How to Care for a Cat with Arthritis and Joint Pain

How to Care for a Cat with Arthritis and Joint Pain

A veterinarian is best able to assess concerns about your pet’s health. If you need immediate assistance, please call poison control or an emergency vet. 

Arthritis in cats can be treated with a combination of medication, supplements, physical therapy, and weight loss. Common treatments include:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatoriesLike meloxicam and Onsior, these can help relieve pain and inflammation
  • SupplementsJoint supplements like Nutramax Cosequin Hip & Joint and VetriScience GlycoFlex 2 Chicken Liver Flavored Soft Chews can help
  • AcupunctureOften best when combined with conventional treatment, acupuncture can help stimulate the body’s repair mechanisms
  • Cold laser therapy or photobiomodulation (PBMT)A noninvasive and painless treatment that allows a vet to move a small device 

Other things you can do to help your cat with arthritis include:

  • Providing a warm, comfortable sleeping area, especially in cold weather
  • Using a pressure-mount baby gate to keep your cat safe
  • Moving your own activities so you can spend more time with your cat on one floor 

With appropriate management, cats with arthritis can live a normal life expectancy. 

This is for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute medical advice or diagnosis.

One of the best ways to help a cat who has arthritis is to create a comfortable environment for them that’s also safe. You can do this by: Giving your cat a soft, warm bed that is easy for your cat to get into and out of. Providing a ramp up to places they like to rest — such as your bed, a couch, or a window seat.

Caring for a cat with arthritis and joint pain involves a combination of medical treatment, lifestyle adjustments, and supportive care. Always consult with your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan tailored to your cat’s specific needs. Here are some general tips to help you care for a cat with arthritis:

How to Care for a Cat with Arthritis and Joint Pain

  1. Consult with a Veterinarian:
    • Before implementing any changes, consult with your veterinarian to confirm the diagnosis and discuss treatment options.
  2. Medication:
    • Your veterinarian may prescribe medications such as pain relievers or anti-inflammatory drugs to manage your cat’s arthritis pain. Follow the prescribed dosage and schedule.
  3. Weight Management:
    • Maintain a healthy weight for your cat to reduce stress on the joints. Overweight cats are more prone to arthritis.
  4. Joint Supplements:
    • Consider adding joint supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin to your cat’s diet. These supplements can help support joint health and reduce inflammation.
  5. Soft and Warm Bedding:
    • Provide your cat with a soft, comfortable bed in a warm and quiet area. Avoid placing the bed in drafty or cold locations.
  6. Accessible Litter Box:
    • Ensure the litter box is easily accessible. Choose a box with low sides to make it easier for your cat to enter and exit. Keep the litter box on the same floor where your cat spends most of its time.
  7. Gentle Exercise:
    • Encourage gentle, low-impact exercise to help maintain joint flexibility. Interactive toys, laser pointers, or gentle play can be beneficial.
  8. Warm Compress:
    • Apply a warm compress to your cat’s joints to help ease stiffness and discomfort. Use a soft cloth or a warm water bottle wrapped in a towel.
  9. Dietary Adjustments:
    • Consider feeding your cat a specialized arthritis diet or consulting with your veterinarian for dietary recommendations that support joint health.
  10. Regular Vet Check-ups:
    • Schedule regular check-ups with your veterinarian to monitor your cat’s arthritis progression and adjust the treatment plan as needed.
  11. Provide Assistive Devices:
    • Consider providing ramps or steps to help your cat access elevated surfaces like beds or furniture without putting additional strain on their joints.
  12. Grooming Assistance:
    • Help with grooming, especially in hard-to-reach areas. Arthritic cats may have difficulty grooming themselves.
  13. Patience and Understanding:
    • Be patient and understanding. Arthritis can be painful, and your cat may need extra time and assistance with daily activities.

Remember that each cat is unique, and their needs may vary. Regular communication with your veterinarian is crucial to ensure that the treatment plan is effective and adjusted as necessary to provide the best care for your cat with arthritis.

Causes of Cat Arthritis

Some of the common factors that increase a cat’s risk of arthritis are:

  • Wear and tear. The joints may weaken as the cat gets older.
  • Abnormalities. Abnormal hip development may affect cartilage around joints.
  • Injury. When a cat experiences a joint fracture or joint injury, it may cause arthritis.
  • Obesity. While there is no scientific evidence that obesity causes arthritis, it may make the condition worse.
  • Genetics. Some cat breeds have an increased risk of arthritis. This is due to abnormal development of their cartilage or hips. This is most commonly seen in Maine Coon, Persian, Scottish Fold, and Siamese cats. 

Arthritis in Back Legs

Arthritis can affect any part of a cat’s body, but it’s common in the legs. When cat arthritis occurs in the back legs it can greatly limit your cat’s mobility. In some cases, cat arthritis can cause lameness where the cat will begin limping or favoring one leg when they walk. Many times, this causes the cat to become much less active and spend more time resting.

A licensed veterinarian can help determine if your cat has arthritis in their back legs and help put together a treatment plan. 

How Is Cat Arthritis Diagnosed?

If a veterinarian suspects arthritis, they’ll review your cat’s medical history and complete a physical exam. The veterinarian will specifically look for:

  • Visible joint deformity
  • Joint pain
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Grating (scraping noise) when the cat moves its joints
  • Fluid in the joints
  • Joint instability

To confirm an arthritis diagnosis, your veterinarian will complete an X-ray to take pictures of the inside of the cat’s body and especially their bones. 

How Is Cat Arthritis Treated?

There are a few different treatment options available for cats with arthritis:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The most common treatment for cat arthritis, NSAIDs are prescribed by a licensed veterinarian who can help determine the duration and type of treatment.
  • Pain management medication. In some cases, cats will be given painkilling drugs in cases where non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are not appropriate or not sufficient.
  • Injectable joint protectants. This treatment helps relieve arthritic pain. It involves a veterinarian giving injections of glycosaminoglycans every four weeks or so to the cat.
  • Acupuncture. Although the studies regarding acupuncture for cat arthritis are limited, some cats may benefit from it. Acupuncture is an old healing practice in Chinese medicine where needles are placed at specific points in the body to relieve pain.
  • Cold laser therapy or photobiomodulation (PBMT). This noninvasive and painless treatment allows a vet to move a small device that emits therapeutic light waves across your pet’s body, on top of their fur. This type of treatment has been shown to ease pain and decrease inflammation.

How to Care for a Cat with Arthritis and Joint Pain

If you suspect your cat has arthritis, a licensed veterinarian can help determine the best treatment option for your cat. 

When cats get older, it’s not uncommon for them to develop arthritis or other joint-related health issues. Aging affects all of us, and our pets are no different. While we can’t stop the aging process, we can do our best to help kitties who suffer from arthritis or joint pain live comfortable lives. In this article, we’ll share some simple tips to help you keep your old furry friend active and healthy despite their joint issues.

Talk to Your Veterinarian About Treatment Options

While most cats with arthritis will do well on a diet of high-quality food and some kind of joint supplement, your veterinarian may recommend additional treatment. Talk to your vet about the best treatment options for your cat, based on its age and condition. 

If you’re interested in exploring non-medicinal options for treating arthritis in cats, consult with your veterinarian first before trying anything new at home. Especially if it’s something like glucosamine, it sounds great but can cause problems if not taken correctly.

Consider a Diet That Promotes Weight Loss

Your cat has arthritis and joint pain, so you may feel like it’s not the best time to put pressure on him or her to lose weight. But losing weight is a crucial part of managing your cat’s health. A fatter cat will have a harder time moving around and be more at risk for developing other conditions like heart disease or diabetes.

If your vet suspects that your cat is overweight based on its body condition score, he or she can help you set up an appropriate diet that promotes weight loss while still providing all the nutrients necessary for good health. You can also find cat food specially formulated for arthritis and weight loss as well as arthritis medication or joint supplements on PetCareRx and other online pet stores.

Ensure Adequate Hydration by Providing Multiple Bowls of Fresh Water Around the House

Ensure adequate hydration by providing multiple bowls of freshwater around the house. Cats are very sensitive to thirst and can easily dehydrate, especially if they’re unable to get outside for a drink. Make sure there are plenty of water bowls spread around your home so you’re never more than a few feet away from one when you’re looking after an arthritic cat. Also, a cat won’t drink dirty water. So if you can afford it, invest in running water bowls, water fountains, or water bowls with a filter.

Play More Interactively and Let Your Cat Chase a Laser Pointer

When you play with your cat, you’re not just having fun. You’re also allowing them to engage in a natural behavior that can help ease their pain. Playing with your cat is good for both of you. It will keep them active and stimulate their mind, which has been shown to reduce stress in cats (and humans).

There are many ways to play with a cat that has arthritis or joint pain, including chasing a laser pointer instead of a ball or toy on a string that requires jumping. As long as you stay away from games that require running or jumping around, you can still get plenty of exercises while playing together.

You should also keep in mind that cats need mental stimulation every day too. Think about how they use their paws and body parts during hunting, now think about how much time they spend sleeping at night. It’s no wonder cats need some mental stimulation during the day as well.

Ensure Easy Access to All Favorite Sleeping Areas

Cats with arthritis and joint pain need to be able to rest comfortably. You can help your cat by providing a soft bed in multiple places throughout your home, including its favorite sleeping areas. Your cat may prefer a bed or even a soft tree branch to curl up on. There are also many types of cat beds available that offer comfort as well as warmth for winter months when the weather outside is cold.

If you’re buying an expensive new item for your pet, remember that it’s important for them to get plenty of exercise and movement, so don’t buy too big of a bed. The goal here is just enough room so they don’t feel cramped but not so much space that they feel like they have no place else to go once inside it. If possible try not buying any hard surfaces at all because these could hurt their joints even more than other materials would.

Schedule Regular Vet Visits to Monitor Progress

As with any chronic condition, it’s important to monitor your cat’s progress and make sure that the treatment plan is working. Schedule regular vet visits to keep track of this progress and make adjustments as necessary.

If your cat is overweight, ask your vet about a diet that promotes weight loss. If you’re concerned that the arthritis medication or joint supplements you’re using aren’t helping enough, discuss other options with your vet.


Even though it’s difficult to see your cat in pain, there are things you can do to help your pet. Your veterinarian may be able to offer different treatment options for your cat, and you can also make some simple changes at home to keep her more comfortable. As long as you follow your vet’s advice and follow these tips, your pet will be happy and healthy at home.

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Arthritis is the swelling and tenderness of one or more joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which typically worsen with age. The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

A medical professional is best able to provide information about your particular circumstances. If you need immediate assistance, please call emergency services. 

This information does not constitute medical advice or diagnosis. 

Arthritis is a condition that causes swelling and tenderness in one or more joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are 

joint pain



. Other symptoms include: 

Swelling, Redness, Warmth, Skin discoloration, Reduced range of motion, Tenderness. 

Arthritis can be caused by injury, overuse, or doing a new type of physical activity. 

Here are some ways to treat arthritis pain:

  • Short-term relief from pain and inflammation may include pain relievers such as acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications
  • Heat and cold
  • Joint immobilization
  • Massage
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
  • Acupuncture 

Other ways to manage arthritis include:

  • Learning new self-management skills
  • Being active
  • Talking to your doctor
  • Managing your weight
  • Protecting your joints 

How to Care for a Cat with Arthritis and Joint Pain

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