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Changes in behavior are a clinical sign of osteoarthritis in cats.
“Clinical experience suggests that the behavioral changes that accompany osteoarthritis may be either insidious and easily missed or assumed to be inevitable with advancing age, so the owner does not seek veterinary advice. Because of a pet cat's lifestyle, lameness or exercise intolerance is not a common owner complaint. Changes in behavior such as decreased grooming, a reluctance to jump up on favorite places, an inability to jump as high as before, and soiling outside the litter box should prompt the veterinarian to look for sources of chronic pain. Other changes that owners report are altered sleeping habits (an increase or decrease), withdrawing from human interaction, hiding, and a dislike of being stroked or brushed.”
-Sheilah A. Robertson, BVMS (Hons), PhD, DACVA, DECVA, CVA, MRCVS
From Osteoarthritis in cats: What we now know about recognition and treatment