To assess clinical signs and relevance of osteoarthritis (OA) in cats, the radiographic prevalence of OA in the appendicular skeleton of 100 client-owned cats (≥ 6 years old) was assessed. Possible associations between radiographic OA, clinical locomotor system examination, and owner-perceived behavioural changes were evaluated. OA was most prevalent in the shoulders, elbows, hips and tarsal joints with 61% of cats having OA in at least one joint and 48% in more than one joint. Overall, clinical examination of the larger peripheral joints had the highest sensitivity and specificity for radiographic OA. Regression analysis showed age to be related to OA (P = 0.002), as were decreased mobility and grooming (P = 0.008), although there was a correlation with age. Finally, increased inappropriate elimination was associated with OA (P = 0.046). It was concluded that the prevalence of OA in cats is strikingly high and increases with age. OA in cats seems to be associated with behavioural changes.
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