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Cat Pain: Identifying the Different Types of Arthritis in Cats

When your cat is lethargic, walks and eats less, sleeps or is awake more than usual, and ignores his favorite ball of string, the warning bells suddenly sound – and you know that there is something terribly wrong. A trip to the vet may yield a quite unexpected find: arthritis. “In cats?” you may ask. Yes, unfortunately, felines and humans share many illnesses, including arthritis. Arthritis in cats accounts for most chronic cat pain.

But arthritis is a general term. To get the correct solution to help reduce cat pain, first try to identify what type of arthritis he has. There are a lot of types of arthritis, but the ones that cats most commonly suffer from are:

Traumatic arthritis: This type of arthritis is derived from accidents or a simple sprain. It could be from anything – a fall from a shelf, an impact injury (from a moving vehicle), a cat fight, or some other trauma. It may even range from a pain that is not that serious to one that may require surgery.

Progressive polyarthritis: This can be further divided into two. One type similar to human rheumatoid arthritis – the bone under the cartilage becomes exposed. The other type has an eroded cartilage with bone thickening on one side of the joint and is similar to degenerative joint diseases. Both have the same effect though – the slightest movement gives your cat pain.

Bacterial arthritis: Beware if your cat comes home from a fight with the neighbors. Immediately check for bite marks. Apparently, rabies is not the only one you should think of when you find a mark. Bacterial arthritis comes from bite wounds, possibly from a dog or other cats. When the joint becomes swollen, the cat will most possibly have a fever, and he will not eat. This deadly type of arthritis not only infects the joints but also the bone if it is left untreated.

Osteoarthritis: If your cat is the athletic type, then he can be more prone to this illness. Although very rare in cats, this may happen due to frequent episodes of trauma (such as the ones mentioned under traumatic arthritis) as dislocation of joints most often contribute to the wear-and-tear of the cartilage. An obese or overweight cat can also suffer from cat joint pain as excessive weight puts pressure on the joints. The stiffness will be most obvious when the feline comes from a prolonged sitting or lying-down position.

Arthritis in cats is a disease that should be given proper medical attention once symptoms arise. Possible warning signs may include limping, avoiding jumping or climbing, legs that look thinner than usual, favoring a specific limb, aggression or withdrawal from other pets/humans, etc. Ask your vet as to the gravity of your cat’s condition, so that you can give your furry little friend the comfort he so badly needs all throughout his life.