Common in older animals, cat osteoarthritis can also appear early. Certain breeds more prone to joint pathologies are thus considered to be predisposed.
Cat breeds predisposed to osteoarthritis
Cat arthritis affects nearly 80% of cats over 11 years old. All races can therefore be affected. Some are considered predisposed because they are more at risk of developing certain pathologies that promote osteoarthritis:
- Big cats;
- Races prone to dysplasia;
- Hypertypes, these cats with distinctive traits taken to the extreme.
The Maine Coon cat, combining all these characteristics, is therefore all the more likely to develop osteoarthritis at a young age.
What pathologies to monitor against osteoarthritis in cats?
From birth to old age, various diseases and injuries can accelerate or cause the development of osteoarthritis in cats.
Dysplasia in cats
Better known in dogs, dysplasia also affects cats. This inherited genetic disease disrupts tissue development, causing asymmetry between the bone and its cavity. The deformity gradually appears as the disease develops and leads to inflammation of the joint. This damages ligaments, bones and cartilage, promoting the onset of osteoarthritis.
Much like dogs, feline dysplasia can involve the shoulder or elbow, but more often affects the hip. Early detection may be advised by the veterinarian, especially for breeds at risk. It is carried out by radiography, from at least twelve months old, eighteen for cats of the Maine Coon * breed. The result is then graded from stage A for normal hips without signs of disease, to stage E for severe dysplasia.
Heredity in cat dysplasia
A cat can carry the genes involved in the development of dysplasia without the disease manifesting itself. Several environmental factors are thus considered to favor its development: rapid growth, very intense activity or a diet that is too rich.
Which breeds of cats are more prone to dysplasia?
Dysplasia can affect all cats, regardless of their breed. However, some are more frequently affected. Among them we find:
What is the hypertype involved in osteoarthritis in cats?
A hypertyped cat is an animal whose certain physical characteristics have been accentuated to the extreme through selective breeding. Hypertyped breeds are also found in almost all animals, for example in dogs, rabbits or horses, as well as breeding animals selected to produce more meat, milk, eggs … Favored by some breeding or by the criteria of beauty contests, this selection sometimes has serious consequences. It transforms both the genetic heritage and the morphology of the animal, to the point of causing pathologies that impact its quality of life.
Cats with a flat muzzle, or brachycephalic, are thus confronted with breathing difficulties. This is particularly the case for Persian, Burmese or exotic shorthair. In Scottish fold, the gene responsible for folded ears can cause malformations in homozygous individuals (having two identical alleles of the gene). The hairless sphynx is exposed to the cold and the sun.
Large cats are more likely to develop osteoarthritis. The Maine Coon, one of the largest breeds of domestic cats, is one of the most affected hypertypes: the animal’s weight accelerates wear and tear on the joints, while its large size predisposes it to dysplasia.
Other pathologies involved in osteoarthritis in cats
Various injuries or traumas can also induce osteoarthritis in cats, especially when not properly treated. To prevent the disease, it is essential to consult a veterinarian at the slightest sign of discomfort: pain in cats often remains discreet and sometimes difficult to spot.
- Joint inflammation is one of the causes of osteoarthritis. Fluid builds up in the joint, compresses the tissue and eventually damages the cartilage. Arthritis, denoting inflammation of the joints, can thus degenerate into osteoarthritis.
- Fractures, dislocations and dislocations can lead to bone or joint deformity which accelerates the wear and tear of the cartilage. Certain breeds of cat are more likely to be victims: dislocation of the kneecap, for example, is more often found in Abyssinians or Devon Rex.
>> Find all our content on osteoarthritis in cats
When an animal is considered to be predisposed to osteoarthritis in cats, whatever its breed, veterinary follow-up is the first reflex to put in place. Early detection accompanied by personalized care helps prevent and delay the disease as much as possible.
Article reviewed and validated by veterinarian Dr. Michèle Gorissen
Read also: Cat arthritis: prevention, symptoms and treatment