From Cat
Elbow osteoarthritis in a cat. Elbow and coxofemoral joints are commonly affected by osteoarthritis in obese cats

Of all skeletal disorders in cats, arthritis is probably the most common, occurring in nearly 80% of cats over 15 years of age. Arthritis does, however, occur in younger cats, often of immune-mediated or infective origin. Arthritis denotes inflammation or infection of a joint. There are many types of arthritis and their causes; such as 'wear and tear' degenerative disease, infection (bacteria and viruses), invasion of a joint by cancer and congenital (hip dysplasia, etc).

Cats do not appear to form as much radiographic pathology as other species, and so the absence of obvious signs do not preclude the presence of degenerative changes that may be associated with pain[1].

Telltale signs of arthritis in cats include reduced ability to climb or jump, intermittent ataxia, reduced grooming resulting in a poor, unkempt coat, lameness, lumbosacral pain and discomfort when posturing to urinate or defecate, sometimes resulting in inappropriate elimination[2].

Common causes of arthritis in cats, include:

  • Polyarthritis
- Degenerative joint disease (DJD) - old cats with symptoms of arthritis
- Discospondylitis
- Polyarthropathy/Stomatitis in kittens - a well-recognised caliciviral syndrome in kittens
- Rickets
- Nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism
  • Localized arthritis
- Patellar luxation
- Hip dysplasia
- Intervertebral disc disease

More rare causes of arthritis in cats include:


  1. Lascelles, D & Robertson, S (2010) DJD-associated pain in cats. JFMS 12:200-212
  2. Malik, R & Sparkes, A (2010) Synovial osteochondroma: an uncommon manifestation of a common disease. JFMS 12:367-368
  3. Tan, C et al (2010) Synovial osteochondroma involving the elbow of a cat. JFMS 12:412-417