Common in older animals, osteoarthritis in cats can also manifest itself early. Certain breeds more prone to joint pathologies are thus considered to be predisposed.
Cat breeds prone to osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis in cats affects nearly 80% of cats over 11 years old. All breeds can therefore be affected. Some are considered predisposed because they are more at risk of developing certain pathologies that promote osteoarthritis:
- Big cats;
- Breeds prone to dysplasia;
- Hypertypes, these cats with distinctive features pushed 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 hereditary genetic disease disrupts tissue development, causing an asymmetry between the bone and its cavity. The deformity appears gradually as the disease develops and leads to inflammation of the joint. This damages the ligaments, bones and cartilage, promoting the appearance of osteoarthritis.
Like dogs, feline dysplasia can affect the shoulder or elbow, but more often affects the hip. Early screening may be advised by the veterinarian, especially for breeds at risk. It is carried out by X-ray, from a minimum of twelve months, eighteen for Maine Coon* cats. The result is then classified from stage A for normal hips without signs of disease, to stage E in the event of severe dysplasia.
Heredity in cat dysplasia
A cat can be a carrier of the genes involved in the appearance of dysplasia without the disease manifesting itself. Several environmental factors are thus considered to favor its development: rapid growth, very intense activity or too rich a diet.
Which cat breeds are more prone to dysplasia?
Dysplasia can affect all cats, regardless of breed. However, some are more frequently affected. Among them are:
What is the hypertype involved in cat osteoarthritis?
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 farm animals selected to produce more meat, milk, eggs… Favored by some farms 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 the Persian, the Burmese or the Exotic Shorthair. In the Scottish Fold, the gene responsible for folded ears can cause malformations for homozygous individuals (possessing 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 domestic cat breeds, is one of the most affected hypertypes: the animal’s weight accelerates joint wear, while its large size predisposes it to dysplasia.
The 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 favoring osteoarthritis. Fluid builds up in the joint, compresses the tissues and eventually damages the cartilage. Arthritis, designating inflammation of the joints, can thus degenerate into osteoarthritis.
- Fractures, dislocations and dislocations can lead to bone or joint deformation which accelerates cartilage wear. Certain breeds of cat are more likely to be victims: dislocation of the patella, for example, is found more often in Abyssinians or Devon Rex.
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When an animal is considered predisposed to cat osteoarthritis, whatever its breed, veterinary monitoring is the first reflex to put in place. Early detection accompanied by personalized care can prevent and delay the disease as much as possible.
Article reviewed and validated by Dr Michèle Gorissen
Read also: Osteoarthritis in cats: prevention, symptoms and treatment