Recognizing pain in cats can be challenging for even the most dedicated cat parent, especially when it comes to chronic pain caused by arthritis. Even veterinarians often overlook signs of pain in cats, partly because some cats won’t show pain in a stressful situation such as being at the vet’s. Cats’ ability to hide pain goes back to their wild origins. In the wild, a sick animal becomes prey, so not showing weakness is crucial for survival.

3 in 10 cats suffer from arthritis, but only 7% of cats with arthritis receive treatment

Because the signs can be subtle, arthritis often remains untreated. As many as 3 in 10 cats suffer from this debilitating condition, but only 7% of cats with arthritis receive treatment.

Signs of arthritis

  • Your cat may be more hesitant to jump, both up or down.
  • Your cat may be reluctant to use stairs.
  • Your cat may be less playful.
  • Your cat may avoid the litter box (getting in and out of the litter box is painful).
  • Your cat may be grumpier than usual.
  • Your cat may change his eating habits.

Since some of these signs can also be indicators of other illnesses, it’s important to take your cat to your veterinarian as soon as possible for an exam and a proper diagnosis.

Cat Red Flags

Zoetis Animal Health created a wonderful website to help you learn more about understanding arthritis and what to look for to determine whether your cat may be in pain. The site is full of great information, including a checklist that lets you save and print your responses so you can share it with your veterinarian.

For more information, visit

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6 Comments on Understand the Signs of Arthritis Pain in Cats

  1. Thank you for the information. I have bookmarked the site. Sadly my beloved cat, Theo passed away from lymphoma four days ago. Among other things, he suffered from OA. One of the things he taught me was to be vigilant about cat health and this article will help.

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