There’s nothing worse than seeing our furry family members in pain.
Unfortunately, issues such as osteoarthritis (OA) and degenerative joint disease are common in cats, especially as they age. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, 90% of cats over 10 years experience OA in at least one joint.
Not only does seeing your pet struggle take an emotional toll on you and your family, but it also takes a financial toll. Expensive vet visits, ongoing medications, and special dietary foods are common for cats struggling with joint pain or arthritis — but they may not fully address the issue.
If your older cat seems to be struggling with mobility issues, we’re here to help. Let’s look at some causes, symptoms, and natural treatment options for arthritis and joint pain in cats.
Understanding Joint Pain and Arthritis in Cats
Age is just one piece of the puzzle regarding joint issues your cat may be experiencing. Numerous factors may contribute to pain and arthritis — and symptoms may not always be obvious.
Common Causes of Arthritis in Cats
Ongoing research notes that the following factors can trigger arthritis and joint pain in cats or exacerbate issues over time:
- Excess weight and obesity
- Abnormal joint, bone, and cartilage development
- Injuries or surgeries
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Congenital or breed-related issues
- Ongoing wear and tear
As cats age, they’re more likely to experience any or all of these, which may be why arthritis is common among our senior feline friends.
Common Symptoms of Arthritis in Cats
Here are a few common symptoms to watch out for:
- Less jumping, stretching, and movement than usual
- Doesn’t want to play
- Hesitation when jumping from cat trees, couches, steps, etc.
- Stiffness or swelling, especially after rest
- Accidents and litter box issues
- Changes in grooming behavior
- Aggression towards you or other pets
- Walking slowly or stiffly
As any cat owner knows, cats are masters at hiding pain, and many are just aloof creatures to begin with. That can make it difficult to tell when your cat might be in pain or experiencing joint issues, so be sure you’re keeping a close eye on things.
Natural Arthritis Pain Relief for Cats
Common arthritis treatments for pets include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), pain medications, and other prescriptions. These are options but often come with side-effects and ongoing costs.
If you’ve found that current treatment options aren’t totally effective or you simply want to try some natural alternatives, you’ve come to the right place. Focusing on simple lifestyle changes can significantly reduce arthritis symptoms and improve your cat’s quality of life.
If your cat struggles with arthritis, joint pain, and inflammation, a critical first step is to make some tweaks to the home.
- Provide access to a litter box on all floors of the house to avoid going up and down the stairs.
- Get a litter box with lower sides.
- Add ramps for easy, safe access to the couch, bed, or other places your cat likes to rest.
- Upgrade your cat’s bed to one that is supportive and good for joints
- Make brushing a daily occurrence if they’re struggling with grooming
- Non-skid backing on rugs can also help prevent slipping and injury
Not only will this help minimize pain for your furry companion, but it’ll also help minimize accidents, excessive shedding, and damage to furniture that many cat owners struggle with.
Diet & Exercise
As noted above, weight and nutrition can have an impact on your cat. Excess weight can put more stress on joints, and a well-rounded diet helps build strong bones and muscles.
Certain foods and treats are designated to help with joint pain and inflammation you may want to try. Look for limited, recognizable ingredients and natural options. This will help you avoid fillers and additives that can trigger other health issues.
If your senior cat doesn’t like to move as much as they used to, it may be up to you to add more exercise into the routine. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, “regular moderate exercise contributes to better joint health, even in the face of OA.”
Grab their favorite toy and treats to encourage gentle movement and playtime throughout the day.
- Consider laser pointers and toys they can chase on the ground vs. jumping.
- Get food or treat balls so they can “hunt” for their food
- Consider harness/leash training and go on walks
- Allow for breaks and rest in between play sessions
Alternative Therapies and Home Remedies for Cat Arthritis
There are a variety of natural remedies and alternative therapies that have been shown to help improve the symptoms of arthritis.
Some natural and holistic pet care providers and veterinarians will offer alternative therapies that have been shown to reduce pain and inflammation, increase mobility, improve blood flow, and boost overall wellness for humans and pets.
Therapies to consider for your arthritic cat include:
- Physical therapy
- Chiropractic care
- Laser therapy
In addition to alternative medicines, some home remedies have also been shown to help reduce inflammation and increase your cat’s mobility. You might find that your cat enjoys:
- Warm compresses and heating pads
- Increased water intake
Use caution to avoid too much pressure during massage or burns and overheating from the heating pads.
Supplements for Joint Health
While the above solutions can get results, they may not actually tackle the issue at the source — your cat’s gut.
Ongoing research, primarily focused on humans, suggests correlations between your gut microbiome, immune system, and inflammatory conditions like arthritis. It makes sense that a similar imbalance in your cat’s microbiome may also trigger inflammation and chronic issues.
Maya Pet — the world’s first anthrobiotic — has 10 Smart Strains™ of good bacteria, specifically chosen to help boost your pet’s immune response and improve communication between your gut, brain, and nervous system. Daily use can help align your cat’s gut, reducing inflammation and providing relief from joint pain.
And unlike many common pet probiotics, Maya Pet doesn’t contain unnecessary additives or fillers that can actually make symptoms worse or interfere with other pet medications.