Your cat is moving slower now and hesitates to jump up onto your lap as often. Her joints seem to hurt her when she jumps down from heights, too. The animal hospital says that she has arthritis and that she'll likely be less active because of the joint pain. Here is how to help your feline companion live with the arthritis and have an enjoyable life.

1. Make high places more accessible.

The arthritis won't stop your cat completely from getting to those favorite places up high. But you can make it easier for them to get there by making little ramps and steps to get up on things. Push some boxes together near the bed to make steps. Move furniture closer together so she won't have to jump as far from place to place. A carpeted ramp to get up onto the sofa will let your cat get to your lap easier.

2. Provide more quiet places for your cat.

Arthritis can make your cat moody and she may prefer to get away from the activity around the house more often. Create places under a bed, in a closet or behind a dresser where she can go to relax and not be disturbed. A blanket or towel and a couple of her toys are enough to let her know that she is welcomed in that spot.

If your cat continues to get more irritated with you and other pets in the house, ask your veterinary clinic for something to help your cat calm down.

3. Create separate food and water areas, if necessary.

If there are other cats in the household, and they get aggressive at feeding time, move the arthritic cat's food and water to another location where she can eat in peace. Painful joints may make her take longer to eat than the other cats. Give her a private eating area so she can eat and drink without being disturbed.

4. Change the litter if it hurts her feet.

Watch how your cat reacts to the litter box. If the box has a high lip to step over, this can cause her pain. The rough clay litter may also feel uncomfortable on her paw pads. Get a shallower litter box, or use an aluminum foil cookie sheet. Try litter made of paper, cardboard or wood shavings to make using the litter box more pleasant for your cat.

5. Try warmth on her sore joints.

When your cat is in your lap, place a heating pad over her joints. It will increase the circulation in the joints and reduce painful swelling. Consider putting a heating pad under one of her sleeping areas. It may become her favorite place to nap.

6. Help your cat with her daily grooming.

Because of her painful joints, your cat may not groom herself as well. Brush her fur everyday and look for mats just starting. Comb these out before they become tight against the skin and an irritation to your cat. If a mat does become tight against the skin, have your vet remove the mat so you don't accidentally hurt your cat getting the mat out of the fur. For more information, contact Apple Valley Animal Hospital.