Osteoarthritis is a progressive disease where the articular cartilage is slowly degraded and the underlying bone reacts with remodeling and production of osteophytes. A low-grade inflammation is a major factor associated with the progression of the disease.
Most cats affected are over 10 years of age. Based on radiographic evidence 90% of cats over 12 years old are affected.
The recognition of osteoarthritis in the older cat is a major challenge for the veterinarians and the owners since lameness is not a major clinical sign of painful arthritic disease. Cats being light and agile can compensate for fairly severe orthopedic disease. They are good at masking pain and hiding signs of lameness in the veterinarian’s office. The spine, elbow and hip are the most common sites of osteoarthritis in cats.
Current treatments manage osteoarthritis in the older cat largely by alleviating symptoms and pain. However products that intercede the inflammatory pathway (omega 3) and other modalities such as physiotherapy and diet should be actively explored as therapeutic options.