Degenerative Joint Disease In Cats: What Do You Need To Know About It?


Osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease in cats is referred to as the permanent and progressive long-term deterioration of the cartilage that surrounds the joints. Further, arthritis is a medical terminology for the inflammation of the joints. On the other hand, osteoarthritis is the term that denotes a form of chronic joint inflammation due to a deterioration of the joint cartilage. In this article, we will be discussing more about this feline condition –read on to this article to learn more!

Degenerative Joint Disease in Cats: What is this feline condition?

A cat that has DJD or Degenerative Joint Disease might show reluctance or difficulty in moving. In case the cat is older or has previously suffered from an injury, becomes less active, or appears to be limping, contact the vet for some examinations.

Moreover, degenerative joint disease in cats or osteoarthritis is a chronic condition due to the loss of the smooth cartilage that’s found in the joint. When the cartilage cushion wears away, the bones start to rub against one another. This is what leads to pain and inflammation. Further, osteoarthritis may be a normal part of the wears and tears of aging, or the effect of a joint or injury abnormality.

There are two types of degenerative joint disease in cats, they are as follows:

  • Primary Degenerative Joint Disease –with this kind of DJD, there is actually no known underlying cause. This shows mostly in the older cats because of age-related degeneration.
  • Secondary Degenerative Joint Disease –this kind of DJD happens as the result of another condition, including a congenital or genetic abnormality or an injury

Causes of DJD in Cats

With the primary degenerative joint disease in cats, there is no primary cause. Furthermore, the arthritis develops from the normal wear and tear due to aging. On the other hand, the secondary degenerative disease might arise from different causes.

Moreover, congenital or genetic abnormalities –some cat breeds are more prone to the conditions like patellar luxation or dysplasia, which may contribute to the condition.

  • Obesity –an increase in the weight on the joints may increase the effects of some other causative factors.
  • Injuries –dislocations, traumas, and fractures to the joints or bones may lead to joint disease,

Symptoms of DJD in Cats

Because of the relatively small size and light weight, cats commonly tolerate degenerative joint disease in cats better than dogs or even humans. The symptoms might be more subtle than the other animals. In case you suspect that your own cat is developing arthritis, watch for the following signs:

  • Avoiding contact with animals or people
  • Irritability when stoked or handled
  • Poor grooming
  • Difficulty in using the litter box
  • Reluctance or refusal to jump up or down
  • Stiffness, especially after resting or sleeping
  • Difficulty in going up or down the stairs
  • Reduced activity

Prognosis of DJD in Cats

In case you suspect that the cat has a DJD, contact the vet. Since cats may generally be resistant to being handled, it may be hard to diagnose arthritis due to just a physical examination. The doctor may want a complete account of the observations, in order to help confirm the existence of degenerative joint disease in cats. Let the vet know if the cat has been going outside its litter box, isolating from other animals and people, or spending time resting or laying. Additionally, you also need to include details about whether the cat has changing sleeping areas, in order to avoid climbing or jumping, appears to be slow or stiff when getting up, or has seemed to be more temperamental.

Moreover, the examination may involve manipulating, as well as palpating the joints, in order to check for any signs of discomfort and pain. For a conclusive diagnosis, the vet might choose to x-ray the affected limbs for the signs of the condition. Even though it is not necessary to diagnose arthritis, the doctor might also run some blood tests in screening for any underlying causes, as well as to make sure that the cat can tolerate certain medications.

Treatment for DJD in Cats

In the actual fact, there I currently no known treatment for the degenerative joint disease in cats. Nonetheless, there are some ways that you can control the level of pain the cat feels, as well as help in slowing the progression of the condition, with a combination of medications, alternative treatments, dietary supplements, diet, and environmental changes, you might be able to help improve the cat’s quality of life.

Furthermore, physical therapy designed for the maintenance or increase of the joint motion is so essential and might be done with some motion exercises, massage, and swimming. The exercise designed in strengthening the muscle tone is also beneficial, just like wearing heat pads.

You need to keep on monitoring the symptoms of the cat, as the degenerative joint disease in cats is likely to progress with time.


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