BACKGROUND: Osteoarthritis (OA) is a clinically important and common disease of older cats. The pathological changes and molecular mechanisms which underpin the disease have yet to be described. In this study we evaluated selected histological and transcriptomic measures in the articular cartilage and subchondral bone (SCB) of the humeral condyle of cats with or without OA. RESULTS: The histomorphometric changes in humeral condyle were concentrated in the medial aspect of the condyle. Cats with OA had a reduction in articular chondrocyte density, an increase in the histopathological score of the articular cartilage and a decrease in the SCB porosity of the medial part of the humeral condyle. An increase in LUM gene expression was observed in OA cartilage from the medial part of the humeral condyle. CONCLUSIONS: Histopathological changes identified in OA of the feline humeral condyle appear to primarily affect the medial aspect of the joint. Histological changes suggest that SCB is involved in the OA process in cats. Differentiating which changes represent OA rather than the aging process, or the effects of obesity and or bodyweight requires further investigation.