An increasing number of cats are living to become elderly and they commonly develop health problems. Aging is the most prominent risk factor for the initiation and progression of osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a cartilage degenerative disorder characterized by a low-grade inflammatory process that leads to progressive changes in the structure and function of the joints.
The major pathological changes seen in osteoarthritis are:
A gradual loss of articular cartilage with the following biochemical changes – loss of proteoglycans, disruption of the collagen network and increase in water content.
Remodeling of the subchondral bone.
Osteophyte formation at the joint margin.
Chronic synovial membrane inflammation.
These changes reduce the elasticity of the cartilage leading to fissuring of the cartilage and other damages.
The development of osteoarthritis is largely mediated through pro-inflammatory cytokines and their subsequent contribution to cartilage degradation. The outcome is devastating for the older cat with significant pain and reduced quality of life.