My cat seems to have trouble with stairs and can't run up them like he used to. Is something wrong?
He doesn't limp when just normal walking. Is this normal with age?
Irene, this can indeed happen with age and it’s often associated with degenerative joint disease, or osteoarthritis. One study of 100 cats aged between 6 months and 20 years found that over 90% of them had signs of osteoarthritis in at least one joint. The study also showed that the most common sites for osteoarthritis were the joints of the hind legs, so that certainly could explain the reluctance to jump. In fact, a change in jumping behavior is one of the most consistent findings in osteoarthritis in cats, and they don’t often show a limp or change in the way they walk. This isn’t a huge study but it gives some indication of how common this disease may be.
The challenge then is how to help your cat. Most anti-inflammatory medications that can be used in dogs aren’t safe for cats. Lifestyle changes are important, such as giving your cat a number of steps to get to where he wants to go. For example, if he likes to sit on the table with you but can’t jump up there, you can put a chair in a spot where he can leap to the chair and then to the table. Weight management is also important, and there are some nutriceuticals that may help to support his joints.
It’s time to take him to your vet for an evaluation and to have a chat about what options are available to make your puss feel better.
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