Osteoarthritis is a common condition in senior cats, even though younger cats are at risk of developing it as well. It's a painful condition, but you can manage it. While medications constitute part of the management method, you can also make certain environmental changes to make sure that life for your arthritic cat is as comfortable as possible. In this post, we'll take you through those changes in detail. So, read on.
1. Invest in supportive bedding
Your arthritic cat's bed should provide adequate cushioning for its joints. Memory foam beds can work wonders in this regard. For winters, especially if it gets very cold where you live, we recommend heated beds. You can also buy heated pads separately, which you can use with your cat's existing bed. When shopping for heated beds or heated pads, make sure that you buy something that's pet-friendly. There are heated bed and pad products for humans as well, but you should steer clear of using them for your cat as they can result in severe burns.
2. Provide greater accessibility to necessities
Arthritic cats have limited mobility, which is why you should make modifications to make sure that your cat's needs aren't inaccessible. For starters, place your cat's food and water in an area that won't require your feline friend to climb and/or jump. Even tackling challenging slopes can be a struggle for arthritic cats. Additionally, consider whether your cat has any favorite elevated spaces. If it does, you can install steps or ramps to facilitate the cat's access to those places.
3. Don't forget about your cat's access to its litter box
If your arthritic cat's litter box isn't accessible, you're likely to see more cat poop outside it than inside it. Some commercial litter boxes tend to be on the taller side. If you bought something similar for your cat when it wasn't arthritic, it's time to go shopping again. You could also consider cutting out a portion of one side of the existing litter box - this would give your cat a lower point of entry and exit. Additionally, you must ensure that the litter box has enough space for your cat to turn without touching the walls, which can be painful for arthritic cats. Last but not least, consider placing multiple litter boxes throughout your home.
4. Add surfaces featuring slip-resistance
Cats diagnosed with osteoarthritis are likely to experience stability issues on surfaces such as hardwood, tile, and/or vinyl, as these surfaces are slippery. To ensure that your cat feels confident during movement, you should add slip-resistant surfaces throughout your home. Examples of slip-resistant surfaces include yoga mats, runners, and carpet treads. If you're installing carpets, make sure that you use non-slip pads and adhesive strips to keep them lying flat on the floor. Otherwise, your arthritic cat may end up tripping on the rugs as they tend to curl up - this is a possibility in cats who suffer from limited coordination and muscle weakness.
5. Massage your cat
Even after you make the environmental changes we've recommended so far, your cat may still experience severe pain due to its condition. So, make massaging your cat a part of your everyday routine. Through regular massage, you can allow your cat's sore joints and muscles to relax. If you're too busy to massage your cat on a daily basis, why not consider hiring a professional for full-body massages from time to time? Apart from making your arthritic cat feel more comfortable, massage will also go a long way toward strengthening your bond with your cat.