Arthritis in cats is arguably the most commonly reported cat heath issue… it’s estimated that nearly 90 percent of cats over the age of 12 will suffer from joint pain of some kind. Unfortunately, many times joint pain in cats can manifest in ways we may not readily recognize – reclusive behavior, litter issues or lethargy. Cats can be the most stoic of companions, so a little extra knowledge and understanding can really help this painful situation be resolved – both for your cat and your carpet.
Cats instinctively try to hide their pain or fear – it’s just part of their survival DNA. Fortunately, they are also fascinating creatures of habit – or at least patterns of behavior. I know from experience that even the most subtle change in behavior can be a big deal – so I pay attention. Some would say too much attention.
Joint pain or Arthritis in cats can manifest as such a subtle change… Cats handle their pain in the most seemingly casual ways, so while you may not notice a pronounced limp or general stiffness, you may notice that your fur boo seems more aloof or reclusive – preferring to find a sneaky spot to stay instead of coming out for normal snuggle time. Litter box issues too can be a red flag – it can be difficult to climb in and out of their tidy box when their shoulders and hips protest.
I am blessed to have had the company of my Scotch Boy for the past 18 years – and confess I’ve not always been the best, most conscientious pet parent. I was busy drinking diet Coke and enjoying fried foods so I didn’t think twice about Meow Mix or bulk litter. But even after years of bargain cat foods and table scraps, I was surprised that my spry boy wasn’t jumping from table to counter-top anymore (not that I ever encouraged that behavior). “He’s just getting old,” friends would say – likely relieved to be spared the paw print on the pizza… Sure, he had recently turned the big 1-0 when he started slowing down, but he otherwise seemed fine. No limping, no other noticeable changes – but the kitchen gymnastics were over – and it bothered me.
At the time, Jae had just started working with her family’s pet nutrition company… I had never considered ‘nutrition’ as it pertained to pets – ever before. I was defensive about my Meow Mix and downright offended when asked why we didn’t feed them wet food. Ego aside, I began to do my own research and eventually had to accept that facts are facts – and I only wish I would have looked into the foundational importance of proper nutrition earlier…
Now – 8 years later – there are no steroid shots or pain management medications… Scotch resumed his impressive acrobatics in the kitchen within mere months of changing his diet and adding the right nutritional supplements. He’s the first to wake Jae up to let her know it’s time for his treats and races down the stairs to wait for his breakfast. He may be 18, and he might like to nap a little longer than in years gone by – but he sure loves to help us cook and has no problem jumping up on top of the kitchen cabinets to supervise from above.
So while aging may seem an inevitable encroachment on the effortless mobility of our little loved ones, we, as pet parents, have innumerable resources available to reverse this curse. Degenerative joint issues can be resolved – and even avoided – without pricey vet visits or harmful side-effects of medicated management. Just as we can easily recall the ole clichés of “eat your vegetables” and “take your vitamins,” the same fundamentals are true for the fantastic fur balls that share our lives. It’s never too late to make a change – Scotch is our slightly rebellious example of the real difference real change can make. Let’s give them the real nutrition they need – and let’s enjoy them enjoying their lives for as long as we are blessed to be their guardians.