Everything you need to know about osteoarthritis in cats

Old white cat

As our cat gets older, his body wears out. It is a natural process that can cause you a series of ills typical of old age, and there is one in particular that is often very difficult to detect: osteoarthritis.

This animal is a master when it comes to hiding pain, so much so that to detect osteoarthritis in cats we can only do one thing: observe it daily. Every detail, every change, no matter how small and insignificant it may be, can be a sign that our friend has a problem with his joints.

What is osteoarthritis?

Old cat

Osteoarthritis it is a chronic disease that can affect all vertebrate animals that produces the destructive alteration of the cartilage of the joints, causing the affected animal to feel a lot of pain when walking or moving its legs or, in the case of the cat, paws.

As we know, joints are the components of the skeleton that allow the connection between two bones. At the ends of these bones there is cartilage, which is a tissue that protects them. However, As we age, and after having used our joints for years, in the end this tissue ends up deteriorating. 

But not everything ends like this. The bone, previously covered by cartilage, now begins to grow from the sides, causing the joint to deform.

When does it appear in the cat?

Old gray cat

The cat is a fast growing and developing animal whose life expectancy is, sadly, only 20 years. When you turn 10 years old, you are considered to have reached old age, so it is common for you to have problems associated with the elderly at any time, being more likely after 12 years.

But, as we mentioned, detecting it is very difficult. By instinct, he will hide his pain and will continue to lead a completely normal life until the discomfort is so great that he can no longer bear it. When that happens, the disease will already have advanced a lot. For this reason, it is important to carefully observe our furry.

How do I know that my cat has it?

Old cat

Any change in your routine should be of concern to us. If our beloved cat is older, in the case of suffering from osteoarthritis or any problem related to his joints it can become very irritable and even aggressive when we stroke its back or hindquarters.

Another issue that should also concern us is its hygiene. If you are in a lot of pain, you will avoid going too far from your bed, so he is likely to relieve himself near her. In addition, you will lose mobility, which in turn will cause the loss of muscle mass.

In situations in which the osteoarthritis has advanced a lot, or in which the pain is very intense, the feline may stop grooming as often as it did before, so knots may form in your hair and your hair may become dull.

How is it diagnosed and what is the treatment?

If we suspect that he has a problem with his joints, it is advisable that we take him to the vet as soon as possible. Once there, give you an x-ray and blood test, which is usually sufficient to confirm the diagnosis.

Medical treatment will consist of give you anti-inflammatories, but at home we will also have to make some changes.

Caring for a cat with osteoarthritis

Old cat with his human


It is convenient to give him a high-quality diet, which contains essential fatty acids and antioxidants, and is free of cereals and by-products, such as Acana, Orijen, Taste of the Wild, True Instinct High Meat, among others.


If until now we had a cushion-type bed on a high surface, to make life easier It is highly recommended to buy an orthopedic or igloo type and place it on the ground so that you don't have to jump.


A sick cat may stop grooming. If our friend stopped doing it, we will have to take care of brushing him daily, as well as keeping his eyes and ears clean using a clean gauze and avoiding going too deep.



Affection is essential for the feline to want to move on and have the strength to do so. A cat with osteoarthritis is a sick cat that needs, now more than ever, the company and affection of its family. Of course, it will be necessary to avoid caressing the areas that hurt, but that does not mean that we cannot give him kisses as we have done so far for example.

He will not be able to play, but he will still be our furry, our friend.

Osteoarthritis in cats is a common disease in those who have reached old age. As the caregivers that we are, it is up to us to provide them with the best so that they can continue to be happy with us until the end of their days.

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  1.   pink bergel jorda said

    My cat is 15 years old and has been operated on twice for tumors, now she has osteoarthritis and is very thin, eats very little and is very dirty (she does not wash) my question is: can I bathe her in the bathtub? Or will it be harmful
    Thank you

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hello rosa.
      More than bathing her, I recommend wiping her with a damp towel and cleaning her like this, with cat shampoo.
      By the way, try giving him wet food; it may encourage you to eat more 🙂
      A greeting.