Helping Your Arthritic Cat to Have a More Pleasant Life

Posted on: 20 April 2015

Cats develop some of the same bone diseases as their human owners. Arthritis damages their joints, causing pain and inflammation. If you have an older kitty that walks with a stiff gate and hesitates to jump up onto and down from high surfaces, have your veterinarian evaluate them for arthritic joints. Along with medication that the vet can offer to relieve the pain, there are a number of things you can do to help your feline friend be comfortable at home.

Set Cat Beds on the Floor

Create several places on the floor for your cat to use for sleeping so they don't have to jump up to reach them. You may need to make several spots available to your cat until they decide which are their favorites. If other pets in the house will disturb your cat while resting on the floor, create a space in a closet and keep the door partially closed so they have some privacy.

Build Ramps to Help Your Cat Get Up and Down

If it's not feasible in your home to have cat beds on the floor, build or buy small ramps to help your cat get up onto the bed or a cat tree. Narrow ramps with a carpeted walkway for traction will keep your cat from jarring their joints when jumping up to or down from their favorite high places.

Heating Pads Relieve Pain and Swelling

A heating pad placed under a towel on the cat beds will warm up your cat's joints, increasing circulation and reducing swelling. The heating pad can be on a timer or thermostat and left on all day.

Keep Litter Boxes and Food Dishes Easy to Access

If the litter box has a high step to get over for your cat, cut it down as close to the ground as possible. Your kitty may get frustrated if they can't get into the litter box, and they may find a place outside of it to relieve themselves. An alternative to the litter box is a shallow aluminum foil tray. Line it with newspaper and pour in enough litter to cover the bottom. Dump it at the end of each day and refill with new litter.

Arthritis can affect the bones in the spine. Your cat may have difficulty moving their neck and raising their head to eat out of a tall dish or a dish on a stand. Use a shallow dish sitting on the floor to help your kitty get to their food and water.

Help Your Friend with Grooming

It may become difficult for your cat to reach all areas to groom. Brush or comb them daily to help them out. The top of the head, back of the neck, and on their back near the base of their tail will be the hardest places for them to reach. If you notice that they struggle to keep themselves clean after using the litter box, gently clean them off with a warm, damp wash cloth.

Offer a Periodic Massage

While grooming your kitty, try gently massaging their muscles around their joints and along the sides of the spine. This stimulates circulation and reduces pain and swelling. Some cats enjoy this while others may get over-stimulated. Only do as much as your cat can tolerate comfortably.

Look for Alternatives to Medicine for Pain Relief

Besides medication to ease your cat's pain, work with your vet to identify other ways to make your cat comfortable. A periodic pet acupuncture session can reduce the pain and swelling in your cat's joints. Nutritional supplements, such as glucosamine, can protect the cartilage in the joints from further damage. Some cats will tolerate hydrotherapy as a way to warm the joints to increase circulation and reduce swelling.

By giving your cat a little extra attention, they will have a more enjoyable life in spite of the arthritis that has attacked their joints.


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