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Published: Jun 20, 2012

If you have an older cat, you may notice it seems lame or is having more trouble moving around than it used to. You might assume your feline has arthritis, but it is important to understand the difference between arthritis, degenerative joint disease and other conditions that can cause joint pain and stiffness.

Arthritis refers to any inflammation of the joints, but degenerative joint disease in cats (DJD), also known as osteoarthritis, refers to the gradual deterioration of the cartilage that cushions a cat's joints, according to DJD is characterized by progressive and permanent degeneration of the cartilage around the joints.

Although DJD is generally irreversible, treatment usually involves helping make the cat as comfortable as possible. You can decrease pain in cats in a number of ways, according to VCA Animal Hospitals. Modifying the cat's environment so it has to put less pressure on its joints in daily life is a good place to start.

Consider placing a step near its favorite sleeping spot so it doesn't have to jump, or get a new litter box with a lower side. You can also help your cat with certain medications or special diets recommended or prescribed by your veterinarian, VCA reports.