How To Massage A Cat With Arthritis (Explained)


If you observe your cat moving more slowly than usual or do not engage in activities it once enjoyed, they may likely suffer from osteoarthritis(OA).

Osteoarthritis is a painful condition in which almost 40% of cats exhibit clinical signs. 

This condition is much more common in adult cats, and even two-year-old cats can develop osteoarthritis. If your cat has osteoarthritis, things like using a trash can, jumping off the counter, or jumping up to look out the window can be very painful. 

Fortunately, there are ways to manage this pain and improve their quality of life. Aside, pain medications and supplements, you can opt for a massage treatment plan to help relieve your cat’s pain. 

How Do You Massage Your Arthritic Cat

So, the question is, how do you massage your cat if it’s afflicted with arthritis?

Applying a basic massage stroke, also called effleurage, on your cat is an excellent way to start. 

Ensure you work towards the heart to get the best out of effleurage. Furthermore, begin with your cat’s toes and work your way up to the knee and hip region.

Make sure you apply the massage in a slow, straight, and continuous flowing motion. 

Additionally, you can use massage movements which include:

  • Circles: Twist your fingertips clockwise or counterclockwise in circular motion, similar to the size of an egg.
  • Kneading: Open and close your palm while gently pressing along all five fingers along the spine of your cat.
  • Petrissage: A deeper massage movement that includes loose skin rolling, gently squeezing muscles, and kneading. Many cats love it when you apply Petrissage on their hamstrings! When this stroke is combined with effleurage, it helps to promote the release of toxins.
  • Flexing: After warming up the muscles with effleurage and petrissage movement, then go ahead to flex the fingers, wrists, elbows, ankles, and knees of your cat slightly, but never forcibly. You can also try lying the pet on its side with its legs bent back towards the shoulders and back.Then, shake e the limb gently with vibrating hands.
  • Tapotement: This procedure includes a percussion-like tapping motion and is good to use after flexing and Petrissage.
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Symptoms Of Arthritis In Cats Include:

  • Sleeping or hiding more than normal
  • Unwillingness to jump up or down.
  • Difficulty making use of their litter box
  • Irritability
  • Stiffness in the arm and legs, especially after sleeping.
  • Decreased levels of activity
  • Limping
  • Inability to go up or downstairs
  • Less time spent on their grooming
  • Jumping at a reduced height

Causes Of Cat Arthritis

Here are some of the common factors which could increase your cat’s risk of having arthritis:

  • Obesity. Even though there is no solid scientific evidence to support the claim that obesity causes arthritis, it can worsen the condition.
  • Wear and tear. As your cat gets older, its joints may get weakened.
  • Injury. If your cat suffers a joint fracture or joint injury, it can cause arthritis.
  • Abnormalities. The cartilage around joints may be affected by abnormal hip development.
  • Genetics. Some breeds of cats are at a higher risk of developing arthritis, mainly due to the abnormal development of their hips or cartilages. 

Other Treatment Options For Cat Arthritis

Aside from massaging your arthritic cat, there are other treatment options available for treating cats with arthritis. They’re as follows :

  • Cold laser therapy or photobiomodulation (PBMT). 

This painless or non-invasive treatment includes having a vet move a small device that gives off therapeutic light waves across your cat’s body onto their fur. This method has been proven to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

So, if you have any reason to believe that your cat has arthritis, a licensed veterinarian can help you identify whether this treatment plan is the best option for your cat.

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  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

A licensed veterinarian prescribes NSAIDs, the most common treatment for pet arthritis. Besides, a vet can help determine the duration and type of treatment.

  • Injectable joint protectants

Injectable joint protectants help ease arthritic pain. In addition, a veterinarian gives the cat about four doses of glycosaminoglycans every four weeks.

  • Pain management medication

Cats are given analgesic drugs in some cases, especially when non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are not available or suitable.

  • Acupuncture

Research on acupuncture for the treatment of cat arthritis is limited. However, some cats may benefit from it. Acupuncture is an ancient healing method in Chinese medicine that involves placing needles on specific parts of the body to reduce pain.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does cat have arthritis?

Several studies show arthritis is not only prevalent in cats, but it is also more severe in older ones and that the elbows, hips, knees (stifles), shoulders, and ankles are the regions most commonly affected.

What happens when you massage a cat?

Just as it’s in humans, massage therapy also stimulates the muscles, nerves, lymphatic systems, and circulatory systems in cats. It again increases movement, increases oxygen supply, and helps to expel toxic compounds that cause pain.

Does heat help cats with arthritis?

A heated blanket, or even a bottle of warm water, can ease the pain and stiffness of arthritis in older cats. Although it may require some coaxing, once your cat is used to the heated bed, things become easier.

How long can cats live with arthritis?

With proper long-term treatment, most cats will have a good quality of life for several years, and for many cats, well-controlled arthritis will not shorten a cat’s lifespan.

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Is exercise good for cats with arthritis?

Yes, low-impact exercise activities are suitable for cats. In addition, it helps to lower the incidences of muscle injuries, sprains, cramps and assist cats in moving easier. It also helps to increase their heart rate gradually.


Although there is no exact cure for arthritis, there are many ways to control the disease symptoms and keep your cat comfortable. You can do this by working closely with a qualified veterinarian.

In addition, learning and applying cat massage techniques for arthritis will reduce your cat’s pain and allow you to develop an intimate interaction with the pet, which expands and strengthens your bond with your cat.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this website results from in-depth research on various topics. The articles on this site are only for informational and educational purposes, and it’s not intended as medical or health advice. Hence, we suggest you always ensure to seek the opinion of your doctor or other qualified health personnel regarding any questions that relate to health objectives or medical conditions.

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