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Cats by nature are athletic animals that are most happy when frolicking and
playing. Unfortunately, this high level of activity promotes tremendous wear
and tear on their joints. Inevitably joints, ligaments and bones are vulnerable
to damage and this can cause them pain and discomfort. Arthritis is a
degenerative condition of the joints, which impairs joint mobility and often
results in chronic pain. In the normal joint, the surfaces of the bone that
meet together are lined with a thin layer of cartilage, which acts as a shock
absorber. The whole joint is enclosed in a membrane that secretes synovial fluid
to help lubricate these surfaces. Gradually, wear and tear may erode the
cartilage, so that the underlying bone becomes exposed, resulting in pain and
reduced joint movement. Arthritis may occur later in life following injury to a
joint in the past. Arthritic changes can be exacerbated by the excess forces on
the joint, which result if the cat is overweight. The ‘major’ joints are most
commonly affected: the hips, stifles (‘knees’), elbows and back.
There are several types of arthritis that can afflict cats
of all breeds and sizes. The most common forms of feline arthritis are:
Osteoarthritis is a chronic, slowly progressing
condition that is caused by the breakdown and destruction of your pet's
cartilage. As that occurs, the bony structures begin to rub against one another
causing pain and discomfort.
Joint Disease involves some kind of a breakdown or destruction in portions of
the joint, usually cartilage. Just as in the case of osteoarthritis, this
condition does not necessarily mean that your pet is experiencing any
is characterized by a malformed "ball and joint" socket in your animal. As you
might expect, this ill-fitting combination causes a series of complications.
Here, chronic inflammation is common; calcium build-ups occur; there is muscle
pain; and the tissue in the surrounding areas begin to break down.
More information on hip dysplasia.
is a like condition that is typically hereditary and most generally found in
larger breeds of dogs. Bones become malformed and usually results in "bone
chips" that are very painful. Typically, your pet will exhibit some lameness
when suffering from this condition.
is also characterized by malformed bones and bone "chips." It is painful and
often obviates itself since the pet is lame and/or limping as the condition
joint typically involves torn ligaments which cause instability in the joint.
Dislocation of the (knee) joint is also a problem. Inflammation is common since
this is a joint that is subjected to a lot of stress and strain. In most cases
it is a result of poor breeding.
is a condition where you are contending with a medical condition that results
from poor breeding. Improper or inadequate diet can also cause this condition
(both factors may be at play). It is characterized by cartilage deterioration
and tissue is generally both inflamed and painful.
arthritis involves excessive bone growth and/or "spurs" on the joints
themselves. In such situations, the pet is typically experiencing a lot of pain.
is usually a multi-factorial situation making a clear-cut cause difficult to
isolate. An unstable joint, osteochondrosis or even trauma may be the cause.
(Or, a combination of factors).
Wrist arthritis (carpi)
might be compared to "carpal tunnel syndrome" seen in humans. Usually, this area
of the pet's body is affected more frequently with pets who are very active.
Kneecap (dislocation) is usually caused by poorly
formed leg bones which secondarily, allows the kneecap to move or "pop" out of
its normal position. Usually, this is either an inherited condition or results
from poor breeding.
The ultimate outcome of these factors is a
joint that simply isn't working properly and where the sensory nerve endings in
the supporting joint structures are irritated. These irritated nerve endings in
the stressed joint tissues send pain and discomfort signals to the brain. The
result is a cat that limps, rests often and is reluctant to move in a normal
fashion. And since there is no nerve cells in articular cartilage, when pain is
present it is coming from the joint capsule, ligaments and supporting tissues.
These changes in a joint can occur rapidly, such as after a
fracture and unsatisfactory healing, or progress with subtle but long term
damage as with moderate forms of hip dysplasia. Gradual degeneration of the
spine such as in the image above is very common and takes years to develop.
Since there are no blood vessels or sensory nerves in joint cartilage, damage to
cartilage can be quite advanced before the surrounding supportive tissues become
inflamed and sore.
Symptoms of Arthritis
Reluctance to walk, climb stairs, jump, or play
Difficulty rising from a resting position
Trouble running and climbing stairs
Audible "clicking" when walking
Change in behavior that seems to indicate pain
Swelling and inflammation of the joints
Limited movements and lack of desire to exercise (Lagging behind
A personality change resisting touch
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