My 20 year old Woody has gotten pretty creaky in the last few years. He has arthritis. But he gets around with the help of some special arrangements, supplements and pain medication. He still jumps in my lap and onto the bath tub. Lots of our older cats have aches and pains and you can help them have a more comfortable time enjoying their older years. If you use words like “my cat’s just acting her age,” or “my cat has just been slowing down,” you are probably recognizing your cat doesn’t feel great. We don’t slow down or change what we do because we’re old, we change these things because it’s painful or uncomfortable doing them.
A recent study showed that 90% of 12 year old cats had arthritis changes on x rays. That’s a ton of cats. So we need to realize that it’s out there and recognize when there are signs of trouble.
Cats just stop doing things when they hurt. They don’t groom as well and you start seeing the little hair clumps in places that used to be well groomed. When you first see this, it’s often a red flag that your cat is uncomfortable getting to an area to groom.
When joints and muscles move well and without pain, a cat moves with grace and ease. If your cat isn’t, it’s probably because she is uncomfortable doing that activity. It is helpful to remind us that people with arthritis will still get down the stairs to do laundry, go to the store, do what they need to do until they feel too badly to continue. Don’t let your cat wait that long!
Most cats prefer to go up. Up onto counters, shelves, refrigerator, you name it. It’s a red flag if your cat used to be in places like that, but now they’re always in a chair or in a place where they have jumped on a lower thing to get there.
If the litterbox isn’t the place you find her business, it may be uncomfortable to climb in! Some litterbox “walls” are high to keep the litter from being kicked around. Climbing over them might just not be worth it.
If you notice your cat displaying any of the above, please call Cat Hospital of Portland to schedule an appointment. One of our veterinarians can help you with treatment options and strategies you can use at home to make your kitty more comfortable getting around. Getting a jump on pain is important. There are lots of strategies, ideas and products that can keep your senior cat comfortable for years to come. We are so lucky to have cats with an average life expectancy of 18-22 years now. Let’s help make them pain free years.