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How to Help A Cat with Arthritis at Home: 12 Vet-Approved Ideas

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By Nicole Cosgrove

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Dr. Luqman Javed

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As your cat gets older, they can experience a handful of ailments, and one of the most common conditions is arthritis. Arthritis is an umbrella term that refers to an inflammation of one or more joints. Many different conditions can result in arthritic joints. Generally speaking, arthritis is painful and makes normal joint movement difficult. If you have a feline companion suffering from arthritis at home, there are many things you can do to help them feel more comfortable.

Sadly, there is no specific cure for arthritis, and instead, treatment or management plans involve a combination of medicine, weight reduction, exercise programs, or surgery. The aim of such programs is to provide your cat a better quality of life. That being said, there are steps you can take to help out your arthritic kitty. In this article, we’ll share some expert ideas so you can easily help your arthritic cat feel more comfortable at home.

The 12 Ideas on How to Help A Cat with Arthritis at Home

1. Easy Access to Favorite Spots and Necessary Areas

Arthritis will make moving a lot more uncomfortable for your cat, and all the spots their nimble body could once reach will now be a lot more of a challenge. To help make things easier and more comfortable for your cat, consider relocating their items of necessity, such as their bowl, bed, and toys to a more accessible location.

Place your cat’s food and water bowl in a location that is much easier to reach and doesn’t require any acrobatic skills on your cat’s behalf. If your cat’s favorite spot to nap is elevated, you don’t have to take that away; you can easily add a ramp or steps to assist your cat in getting to their favorite spot.

man holding cat bowl
Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

2. Accessible Litter Box

Having an accessible litter box is essential for all cats, including individuals dealing with arthritis. Because arthritis can limit your cat’s mobility, accidents will be more likely to happen if your cat cannot easily access their litter box.

Many commercial litter boxes are too tall and require a small jump to get in and out. A cat battling with arthritis will need to step into the litter box easily, so one side needs to be low enough. With this in mind, many companies now manufacture litter boxes with easy access ramps or lower points of entry to accommodate such individuals. Switching to such a box may help your kitty.

Litter boxes should also be wide enough so your cat can comfortably turn around without touching the sides. A kitty with arthritis might be reluctant to dig in a litter box where they constantly hit their paws or body against the walls of the box.

Ideally, the number of litter boxes in your house should be 1 more than the total number of cats you have. If you live in a multiple story house, litter boxes should be available on every floor.


Cats are generally habitual, and a change in litter box habits is usually the first observable sign of an underlying issue (such as arthritis). Any changes in your cat’s litter box habits should be immediately brought to your vet’s attention. An inability to use their litter box as they previously did can stress cats out to an extent where other issues, complications,  and ailments easily set in.

3. Slip Resistance Surfaces

Arthritic cats may have a difficult time walking over slippery surfaces such as tiles, vinyl, and marble. If your cat slips on such surfaces, they may injure themselves. They may also become fearful of the spot where they slipped and as a result become fearful when brought out near the same place again. Unfortunately, this means your arthritic cat might get more stressed and quickly try to escape from the area again, possibly causing even more issues.

You can help your cat feel more secure by adding slip-resistant surfaces to the areas where it walks the most. You can use something as simple as a slip-proof yoga mat, or you can go all out and add carpeting.

Be mindful of your floor rugs as well. A cat battling with arthritis may drag their paws and trip over rugs that have curled on the edges. Consider putting adhesive strips underneath your rugs to keep them flat and in place.

A small cat is walking around an empty new apartment
Image Credit: iwciagr, Shutterstock

4. Supportive Bed

As your cat ages, they will need a more supportive bed. This is especially true for arthritic cats. Look for an orthopedic cat bed or memory foam mattress to help take pressure off and support their joints while they nap. By providing an orthopedic bed, your cat will be in less pain, which will ensure better sleep and a happier cat.

Your cat’s arthritic pain may also increase during cold weather, so if the temperature has dropped, ensure your cat has warm blankets and a comfortable sleeping spot.

Observing our pets can help us make better decisions for them. If your cat has a preference for a certain type of fabric, cushion material, or bed, try purchasing an arthritic bed for them made of the same material. Alternately, you may start a DIY project to do so.

5. Grooming

Grooming is a natural activity for cats, and they spend a lot of their time grooming themselves. You may have noticed their impressive acrobatic postures during one of their grooming sessions. A cat with arthritis won’t be able to groom themselves as they used to, and they would most likely appreciate some help from you. As a bonus, this can help strengthen their bond with you as well!

You can help by brushing and cleaning their coat and clipping their nails. Cats with arthritis often have overgrown nails because they can no longer scratch on posts. Regularly clip their nails to prevent them from growing too long. If they get too long, they can make walking hurt even more, and if they grow into the skin, they may cause an infection.

Woman brushing a gray cat
Image Credit: Sergey Gerashchenko, Shutterstock


6. Therapeutic Diet and Supplements

Your cat’s diet may need to be modified to support symptoms of arthritis and provide extra vitamins and minerals where necessary. Some prescription diets are available for arthritis which typically include omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin. Always consult with your veterinarian or a feline nutritionist before offering your cat such a diet.
Your vet may also prescribe additional supplements to help support your feline friend. The most common joint supplements are glucosamine and chondroitin, which help support the cartilage through repair and maintenance. Essential fatty acid supplements can also help with their anti-inflammatory effects.

7. Moderate Exercise

Exercise will naturally be more uncomfortable for your cat with arthritis, but no exercise at all won’t help with their weight or discomfort. Arthritic cats can enjoy moderate exercise that will benefit and maintain a normal range of motion for their arthritic joints. It is best to ask an animal physiotherapist or your veterinarian to formulate an exercise plan suitable for your arthritic cat.

Girl playing with her cat
Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

8. Manage Your Cats Weight

Managing your cat’s weight is extremely important and will significantly help your cat feel more comfortable at home. If your cat is overweight, they will exert greater stress and pressure on their arthritic joints, leading to more pain and discomfort. Weight loss can significantly lessen the amount of pain an arthritic cat may be feeling.

In addition, fat tissue naturally produces a hormone called leptin. Prolonged exposure to consistently high levels of leptin causes low grade chronic inflammation over time, which may both perpetuate and exacerbate arthritis in your kitty.
You can manage your cat’s weight by speaking to your veterinarian about an appropriate diet & exercise plan if your cat is overweight.

It is important to note that the mechanics of fasting are very difficult in cats when compared to humans. NEVER fast your cat in an attempt to assist with weight loss.

9. Massage

When done correctly, a gentle massage may help your cat feel more comfortable and pain-free, even for a moment. Using specific and therapeutic techniques, you can manipulate the soft tissue to relieve pain. While it is best done by a professional, you can learn some simple and safe methods to use on your cat at home. A massage session with your cat will help ease their pain and strengthen your trust and bond, which is beneficial in its own way.

cat kneading and purring while lying on owner's lap
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

10. Heating Pads

A heated pad can significantly reduce your cat’s discomfort, especially in the colder months when the pain may feel more intense. The warmth of the heated pad may encourage blood circulation through the stiff muscles. Many types are available, but it is essential only to use heated pads approved for use with pets. Never place your cat directly on a heating pad (it needs to be covered with something like a towel). In addition, always ensure your cat has a way of easily getting away from the heated fabric if they’re feeling too warm. This is especially important for cats that are temporarily placed in a box, cage, or crate after a procedure.

Heating pads may not always be available or easy to use. They also shouldn’t be left on without supervision. You may consider an alternative to keeping your cat warmer, such as: clothes designed for them, a sweater, blanket, or controlling the temperature in their room when it’s cold outside, and keeping them away from drafts or vents.

11. Help With Transport

It goes without saying that your arthritic kitty might find climbing up stairs difficult. If you live in a multiple story house, your cat will appreciate a transport service where you gently carry them around so they may enjoy your company without having to endure the pain of a stair climb to receive it.

Likewise, trips to the veterinarian for a check up might be more difficult in a normal cat carrier for your kitty. Consider purchasing a soft blanket, pillow, or other bedding for their carrier to ensure that these trips are as comfortable as possible.

man holding scottish fold gray tabby cat
Image Credit; Standret, Shutterstock

12. Medication

Prescription medications can help control inflammation, slow the progression of arthritis, support the joints and cartilage, and relieve pain. These are safe medications that your vet can prescribe to help your cat feel more comfortable.

What Causes Arthritis in Cats?

In cats, arthritis is usually the result of ongoing wear and tear and instability of the joints. Other factors that may exacerbate the condition include injury, infection, immune disease, and cancer. Some cats may have a genetic or breed predisposition; examples of such breeds include the Scottish Fold, Maine Coon, Burmese, and Abyssinian.

Cat sleeping on the arms of a woman
Image Credit: Aga Maszota, Pixabay

Treatment of Arthritis in Cats

Unfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis in cats, so management is the only way to treat it. If your cat’s arthritis is properly managed, it can slow down the progression and reduce pain and discomfort. Obesity is the number one concern for arthritic cats since the extra weight puts unnecessary pressure on the joints. Your vet can help with a diet that can assist in weight loss and determine the right food and caloric intake that your cat needs.

Other treatment options include supplements and medicine, various therapies, and surgery.


While there is no cure for arthritis in cats, it can be managed to reduce pain and discomfort so that your cat can still live a happy life. Helping your cat with arthritis at home involves making various changes and adjustments to suit your cat’s lifestyle at home. The top priority is maintaining your cat’s weight to reduce pressure on the joints. Providing orthopedic bedding, pain-reducing medication, easy access to necessary items, supplementation to improve joint health, and lots of patience and care can go a long way in helping your arthritic cat at home.

Featured Image Credit: Stiva Urban, Shutterstock

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