Arthritis is a common cause of chronic pain in cats of all ages, but especially older cats. 90% of cats aged 12 and older suffer from it, but it remains an under-recognised and under-treated problem. This webinar identifies practical approaches to diagnosis and treatment, even in the face of concurrent disease such as chronic kidney disease which may be perceived as barriers to treatment. 

Learning objectives are: 

  • Know how to help owners recognise the signs of osteoarthritis in their cats 
  • Be confident in reaching a diagnosis of arthritis without the need for radiography 
  • Be familiar with the wide range of treatments available for the management of arthritis in cats 
  • Understand the risks and benefits of long term NSAID use in cats, including those with chronic kidneys disease 
  • Recognise the potential benefits of the newly licensed Anti-Nerve Growth Factor Monoclonal Antibody injection, SolensiaTM 

Martha explains that if we base our diagnosis solely on X-rays, we will be under diagnosing as more than 50% of joints with damaged cartilage show no radiological changes. 

The presentation of arthritis in cats is going to present very differently to dogs. As cats are independent creatures, they cannot afford to be weak, so they hide the pain. Another reason is that in a physical examination we do not have the opportunity to see the cat walking as we would with dogs, plus their joints are very small so it is difficult to see if there is crepitus or effusion. 

For a more accurate diagnosis, Dr Cannon recommends giving more importance to the patient’s history and the clinical signs observed by the owner, as diagnostic tests have their limitations due to the species of the patient. Another important factor to consider is the response to treatment. 

The webinar then goes on to give a list of clinical signs and videos where we can see the difference in behaviour between a healthy cat and one with arthritis. Dr Cannon teaches us to differentiate between them and to distinguish certain things that make an arthritic cat distinctive. She also provides a list of questions to ask owners to find out if their cat is presenting with abnormalities of chronic joint pain. 

We can also use the response to analgesia as a diagnostic method. Dr Martha shows us several videos demonstrating a before and after starting treatment, where there is a significant improvement in their behaviour. In addition, the webinar gives a list of treatments and medications that can be used in these cases. Part of the treatment is to modify the home environment, for example by adding steps to make it easier for them to get to the places they normally spend their time. 

It is a webinar worth watching, presenting cases, studies and videos. Dr. Cannon explains her points well, and it is an up-to-date lecture.