Treatment Options for Osteoarthritis in Cats

Treatment Options for Osteoarthritis in Cats

Osteoarthritis in Cats: Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most common joint diseases in cats. As your cat ages, the cartilage in their joints breaks down, causing pain, stiffness, and limited mobility.

You may notice your cat struggling to jump up onto furniture, avoiding stairs, or limping. They may meow or hiss when you touch a sore joint. It’s best to take your cat to the vet as soon as you observe these signs for an accurate diagnosis and early treatment.

Your vet will do a physical exam, checking for joint swelling, pain, and limited range of motion. X-rays can confirm the diagnosis and determine the severity. Blood tests and other imaging may also be needed to rule out other conditions.

Treatment Options for Osteoarthritis in Cats

Signs Your Cat May Have Osteoarthritis

Stiffness and Difficulty Moving

If your cat seems stiffer than usual or is hesitant to jump up or down from furniture, it could indicate joint pain from osteoarthritis. Cats are usually quite agile, so noticing a lack of flexibility or reluctance to move can be an early sign of the condition. Watch for your cat avoiding stairs or their litter box, difficulty getting into their carrier, or trouble grooming themselves.

Changes in Behavior

Osteoarthritis in cats can lead to changes in behavior due to pain or discomfort. Your cat may become irritable or less tolerant of being handled or brushed. They could also become more reclusive, hiding away by themselves. Some cats may cry or meow more often, especially when moving around. Limping or favoring a leg is also common and a clear indicator that your cat may have osteoarthritis.

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Loss of Interest in Play

Cats with osteoarthritis tend to be less active and playful. If your cat stops playing with toys or other pets in the home, it could indicate they are in pain. Jumping, running and pouncing require flexible and pain-free joints. Your cat may seem less energetic or enthusiastic overall about normal activities due to osteoarthritis discomfort.

The good news is there are many treatment options for osteoarthritis in cats to help improve their mobility, reduce pain, and increase quality of life. Talk to your vet about supplements, medication, therapeutic exercises or other alternative therapies that could benefit your cat. With proper treatment and management, osteoarthritis does not have to slow your cat down.

Treatment Options for Osteoarthritis in Cats

If your feline friend is showing signs of osteoarthritis, the good news is there are several treatment options available to help improve their comfort and mobility. The course of treatment will depend on the severity of their condition and your vet’s recommendations.

Weight Management

If your cat is overweight, losing some pounds can help take pressure off their joints and ease osteoarthritis pain. Your vet may recommend slowly switching to a weight loss diet food formula and sticking to measured portions. Even losing just a few ounces can make a difference.


Gentle exercise like short walks, laser pointer chasing, and feather-on-a-string playing can help keep your cat limber while avoiding high-impact activities that could further stress their joints. Aquatic therapy or swimming is also a great option if your cat enjoys water.

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Pain Medication

For many cats, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce inflammation and ease chronic pain from osteoarthritis. Some common prescription NSAIDs for cats include meloxicam, carprofen, and deracoxib. These are usually very safe for long-term use, but your vet will monitor your cat to ensure proper dosage and minimal side effects.


Certain supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin or omega-3 fatty acids may help support joint health and mobility in cats with osteoarthritis. While not a substitute for prescription medication, supplements could provide additional benefit. However, always talk to your vet before giving any supplements to make sure the product and dosage is appropriate and safe for your cat.

By using a combination of weight loss, gentle exercise, medication, and supplements, you can help keep your feline companion comfortable even with osteoarthritis. Be sure to follow up regularly with your vet to monitor their progress and make any needed adjustments to their treatment plan. With patience and the right care, cats of any age can continue to live happily despite this condition.

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How often should I take my cat to the vet for osteoarthritis?

Early diagnosis and treatment of osteoarthritis is key to managing the condition and improving your cat’s quality of life. Take your cat for regular vet checkups, especially as they get older. Your vet will check for signs of osteoarthritis like difficulty jumping, limping, or decreased activity level. They may take X-rays to look for changes in the joints. Early treatment options like supplements, medication, weight loss, and low-impact exercise can help slow the progression of osteoarthritis.

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What medications are available for osteoarthritis in cats?

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly used to reduce inflammation, ease pain, and improve mobility. Some options for cats include meloxicam, carprofen, and robenacoxib. These come in pill, liquid, or transdermal gel forms. Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements can also help lubricate joints and reduce inflammation over time. For more severe pain, your vet may prescribe stronger pain medication like gabapentin or tramadol.

Should I change my cat’s diet for osteoarthritis?

Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do for an arthritic cat. Extra weight puts more stress on the joints, bones, and muscles. Switching to a high-quality diet formulated for weight loss or joint health can help your cat shed excess pounds. Look for a diet with natural anti-inflammatory ingredients like fish oil, green-lipped mussels, or turmeric. Limit treats and measure out portions to avoid overfeeding.

What else can I do to help my arthritic cat?

In addition to medication and diet, low-impact exercise and physical therapy can help keep joints flexible and muscles strong. Gentle massage and range-of-motion exercises are good options for arthritic cats. Make sure your cat has easy access to litter boxes, food bowls, stairs or ramps leading to favorite napping spots. Provide orthopedic beds, heating pads, and grooming to keep your cat comfortable. With the right treatment, you can manage osteoarthritis symptoms and slow the progression of joint changes to give your cat the best quality of life possible.