Stiff and Painful Joints - Cats


Improve Mobility and Reduce Pain

The Signs

Stiff joints can have an overall impact on your cat’s general health and quality of life. By knowing how to spot the signs you can take action early in order to help improve your cat’s mobility and reduce discomfort and pain.
Signs that your cat may have stiff joints include:

  • Decreased activity
  • Hesitates to jump on or off surfaces
  • Misses the litter tray or toilets inappropriately
  • Walks stiffly or limps
  • No longer wants to go outside
  • Rarely interacts with people and hisses if approached
  • Spends less time grooming which leads to matting of its coat
  • Rarely purrs or shows signs of contentment
  • Reluctant to play
  • Shows pain when touched

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Understanding Stiff Joints

Stiff joints are often the result of increased wear and tear to the joints themselves (degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis). The cartilage of the joint (that is the tough material that both protects the bone in the joint and acts to cushion any shock to the joint), can wear away quicker than it can be replaced. This leads to pain and stiffness and eventually bony changes within the joint which can seriously affect the cat’s mobility.

Although stiff arthritic joints are not curable, the good news is that there are things that can be done to help improve your cat’s mobility and reduce pain and discomfort.


What causes stiff joints?

There are many reasons why your cat could be suffering from stiff, painful joints:

  • Age

As cats get older, joint cartilage will progressively wear away. Though it is much more common in cats over 7 years of age, young cats can suffer from stiff joints, too.

  • Breed

Certain breeds are more prone to developing stiff joints. ‘At-risk’ cat breeds include Himalayans, Persians and Siamese.

  • Excess weight

Excess weight means excess stress on the joints and cartilage, this increases the risk of joint damage leading to painful osteoarthritis..

  • Congenital or hereditary defects

Some breeds may have congenital or hereditary conditions that make them more prone to developing stiff joints later in life.

  • Accidents or trauma

Trauma to cartilage may lead to stiff joints later in life and adversely affect mobility.

What can be done to help your cat? Although there is no cure for stiff joints there is still much that can be done to reduce the symptoms and the earlier that action is taken the better the results and the better the quality of life for your pet:

  • Physiotherapy
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Weight Loss



Hill’s Prescription Diet j/d for cats

  • Is clinically proven to help your cat walk, run and jump better. See the difference in as little as 28 days!
  • It helps reduce discomfort and may allow the dosage of painkillers to be reduced
  • This also reduces the risk of harmful side effects associated with the long term prescription of some painkillers
  • Is clinically proven alternative to glucosamine supplements that can slow the cycle of deterioration and help your cat retain more cartilage

The effectiveness of Hill’s Prescription Diet j/d is due to its high level of Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular EPA. j/d is easy to feed as it is a complete cat food with guaranteed great taste that your cat will love.

That’s why Hill’s™ Prescription Diet™ j/d™ is the very convenient, safe and effective long term nutritional solution for your cat’s stiff and painful joints.

Hill’s Prescription Diet j/d has been through exhaustive scientific testing and studies carried out in conjunction with independent experts and organizations throughout the world.

Hill's Prescription Diet j/d is now also enriched with high levels of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulphate. Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulphate are two important building blocks of joint cartilage. Cartilage undergoes a constant process of breakdown and repair. It is important to support repair by increasing the supply of these building blocks.



However, just because your cat is experiencing stiff joints, that’s usually no reason to stop playing with her and encouraging her to exercise. In fact, gentle exercise is extremely good for her, both to keep her joints moving freely and to make sure she stays at a healthy weight.


Hydrotherapy via an underwater treadmill can be used in the treatment of arthritis in cats and dogs. Older animals can exercise effectively on the underwater treadmill. The water in the underwater treadmill creates buoyancy which helps reduce the stress on joints while minimising pain and allows easier movement and extended range of movement for stiff joints and increases muscle strength and endurance. Whilst the warmth of the water assists in pain reduction and increases blood flow which helps promote healing.
Even though the underwater treadmill is most commonly used for dogs it is surprising how most cats will accept it with very little initial anxiety.


Weight Loss

Excess weight puts extra stress and pressure on the joints and cartilage. Maintaining a healthy weight can have a large impact on a cat’s mobility and improve its quality of life. If your cat would benefit from losing weight you’ll be invited to our Free Weight Management Clinic. When the weight loss plans are followed strictly a weekly weight loss of up to 1% is achievable.

Score your cat’s mobility now

1. Sparkes A, Allen TA, Fritsch D, and Hahn KA. Effective dietary management of spontaneous appendicular osteoarthritis in cats. Unpublished. j/d™ dry food only.