out by your veterinarian when they reach a certain age, especially if you see a noticeable slow down in activity. It might be due to the onset of joint issues that your vet will be able to help with.
Signs of joint problems can be subtle, but often go hand in hand with the ageing process.
An affected cat may seem lethargic and may increasingly seek out comforting places to nap—in a warm corner of your home, for example, or in a spot of sunshine near a window.
Other more obvious indications would be seeing your cat having troubles hopping in and out of its litter box, or and it may avoid going up and down stairs. Your cat cat may also be unable to groom itself thoroughly.
The Most Common Cat Joint Disorders
The most common diagnosed feline joint disorder is osteoarthritis. Also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD).
There are several ways the condition may occur and both are in part due to the ageing process:
- Gradual wear and tear on a joint that takes place over time, or
- Through disease that compromises the internal structure of a joint.
Essentially, the joint causes pain due to the erosion of cartilage. This is the smooth tissue that protects the ends of bones when they rub together through simple movement.
With the cartilage worn, the bone ends come immediately into contact, causing inflammation around the joint and a great deal of pain for your cat.
Other Joint Disorders
Some cats are born with what are called developmental defects—a genetically inherited condition—that affects the joints.
The most common occurring of these conditions is hip dysplasia. This is where the ball and socket of the joint are misaligned and loose. This structural abnormality causes the bones in the joint to rub together painfully.
Joint issues in your cat can also be a sign of disorders such as bone cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and ligament ruptures. However, these are very much worse case scenario outcomes and are relatively rare in cats.
Once your vet has diagnosed exactly the kind of joint problem your cat is having, palliative treatment—relying largely on pain medication and attentive home care—is normally the path that is taken.
This should relieve the discomfort and provide your cat with a reasonably good quality of life.
Overall it is worth remembering that when your cat is getting a bit older, they need the same tender loving care that an ageing human requires. More regular check ups with the vet will hopefully nip major issues in the bud, and will ensure that your cat is getting all the help that they need.