If you have noticed signs of pain in your Maine Coon, arthritis could be the culprit.
This degenerative disease is unfortunately common in cats, but there are ways to manage the discomfort.
Arthritis is a degenerative disease that causes the cartilage between bones and joints to wear thin. This causes inflammation and pain in the joints, which can make it harder for the affected cat to get around or play. Arthritis in cats can be managed to reduce discomfort, but there is no cure.
If you have noticed signs of pain or discomfort in your cat like limping, a decrease in activity, or an inability to jump, then your cat could be suffering from arthritis.
Thankfully, there are a lot of treatment options available to reduce your cat’s discomfort.
Read on to find out what you can do to help your cat with arthritis.
Maine Coon Arthritis
The Maine Coon is a large, hardy breed that originated in the state of Maine.
Today, they have become increasingly popular for their huge size and gentle personality.
While Maine Coons are generally considered one of the healthiest cat breeds, they can still suffer from injuries and ailments.
Arthritis is a degenerative disease, which means it gets worse over time.
Like humans, cats have layers of cartilage between their joints, which provides a cushion for regular movement.
Arthritis causes this cartilage to wear thin, which in turn causes bones to rub against one another, leading to serious pain and inflammation.
Unfortunately, arthritis in Maine Coon cats is relatively common.
Some research shows that 45% of all domestic cats suffer from arthritis, and as many as 90% of cats aged ten or older suffer from arthritis as well.
Cats are most likely to develop arthritis in the:
Normally, arthritis develops as cat age, like in humans.
Sudden onset arthritis in cats is known as Septic Arthritis and is caused by a bacterial or viral infection.
This condition is rare, but if your cat shows sudden symptoms of arthritis, then you should visit the vet as soon as possible.
While any cat can suffer from arthritis, several risk factors can increase the likelihood of a cat developing arthritis.
Here are some conditions that can make your cat more likely to develop arthritis in the future:
Keeping your cat at a healthy weight is important for its long-term health.
Obese cats put a lot more strain on their joints, causing cartilage to deteriorate more quickly.
Hip dysplasia is a relatively common condition in Maine Coons.
Cats with this condition have an improperly shaped femoral head, the part of the femur that rotates in the hip joint.
As the cat walks, the femur grinds into the hip, eventually wearing away the bone and causing the joint to become loose and painful.
Cats with this condition are more likely to develop arthritis, particularly in the areas affected by their hip dysplasia.
In some cases, cats may inherit arthritis from their parents.
If you are getting your Maine Coon from a breeder, you should ask about the cat’s parents and grandparents.
Sometimes, though, there is no way to tell if your cat will genetically inherit arthritis.
A cat that has not been provided adequate nutrition is more likely to develop arthritis.
Cats require food that is mostly made up of animal protein. Protein is essential to the development of muscles.
If a cat’s nutrition is poor enough, it will not be able to develop strong enough muscles or a strong enough immune system to fight off inflammation.
If your cat has broken or sprained a limb in the past, it will be more likely to develop arthritis in that area.
While surgery can be life-changing or even life-saving, it also puts a lot of stress on the body.
If your cat has had surgery on its bones, ligaments, tendons, or joints, it is more likely to develop arthritis in those areas (source 1).
Signs Of Arthritis In Cats
If you want to know how to tell if cat has arthritis, you will need the help of a vet to determine for sure, but there are many signs you can keep an eye out for.
Here are some potential signs your cat may have arthritis:
1. Weight Loss
Some cats with arthritis experience a reduced appetite, and may lose weight suddenly as a result.
2. Poor Grooming
Cats with arthritis often have a difficult time reaching every part of their body while grooming.
If your cat’s fur has become matted, tangled, dull, or dirty, it might have arthritis preventing it from grooming properly.
3. Reduced Activity
Since many cats develop arthritis during their senior years, it can be difficult to gauge if your cat’s reduced activity is due to old age or pain.
If your cat shows interest in toys but does not get up to play, it is a sign that your cat has the energy to play but the movement is too painful.
4. Inappropriate Litter Box Usage
If your cat has begun to go outside of the litter box, it could be a sign that your cat is experiencing too much pain to get in and out of the litter box.
You may need to remove the lid of your litter box or get a shallow litter pan instead.
You could also add a ramp to the litter box so your cat doesn’t have to jump in and out.
5. No Jumping
Most cats love to climb, and Maine Coons are especially famous for loving high places.
If your cat has stopped resting at the top of the cat tree, or no longer joins you on the couch, it may be because it is too painful to jump.
This is also one of the signs of arthritis in cats back legs.
If you are wondering how high can Maine Coon cats jump, read this.
6. Increased Aggression
Many cat owners think their cat has suddenly started hating them when symptoms of arthritis begin.
This is because a cat with arthritis cannot use words to explain that it is hurting, and will resort to hissing or lashing out when it is been touched in a painful spot.
The discomfort caused by arthritis can also make a cat much crankier in general, even if you have not touched a sore spot.
Here are some other causes of aggression in Maine Coon cats.
7. Walking Stiffly
Since cats are quadrupedal, they are less likely to limp from arthritis than humans.
However, you may notice that your cat gets up or sits down more slowly, or that your cat’s limbs look more stiff and angular while walking or moving.
8. Swollen Joints
In some cases, the swelling of a cat’s joints can be visible to the naked eye.
Since Maine Coons have such thick fur, though, it can be difficult or even impossible to see any swelling.
Cats with arthritis tend to experience more pain when they are picked up or cuddled, and they may be reluctant to play with other pets in the house.
How Do Vets Diagnose Arthritis In Cats?
Diagnosing arthritis in cats can be tricky for a number of reasons.
So, the vet will need to make a more thorough medical examination to determine if the cat’s symptoms are truly due to arthritis.
Since they walk on four legs, it is easier for them to distribute weight more evenly across their limbs, so they might not limp while walking.
Cats are generally less friendly and cooperative at the vet than dogs.
It can be difficult for a vet to tell if your cat is flinching out of fear or pain. Cats also show pain much more subtly than dogs.
If you tell your vet that you suspect your cat has arthritis, then your vet will first do a physical examination of your cat’s joints.
The vet might listen for crunching or grinding noises as the cat moves. The vet will probably touch your cat’s joints gently in search of swelling.
After a physical examination, your veterinarian will want to get an x-ray of your cat.
This will enable your vet to see physical abnormalities like bony outgrowths or thickening of tissues.
If the X-rays point to arthritis, then your vet will help you come up with a treatment plan to manage your cat’s discomfort.
Arthritis Treatment For Cats
When it comes to arthritis in cats, home remedies will not do anything.
Arthritis can only be treated by medical professionals.
Treatment for arthritis in cats depends on the cat’s age, body condition, and the severity of the arthritis.
Below are some ways to treat arthritis in Maine Coon cats:
If your cat is overweight, your vet will want to put together a plan to help your cat lose weight.
This will put less strain on your cat’s joints and slow the progression of its arthritis.
Since some cats with arthritis experience weight loss, your vet might want to up your cat’s food intake, too.
This checklist helps you determine if your Maine Coon cat is overweight, or not.
Physical therapy strengthens the muscles and joints, and it is a great way for your cat to get exercise without experiencing pain.
Some vets recommend exercises underwater, which is much easier on the joints. Whereas others also recommend acupuncture or massage for pain management.
One of the most common forms of treatment for arthritis is pain medication. For younger, stronger cats, vets usually prescribe NSAIDs like meloxicam.
If these medications do not work, then your vet might prescribe a corticosteroid.
Vets often prescribe Gabapentin in tandem with NSAIDs or corticosteroids to ensure your cat does not experience too much discomfort.
A more recent option for pain management is through an injection known as Solensia.
This injection has to be administered monthly, so the cat arthritis injection cost may not be doable for some owners.
However, the cost of Solensia varies based on your location, and the cost is greatly reduced if you have the right pet insurance.
Some vets recommend supplements like glucosamine, which provide extra support for your cat’s bones and cartilage.
Omega-3 fatty acids are another common supplement recommended by vets. Some vets even recommend CBD for pain management.
In more severe cases, your vet may recommend surgery.
Surgery can be used to change the shape of the femoral head if it is grinding against the cat’s hips.
Vets can also perform surgery to treat fused joints in the wrist.
However, surgery is an invasive experience that can take a toll on any cat, especially senior cats (source 1).
How To Help Cat With Arthritis
If you want to learn how to help cat with arthritis pain at home, there are many things you can do to improve your cat’s quality of life!
Here are some things you can do to ease your cat’s discomfort (provided your cat is also receiving medical care from a vet):
1. Ramps And Stools
While there are many ways you can manage arthritis pain, you will not be able to fix the problem completely.
As a result, your cat will likely have mobility issues, and may not be able to:
- Jump to its favorite sleeping spot
- Climb the stairs
- Join you in bed at night
You can make your home more accessible to your cat by adding ramps and stools so your cat can reach places more easily.
2. Change The Litter Box
Many cats with arthritis are unable to climb in and out of the litter box and may stop using the litter box altogether.
Simply removing the lid of the litter box can be accommodation enough.
However, some owners find they need to get a shallower pan or add a ramp so their cat does not have to climb or jump to use the litter box.
3. Move Resources Closer Together
If you live in a house with multiple floors, you should keep all of your cat’s necessities on the same floor.
It is also a good idea to keep your cat’s litter box, food, and water all nearby so your cat does not have to wander all over when it is hungry or thirsty.
In our experience, buying raised food and water bowls helps our cat since he does not have to bend over to eat or drink.
If your home is covered in slippery wood floors or tiles, this will make it a lot more difficult for your cat to get around painlessly.
You should consider adding carpets, rugs, or other soft, grippy surfaces so your cat can walk without sliding.
5. Softly Padded Beds
As your cat’s arthritis worsens, it will become increasingly painful to rest on hard surfaces.
Make sure your cat has access to lots of soft, thickly padded beds.
You can also get pet beds made from memory foam.
What To Feed Cats With Arthritis?
Your vet might recommend a prescription diet that is specifically formulated for cats with arthritis.
It is also a good idea to provide plenty of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Finally, you can feed your cat this joint health supplement sold on Amazon, since it contains glucosamine, a supplement known to support cartilage and bones.
How To Carry A Cat With Arthritis
There is no single way to carry a cat with arthritis, as arthritis can affect many different parts of the body.
In any case, you will always want to make sure your cat’s body is fully supported.
Cats feel very frightened and insecure if you pick them up without supporting their hind legs.
To pick up a cat with arthritis, you should be very slow and gentle.
You should experiment with different methods of picking up and holding your cat until you find a way where your cat seems secure and comfortable.
In more severe cases, some cats with arthritis should not be picked up at all.
How Long Can A Cat Live With Arthritis?
While arthritis is a degenerative disease, a cat will not die from arthritis.
However, it can make life increasingly painful as it worsens.
Sadly, this means that some owners need to consider euthanasia if their cat’s arthritis is impacting its quality of life (source 1).
This is the average life expectancy of a Maine Coon cat without arthritis.
When Is It Time To Put Down A Cat With Arthritis?
Euthanasia is the most difficult choice a cat owner can make, but it is sometimes necessary for cats with arthritis.
Since the main symptoms of arthritis are pain and inflammation, you should assess your cat’s quality of life before deciding to euthanize.
If your cat’s mobility is so restricted by its arthritis that it can no longer get up to eat or use the litter box, then sadly it might be time to say goodbye.
Does your cat have more days filled with pain and lethargy than days filled with happiness and enjoyment?
If so, then your cat’s quality of life may be low enough to consider euthanasia.
On the other hand, if your cat still shows interest and enjoyment in life, then you may have many long months or years left to spend with your pet.
If your cat is still able to play or join you for cuddles, then it is unlikely it needs to be euthanized.
Overall, euthanasia is a difficult and personal choice. While some vets may recommend euthanasia, you do not have to let go before you are ready to.
However, it is best to think about the happiness or pain that your cat is experiencing daily and make your decision based on your cat’s well-being (source 1).
Maine Coon arthritis is a painful condition that causes inflammation of the joints.
Cats with arthritis can still live long, happy lives, but they often need some kind of pain management.
Many cats with arthritis have reduced mobility, so you may need to add ramps or rugs to your home to make it easier for your cat to navigate.