Arthritis…the “Silent Disease”

Mama Cat is a lovely, set in her ways 18 year-old gray and white kitty who used to roam 20 acres. She would go out daily on the lookout for bugs, lizards and, maybe if she was lucky, a mouse or two for some dessert. Over the last several years her trips outside have become less and less frequent and she’s started sleeping more. Now she also seems to take longer to settle into a comfortable spot to sleep. Tom is a stout 9 year-old black cat who loves to survey his surroundings and act as “king of the jungle” in his home. His favorite places to be are up high – on top of the refrigerator, the bookshelf in the living room, and the top of his cat tower. Recently, though, he seems to have trouble jumping from the floor straight to the top of the tower. He needs several steps to make his way to the top, and sometimes he falls during his attempts to jump. Pepper is a beautiful 13 year-old brown tabby that was as clean as clean can be regarding her litter box habits. She would scoff at the cat that would not use a litter box to go to the bathroom. However, lately she’s been seen defecating just outside of the litter box. She would really like to go in the box, but she just can’t climb in anymore.

Each one of these greatly loved feline members of the family is suffering from the same “silent” disease…Osteoarthritis. As a veterinarian, arthritis is one of the disease processes that we see the most. It is also one of the diseases that remains undiagnosed because the symptoms can be very subtle. Because our pets cannot talk, we often have to look at other signals that tell us if arthritis is present. Symptoms like sleeping more; getting up slower; failing to want to exercise, to jump up to high surfaces, to climb things or to play with a favorite toy; urinating or defecating near (but not in) the litter box, and having difficulty getting into a comfortable sleeping position are often subtle signs of the onset of arthritis. Many of these symptoms are dismissed as “normal” aging changes. While it may be normal to see wear and tear on our pet’s joints, that doesn’t mean we cannot do anything about slowing the process down and treating the pain associated with arthritis. Each one of the scenarios above represents a real patient that we have successfully treated at Southside for arthritis. In each situation, we were able to employ a number of ways to treat arthritis such as: medications, supplements (oral and injections), Laser therapy treatments and diet changes. In each case, we were able to give the pet their life back. These therapies can not only improve the quality of our pet’s lives, but can also help them live longer as well by slowing down the progression of symptoms.

If your pet is exhibiting any of these signs or is just getting a little older and you want to have them checked out, please come into our clinic for an “arthritis” exam. If you suspect your pet is suffering from the pain, debilitation and decreased quality of life associated with arthritis, please give us a call as soon as possible so that we can help your furry family member get his/her life back!


Drs. Flanagan, Winkler and White