Feline Arthritis


Smokey, 12 year old, domestic short hair, brown tabby

Presenting Complaint:

Smokey came to see Dr Kraft due to some changes noticed by her owner. Her owner indicated that Smokey seemed a little stiff and sometimes wobbly in her backend. They thought she was getting around okay but upon further questioning Smokey was not jumping up to her favourite chair as much and seemed less active and less social with the family.


Dr Kraft performed a comprehensive physical examination of Smokey, that also included a thorough orthopedic evaluation. His findings revealed that Smokey had reduced muscling of her hind limbs, but she still had very good range of motion of her joints. Pain was difficult to assess, as it is in most cats, because Smokey would wiggle during her exam, but never cried out or reacted to Dr Kraft’s assessment. She had evidence of dental disease and was a little dehydrated, but all other body systems were normal. Some possible causes of reduced social interaction, reduced activity, muscle loss and stiffness and mild dehydration in a senior cat include: underlying organ disease (kidney or liver disease), hormonal disease (thyroid disease), degenerative joint disease (arthritis), and cancer.

Diagnostic Plan:

Dr Kraft recommended blood and urine testing to evaluate Smokey’s internal health and to determine if any of the above diseases were present.


Smokey’s test results showed mild dehydration, a common finding in elderly cats, and a mild increase in her white blood cells. She did not have evidence of any organ failure, hyperthyroid disease and no indicators of cancer. Infection did not appear likely as her blood cells were not elevated high, she did not have a fever and there were no signs suggesting an infection elsewhere in her body.

Therapeutic Plan:

Dr Kraft discussed with Smokey’s owner that he would like to treat her for degenerative joint disease as this appeared to be the most likely cause to her recent changes. The treatment included a diet change to Hill’s j/d, a therapeutic diet for the treatment of arthritis, and Cartrophen, a medication that reduces inflammation in joints and lessens pain associated with arthritis.

Final Results:

After Smokey’s first treatment with Cartrophen, her owner noticed a significant improvement. After several weeks on the Cartrophen and Hill’s j/d, she was following the owner upstairs like she used to, was much more social and interactive with people in the house, and also started to play with he other cats in the house. Previously Smokey would hiss and become upset with the other cats if they tried to engage in play with her.  Smokey’s owner also noticed that when they picked her up, she did not cry out at all. These were all signs of pain that Smokey could not tell her owners.

Smokey has lived her senior years much more pain free and with more enjoyment as she displays with play and interaction. If you have any questions about feline arthritis, or its treatment, please talk to one of our healthcare team members.

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