Every Cat Logo

Diagnosis of arthritis in cats

Klinck MP, Frank D, Guillot M and Troncy E. Owner-perceived signs and veterinary diagnosis in 50 cases of feline osteoarthritis. Can Vet J. 2012; 53: 1181-6.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is common in older cats and the associated chronic pain and functional limitations are a serious animal welfare concern. In this study from the University of Montreal, owners of 50 cats were interviewed to collect information on specific osteoarthritis signs observed in the home. Information was collected on signs relating to mobility, self-maintenance, social and exploratory behavior, and activity and habits at diagnosis and after treatment. The mean age at diagnosis of OA was 12 years and many cats (44%) had concurrent diseases. Owner-reported abnormalities led to OA diagnosis in most cases; either as the primary finding (30%), or combined with abnormal physical examination or radiographic findings (64%). Owners frequently reported changes in mobility, particularly gait, jumping, and use of stairs. It was rare for a diagnosis of OA to be based on physical examination findings alone. 

The most common treatments were glucosamine and polysulfated glycosaminoglycan products. Feline OA diagnosis and therapeutic monitoring remains challenging for veterinary practitioners and it appears to rely heavily on owner-perceived signs. Questioning of owners with cats at risk for OA revealed various observable signs potentially useful in detection and monitoring. [MK]

See also: Bennett D, Zainal Ariffin SM and Johnston P. Osteoarthritis in the cat: 1. how common is it and how easy to recognise? J Feline Med Surg. 2012; 14: 65-75