Practical relevance: An understanding of the process of musculoskeletal ageing - which all senior and geriatric cats will experience - is vital to maintaining the health and welfare of our ageing cat population.
Clinical challenges: Assessment of the feline musculoskeletal system is not always straightforward. Diagnosis of impairment relies on input from owners and veterinarians in terms of visual observation, and clinical and orthopaedic examination, in addition to diagnostic imaging.
Audience: This review is written for the primary care veterinary team.
Aims: The goals are to raise awareness and improve clinical diagnosis of musculoskeletal impairment as a result of ageing. The article also reviews therapeutic options and considers the evidence available for the prevention/deceleration of musculoskeletal ageing and impairment.
Evidence base: There is good evidence of a high prevalence of osteoarthritis (OA) and degenerative joint disease (DJD) in older cats. There is also good evidence to indicate that functional impairment and chronic pain are sequelae of musculoskeletal disease. However, there is a paucity of information for what is best practice for the management and treatment of musculoskeletal impairment in a clinical situation. There is also a lack of evidence on how prevention of central stimulation of the nervous system caused by musculoskeletal impairment and, in turn the development of chronic pain, can be avoided.