chronic aches and pains as do their human counterparts, but
they do feel them,” Dr. Wexler-Mitchell said.
A cat’s weight can exacerbate any existing conditions with his joints. Extra weight places additional pressure on joints already under stress. Your vet may recommend
putting your cat on a diet to help alleviate symptoms.
Don’t worry: Adult cats don’t race around the house
with the energy of young kittens. Just because your cat slows
down a bit doesn’t mean she’s experiencing joint issues.
Be concerned: If you notice your cat repeatedly
licking or chewing on her hip, leg joint, or ankle, she might
be experiencing pain in that area. Have her examined by a
veterinarian right away.
Dr. Wexler-Mitchell looks for signs of arthritis as cats near
the senior stage. During routine physical exams, she’ll ask
owners about their cat’s ability to get around and jump up
on things. “I feel each major joint and manipulate limbs to
check for problems,” she said. “Often I discover swellings and
discomforts that owners have not noticed.”
If your senior cat is diagnosed with arthritis, your vet
will work with you to find a treatment option that is best for
your cat. You can also take steps at home to make your cat
more comfortable, Dr. Wexler-Mitchell said. These include:
• Providing a step to help your cat reach the bed or sofa
• Placing a low-sided litter box in an easily accessible
area that doesn’t involve going up or down stairs
• Keeping your cat’s nails trimmed. Her diminished activi-
ty may not allow her to wear down the nails as quickly.
• Providing a soft bed
• Wrapping a heating pad (on a low level) with a towel
Don’t worry: Senior cats enjoy a slower paced life,
and a decrease in activity level at this age is to be expected.
Be concerned: If your senior cat avoids activity
altogether or shows sign of pain when you stroke her
or pick her up, she should be examined by a vet as
soon as possible.
A lifelong cat owner, Stacy N. Hackett writes frequently
about cats, cat breeds and a range of pet-related topics. The inspiration for her writing comes from her four
cats — Jack, Phillip, Katie, and Leroy — and her Cocker
Spaniel/Labrador Retriever mix, Maggie.
Say hello to the last litter box
you will ever buy.