Spondylosis in cats is a degenerative disorder that affects the spine. It is characterized by the development of bony spurs along the vertebral column and may cause the loss of normal spine function. Cats with the disorder can still live satisfactory lives, though they may be restricted in their flexibility and range of motion.
Spondylosis can be present in cats without the animals showing any outward clinical signs. However, the most common signs of spondylosis are stiffness, difficulty moving or jumping, lameness and the dragging of limbs while walking. The loss of urinary or bowel control is also an indication of spondylosis.
The exact cause of spondylosis in cats is uncertain, although aging seems to be an important factor. While the disorder occurs at all ages, it grows in severity as the animal ages. Instability in the spaces between discs in the spinal column causes spinal growths known as osteophytes, or spurs, to occur. According to Provet Pet Health Information, all cats that live long enough will eventually develop some form of spondylosis.
Over time, the developing bone spurs caused by spondylosis may actually form bridges across disc spaces. Trauma can cause these bridges to crack and inflict spinal nerve damage, which can lead to neurological problems. Even without cracking, these bone bridges cause the spine to become rigid, which can be very painful and debilitating for the animal.
The treatment given for spondylosis in cats is intended to alleviate pain. Surgical procedures used to remove bone spurs caused by spondylosis have proven unsuccessful, as the spurs often grow back. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDS, are recommended for pain relief and have fewer side effects than other painkillers. Modern holistic treatments for spondylosis in cats include acupuncture and chiropractic procedures.
According to Provet Pet Health Information, a high intake of Vitamin A--a vitamin found abundantly in liver--can be linked to some cases of spondylosis in cats. Other factors that are thought to contribute to the onset of the disease include genetic predisposition, dietary problems and over- or under-exercising.