Arthritis in Cats

Most cat owners recognize that as their cats are aging, they start to become less active and agile than when they were younger. Sometimes, this can be a normal part of the aging process, but for many cats, “slowing down” is a symptom of arthritis (also called degenerative joint disease). Cats are extraordinarily flexible, which makes some parts of their skeletal system more prone to excessive wear and tear. Their hips, knees, and lower back are common sites of arthritis. About 90% of cats over 10 years of age have arthritis! In addition to age-related degeneration, cats can have arthritis due to having been declawed, having a previous injury such as a cruciate ligament tear, or having developmental orthopedic disease such as hip dysplasia.

Cats are experts at hiding signs of pain and rarely limp when they are arthritic. More often, owners observe subtle changes in their cats as arthritis develops, including:

  • Decreased willingness to jump up or down from furniture
  • Jumping onto a lower object to access a higher one (i.e. jumping onto a chair and then onto a windowsill rather than jumping directly onto the windowsill).
  • Difficulty climbing up or down the stairs
  • Unwillingness to chase toys or other moving objects
  • Difficulty running

Do you think your cat might have arthritis, but you aren’t sure? This checklist can help you determine if your cat is showing signs of arthritis.

Options for managing arthritis pain in cats include supplements such as fish oils and glucosamine/chondroitin, weight loss if needed, medications such as gabapentin, acupuncture, and laser therapy. We are very excited to have a novel treatment option available for improving mobility in arthritic kitties. Solensia is an injectable monoclonal antibody that targets Nerve Growth Factor, the primary mediator of arthritis pain in cats. 77% of cat owners reported improvement in mobility after 3 months of using Solensia for their cats. Solensia is safe for cats with concurrent diseases (i.e. kidney disease, hyperthyroidism). We are very excited to have a new approach for helping our arthritic cats have a better quality of life! If you think your cat might benefit from Solensia, please reach out via phone (651-645-2808) or email ( to discuss with your cat’s care team.

Ticks Are Still Out!

We have seen so many ticks attached to dogs and cats in the past several weeks! Fall is one of the highest risk times of year for transmission of tick borne diseases such as Lyme. Remember that ticks are still active until temperatures are consistently below freezing, and some species of ticks are able to overwinter indoors. Fleas can be spread from animal to animal year-round. We recommend using a flea and tick preventative all year due to ongoing exposure risk.

Employee Spotlight

Our employee spotlight this month is Zack Zamora. Zack is one of our veterinary assistants and is currently in school to be a certified veterinary technician. Zack is also our Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. 

Zack was born and raised in the West Seventh neighborhood of Saint Paul. He has a calico cat named Mittens and a Jack Russell terrier named Beckman. He also has 4 bearded dragons (Tecate, Piña, Carmela, and Valentina).

What is your favorite aspect of veterinary medicine?

My favorite aspect of veterinary medicine is the importance and implementation of ethology in our everyday practice. I’m very passionate about animal behavior and love working with particularly challenging cases. I strive to make every patient feel as comfortable as possible in the stressful clinic setting.

What do you think is special about St. Francis? Why do you love working here?

Having worked in vet med for a few years, I found out quickly how hard it is to find a clinic that has great management, a caring staff, and practices amazing medicine. St. Francis has all three! Animals are always amazing, but not every clinic is as accepting and loving as ours. The staff at St. Francis welcomed me with open arms and I have felt like family ever since.

Upcoming Closures:

We will be closed on Thursday, November 24th for the Thanksgiving holiday.