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Help and advice if your pet suffers from cat flu, cat colds or other ailments

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White cat with arthritis

Just like humans, arthritis is a common condition in cats - particularly when old age sets in.

Classic osteoarthritis is the result of changes in the bones of your cat's joints which results in a reduction in their range of motion and causes considerable discomfort.

A physical examination by your vet can indicate signs of arthritis but an X-ray may be needed to confirm the diagnosis.

If an X-ray doesn't support the diagnosis of arthritis, it could be that your pet is experiencing nerve pain rather than bone or muscle pain. In this scenario, your cat may need to be referred to a vetinarary neurologist.

The first sign to watch out for arthritis in your cat is lameness and your pet may begin to experience stiffness or pain.

As the disease progresses, this stiffness will be more pronounced after periods of rest.

Your cat's range of motion will become restricted as the affected joints become swollen and enlarged.

There is no cure for arthritis, once it develops and the main signs you should look out for to confirm the condition are:

- Inability to jump onto items around the home

- Difficulty getting in and out of the litter box

- Lameness

- Stiffness after sleeping

- Yelping when touched

- Reluctance to walk, play or climb stairs

Your cat's joints are made up of bones that have cartilage on the ends which cushions the bones and decreases friction. There is a small amount of fluid in each joint that lubricates the cartilage. When a joint become arthritic the cartilage becomes rough, and the joint fluid thickens and calcium deposits form at the end of the bones.

A good diet that encourages bone growth and development is a key way to decrease the risk of your cat developing arthritis.

Also, you should try to prevent your cat becoming overweight as a heavier a cat is, the more stress is placed on the joints.

Cold conditions can aggravate arthritis and make the joints more painful, so it's best to let an older cat sleep on a soft, warm surface to ensure better comfort.

You must not try to treat an arthritic condition without first consulting a veterinarian.

Your vet will consider a range of options and medications used to treat arthritis can include children's aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, nutritional supplements and cortisone.

A specific amount of children's aspirin can be given every three days - but this must be strictly under the supervision of your vet.

Cortisone is often prescribed to reduce inflammation and pain in cats, although some owners have become anxious in the past on hearing of problems cortisone has caused in humans. It's worth pointing out that cats show no side effects to cortisone - which is given by injection or orally - as they are much less sensitive to the effect of the drug than humans.

There are also many nutritional supplements, which can help in dealing with arthritis, including fish oils, glucosamine, antitoxants (vitamins E, C and Zinc) and MSM (methylsulfonymethane)

Your cat will need all the love and attention you can give as it struggles to cope with arthritis.

You may need to place a cushion, stool or step in the right location in your home to enable your cat to reach regular destinations. You should also insure food and water bowls are easy to reach and that your pet can get in and out all the litter tray with minimum discomfort.

An extensive range of Cat Arthritis products and books are available in the Arthritis Category of our CAT STORE.