Cats are natural athletes but over the years all that activity can take its toll. As a consequence your cat may be suffering from wear and tear on their joints.

According to veterinary experts, many older cats suffer from arthritis. Vets class all cats over the age of eight as ‘senior’, and cats should have annual veterinary check-ups for signs of arthritis from this time. In cats, the hips and elbows are the most commonly affected joints.


Because cats are relatively small and very agile they can hide and cover up mobility difficulties caused by arthritis. Unlike dogs, cats with arthritis don’t generally limp.

Instead, affected cats are more likely to show subtle changes in their lifestyle or behaviour. Because you know your cat best you are well placed to keep an eye out for the signs of this painful condition.

If you have noticed any of the following changes or behaviours in your cat you should contact your vet practice for advice.

Reluctance to jump up or down (e.g. onto furniture)
Reluctance to jump up or down (e.g. onto furniture)
Playing less
Playing less
Hunting less
Hunting less
Change in grooming habits
Change in grooming habits
Change in temperament (e.g. more withdrawn or grumpy)
Change in temperament (e.g. more withdrawn or grumpy)
Have you noticed your cat hesitating, or being more reluctant to jump up or down?
  • Up or down stairs
  • Onto or off the furniture
  • Through a cat flap
Have you noticed your cat slowing down?
  • Sleeping more – especially in one place
  • Stiffening up
  • Getting a bit creaky
Have you noticed deterioration in your cat's appearance?
  • Matted coat or dry/scurfy skin
  • Long nails that you can hear clipping on hard floors or that get caught in the furniture or carpet
Have you noticed any change in your cat’s attitude or daily routine?
  • Less tolerant of people
  • More withdrawn


The medical care of arthritis in cats has advanced rapidly in recent years, and with a little action on your part, there is every reason to expect that your cat can be comfortable into old age.

Your vet has prescribed Metacam to treat your cat’s arthritis. Metacam is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), which is a type of painkiller and anti-inflammatory for cats. NSAIDs are very effective at reducing the pain and stiffness that your cat may suffer from and is likely to greatly improve their quality of life.

Keep them at a healthy weight

  • As your cat can’t control what they eat and drink at home, make sure you keep them at a healthy weight to avoid extra strain on their joints.
  • If they have stiff or painful joints, they may not be able to lose weight through exercise, so less food is usually necessary.
  • Your vet can help you plan a weight reduction programme, if this is required.
  • When your cat is approaching the mature stage of their life (over 7 years old), speak with your vet about starting them on a lifestage appropriate diet. Your vet will be able to recommend a diet which is specifically designed to support your cat’s joints.

Keep them comfortable

  • Ensure your cat has a soft, warm bed to rest on.
  • Let them use ramps instead of stairs where possible – you may even want to put in a ramp up to their favourite area, such as a windowsill.
  • Make sure they can get to their food and water easily.
  • Get them a low-sided litter tray for easy access.
  • Make sure you groom them regularly, gently clean around their eyes and trim their claws, as they will find this difficult if they have stiff or painful joints.

Provide regular, gentle exercise

  • Regular, gentle exercise prevents joints from stiffening up so your cat can remain active.
  • Playing with them and giving them toys to encourage movement can help.
  • Your vet practice will be able to help with more suggestions.

Consider other therapies

  • Other therapies, such as acupuncture could be considered.
  • Your vet will be able to discuss which therapies will be most appropriate for your pet and where you will be able to find them locally.

Consider joint support supplements

Your vet may suggest that you give your cat a joint health supplement, such as Seraquin. This is a nutritional supplement containing glucosamine, chondroitin and curcumin; all of which help support the normal function of your cat’s joints.

For more information on Seraquin® and how it can support your cat’s wellbeing, ask your vet today.


If you would like to read more about cats and the conditions they suffer from as they get older, take a look at International Cat Care’s website. They are an independent charity and provide lots of useful information on all aspects of cat care.