The Importance of Maintaining Good Hip & Joint Health in Cats and Ways to Make it Better

The Importance of Maintaining Good Hip & Joint Health in Cats and Ways to Make it Better

Jul 18, 2022
16 min

Hip and joint problems occur in cats the same as in dogs, though cats tend to hide the condition and handle it better. Like dogs, mobility issues tend to appear in large cat breeds like Maine Coons, though any cat can suffer from hip and joint problems.

Here is everything you need to know about cat mobility issues, including signs and symptoms, causes, and how they can be diagnosed, treated, and prevented.

What Are the Common Hip & Joint Problems in Cats?

A painful orthopedic disorder called hip dysplasia is among the various hip and joint diseases that compromise a cat’s ability to move quickly. 

However, the condition is rare in felines compared to its occurrence in dogs and humans. Nevertheless, cat owners should be aware of its clinical signs, causes, and ways they can manage the disorder if it occurs. Below are some common hip and joint problems in cats, in addition to hip dysplasia.

  • Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a malformation caused by joint degeneration during development or may arise due to immune system, infection, and trauma. Over time, the joint cartilage in the freely moving hip joints may degrade, resulting in mobility issues and, in many cases, pain.

  • Septic Arthritis

Septic arthritis is a painful joint infection usually caused by bacteria spreading through the blood. The bacteria may enter the body through wounds. Other causes of septic arthritis include spirochetes, trauma, and rickettsiae.

  • Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a structural defect of the hip joints. The ball and socket become incorrectly positioned, preventing smooth movement of the femoral head. 

Therefore, the femoral head and the acetabulum keep knocking and grinding each other as the cat moves about or exercises. With time, the consistent wear and tear cause the femoral head to become worn and flattened, while the acetabulum becomes shallow, resulting in an incapacitated looseness of the entire joint.

  • Immune-Mediated Arthritis

Immune-mediated arthritis is the inflammation of joints caused by the body’s immune system. As a result, the joint cartilage and the bone below the cartilage are torn down. The abnormal immune response may be caused by either an auto-immune response by the body against its joint issues or by an infection.

  • Cancerous Arthritis

Cats with synovial cell sarcoma, cancer from different tissues, such as muscles and ligaments, are prone to muscle arthritis. In this case, the limb can be amputated to prevent cancer from spreading and alleviate the pain.

  • Joint Trauma

Many kinds of trauma can affect your cat’s joints, including palmar carpal ligament breakdown and cranial cruciate ligament tears caused by injuries sustained from falling or jumping. In some cases, serious injuries may lead to hip dislocation.

What Are the Signs of Hip & Joint Problems in Cats?

As a cat owner, you might notice that your cat is not moving as swiftly as before or jumping on sunny windowsills. Cats only show subtle signs of weakening joints, which their owners often mistake for age-related issues.

Watch out for the following signs when evaluating your cat’s hip and joint health:

  • Difficulty getting up, moving, and jumping
  • Swelling of the joints
  • Spending more time at rest and walking less frequently
  • Loss of muscle mass in the hind limbs
  • Sensitivity to petting or brushing on the lower back
  • Avoid exercise or any other form of physical activity.

What Causes Hip & Joint Problems in Cats?

A specific cause of hip and joint problems in felines has not been identified. 

However, the condition is thought to be caused by obesity and genetics since a disorder like hip dysplasia is more prevalent in certain breeds. Obesity increases pressure on the supporting structures of the joint, leading to excessive wear and tear at the joint.

Numerous conditions like auto-immune diseases, infections, diabetes, cancer, and cruciate ligament disease result in mobility issues in cats.

How Can Hip Problems in Cats Be Treated?

Pet parents can do plenty of things to support their kitties’ mobility and prevent future joint problems. Below are some of the ways hip problems can be treated and managed.

1. Exercises

Regular and comfortable exercises such as walks on a harness and interactive play with toys are essential in reducing joint disorder discomfort. 

Consider using KONG Feather Teaser Cat Toy to limit your cat’s jumping and movement and, at the same time, keep him stimulated and engaged.

2. Nutrition

A nutritious diet helps cats with joint problems mainly caused by obesity since excess weight puts more joint stress. Feed your cat with low calories and fat foods but maintain normal fiber levels and high-quality proteins to help your kitty feel full. 

Try Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Instinctive Wet Food for Cats for best results.

3. Joint supplements

Providing your cat with supplements and other alternative treatments may help relieve some discomforts. It will also help minimize the progression of bony arthritic changes in the hip joints. 

Consider using the following supplements to help repair your cat’s cartilage from abnormal wear and tear and keep the cartilage healthy.

4. Surgical Treatment

There are surgical options for cats with severe hip dysplasia that’s causing them extreme pain. In most cases, the affected femoral head is removed. 

Your cat will then form a false joint after removing the femoral head and get more support from the muscles. Cats who have undergone surgical treatment may show slight signs of limping but are pain-free and may fully return to complete activity levels.

5. Acupuncture and Physical Therapy

Acupuncture and physical therapy are other effective treatment options for mobility issues in cats, mainly when used in conjunction with joint supplements and other treatments. It helps with pain relief and speeds up the recovery process.

How Can Hip Problems in Cats Be Prevented?

Here are some of the things pet parents can do to prevent hip and joint problems in cats:

  • Keep your kitty at a healthy weight. Avoid feeding your cat freely. You may opt for puzzle feeders to allow your cat to forage for food. This also promotes physical activity.
  • Encourage moderate play sessions throughout the day to keep your cat’s hip muscles strong.
  • Take your cat to a veterinarian for regular checkups.
  • Avoid breeding cats that are thought to be genetically predisposed to conditions like hip dysplasia.

If you love large cat breeds, you can look for a breeder who does OFA hip screenings on their cats. 

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