Degenerative disorders involve the progressive deterioration of the joints and are generally caused by age, injury, or a congenital defect such as hip dysplasia. They can also affect various organs and compromise how the body functions. Myelopathy is another degenerative disorder with symptoms similar to hip dysplasia. Some cats may have both disorders. Degenerative myelopathy is a disease that affects the spinal cord and causes nerve damage. Many holistic vets believe these degenerative conditions are caused by autoimmune disorders.
Degenerative disorders are characterized by the loss of cartilage within one or more joints, causing pain, stiffness, and difficulty moving. When this occurs you may notice your cat is reluctant, or unable, to jump up or down from furniture and is increasingly irritable when touched. He/she may also appear weak, in pain, or have poor coordination. Most degenerative disorders can be treated medically or surgically and the goal of treatment is to improve your cat's quality of life by minimizing pain, discomfort, and delaying progression of the disease.
- decreased activity
- occasional lameness
- stiff gait that worsens with exercise
- urinary and bowel incontinence
- loss of muscle bulk
Consider providing a step or ramp so your cat can get up and down from a favourite spot. Exercise is important for the maintenance of joint mobility and muscle tone, so encourage frequent movement. If your cat is reluctant, try using toys such as a feather or laser pointer to get them moving. Remember never to diagnose your pet or administer any product without first consulting your vet.