How to Tell If a Cat Is in Pain: 25 Signs You Can Look For
Dr. Hanie Elfenbein, DVM, PhD, reviewed and updated this page on October 21, 2019 to ensure correctness. Except in the most extreme situations, recognizing whether a cat is in pain can be difficult. Cats are extremely effective at disguising pain as a result of thousands of years of natural selection. Because, after all, it’s not a good idea to publicize the fact that you’re not feeling well when a predator or possible partner may be around.
How Do I Know If My Cat Is in Pain?
Pain for cats comprises more than simply the sense of “I’m hurting,” but also the general misery that it might bring about as well. “Pain is a complex multi-dimensional experience encompassing sensory and affective (emotional) components,” according to the World Small Animal Association’s Global Pain Council: As the saying goes, ‘Pain is not just about how it feels, but also about how it makes you feel,’ and it is these negative sentiments that are responsible for the suffering we associate with pain.
Likewise, as a veterinarian, I desire the same outcome.
But you can’t just tell Frisky, “Okay Frisky, just place your paw on the part of your face that best represents how you feel today,” and expect him to comply.
This has been made possible, in part, by the release of an article entitled ” Behavioural Signs of Pain in Cats: An Expert Consensus,” which provides some insight into how cats experience pain.
Veterinarian Panel Consensus: 25 Signs of Pain in Cats
Looking for these changes in your cat’s behavior, according to a panel of 19 international veterinary experts in feline health, is the most effective approach to assess cat suffering without aggravating or intensifying the pain. Keep in mind that any one of the 25 indications of feline pain mentioned below is sufficient to establish a diagnosis of pain in a cat. It is not necessary for your cat to be expressing all of these indicators of pain in order for there to be a possible problem.
- A limping stride, difficulty leaping, abnormal gait, reluctance to move, reaction to palpation (touching), withdrawnness, or hiding are all symptoms of lameness. Lack of self-grooming
- Less time spent playing
- A reduction in appetite
- A reduction in overall activity People are rubbing themselves in the wrong direction less. Hunched-up posture
- Shifting weight whether standing, lying down or walking
- Licking a specific body region
- Lower head position
- General changes in mood and temperament
- The alteration of one’s eating habits
- Keeping away from bright locations
- Eyes closed
- Stooping to urinate
- Tail flicking
Always Discuss Your Cat’s Behavioral Changes With Your Vet
While this list of indicators of pain in cats is useful, it only goes so far in identifying the cause of the discomfort. Your veterinarian will be able to assist you in determining if the changes in your cat are caused by discomfort or otherwise. For example, a cat with an irregular gait may undoubtedly be in pain, but it may also be suffering from other non-painful diseases (such as neurologic problems). Alternately, an otherwise healthy cat may have a hormonal alteration, such as an overactive thyroid, that causes her general mood to shift unexpectedly.
I am a veterinarian and, in situations when I have been unable to determine another explanation for a cat’s change in behavior, I am left with the assumption that the cat is suffering from discomfort.
When my patient’s behavior returns to normal after a few days on buprenorphine—my favoritekitty pain reliever—and orgabapentin, we’ll know that pain is the source of the problem.
They have the ability to kill cats. Instead, contact your veterinarian and describe the indicators of discomfort you have observed so that they may assist you in determining the most appropriate course of action.
Guidelines for the recognition, assessment, and management of pain include the following: Members of the WSAVA Global Pain Council and co-authors of this document include: Mathews K, Kronen PW, Lascelles D, Nolan A, Robertson S, Steagall PV, Wright B, Yamashita K. Journal of Small Animal Practice. 2014 Jun;55(6):E10-68. J Small Anim Pract. 2014 Jun;55(6):E10-68. There is a consensus among experts on the signs of pain shown by cats in their behavior. PLoS One. 2016 Feb 24;11(2):e0150040. Merola I, Mills DS.
2016 Feb 24;11(2):e0150040 Featured Image courtesy of iStock.com/
How Do I Know if My Cat is in Pain?
The ability to recognize and relieve pain in cats has advanced significantly over time. Considering that cats are living for an increasing number of years, they are facing the degradation and debilitation that comes with advancing age. This includes the development of osteoarthritis, which is a painful inflammation of the joints that affects the knees and hips. A cat’s natural nature is to conceal or cover its discomfort, which makes diagnosing pain challenging. No one is more equipped to recognize the small changes in behavior that may indicate distress than members of one’s own family.
- These indicators will alert you to the need to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.
- You may notice that your cat is meowing more frequently than usual.
- When approached by human family members or by other animal members of the family, she may also growl or hiss.
- Because your cat is unable to locate a comfortable location to lie down, you may observe him pacing or acting restlessly.
- During formerly pleasurable activities like as chasing toys or playing hide-and-seek, you may notice that she has less energy or less stamina than she used to have.
- She may grow apprehensive about going up and down stairs.
- You should consult your veterinarian.
- Changes in one’s everyday routine.
- They acquire a tangle of hair on their backs and may get matted over the painful areas of their bodies.
“Cats who are painful may retreat from their regular family relationships, may become less involved in their environment, and may begin hiding.” Petrified cats may retreat from their regular family relationships, become less involved in their surroundings, and even begin to hide from their owners.
- You may also notice a shift in your sleeping patterns over time.
- Their sleeping positions may be out of the ordinary, and their sleeping locations may be strange.
- When they squat, they may pee over the edge of the litterbox because they are having difficulties squatting.
- It is possible for cats that are in discomfort to acquire a facial expression that may be classified as a grimace.
- Some hurting cats genuinely have a wide-eyed expression on their faces.
- Aggression that is out of character.
- It is possible that she will snarl or hiss when people or other dogs in the home approach her.
- It is possible for her to appear to be in a very protective posture while she is merely lying around the home, observing everything that happens around her attentively in order to avoid potentially painful confrontations.
- Postures that are out of the ordinary.
- As you lay down next to her, you may observe that she keeps her legs curled up below her rather than sprawling out on her side.
- She may be able to prevent the typical stretching that cats are known to do.
It is now well accepted that the sooner pain is detected and controlled, the better your cat’s quality of life, as well as your cat’s (and your family’s) ability to participate in daily activities, will be preserved.
How do I tell if my cat is in pain?
- Cat advise
- How do I know if my cat is in pain
- How do I tell if my cat is in pain
Being able to recognize early indicators of discomfort in your cat is critical in maintaining your cat’s overall happiness and health as well as diagnosing and treating any potential ailments. While most cats that are experiencing extreme, short-term pain will be more likely to show signs of distress, cats who are suffering from symptoms of chronic pain or sickness may be able to conceal their discomfort for extended periods of time. This type of discomfort can also have a long-term mental impact on cats, giving them grief and making them less resilient to stress in the future.
You may tell that the cat is in pain pretty fast in this situation.
Everyone’s cat will express discomfort in a different way, so it’s crucial to be on the lookout for even the smallest change in their behavior or body language.
Behaviour signs of a cat in pain
- Reduced appetite
- Decreased interest in enjoyable activities such as playing, socializing, and enjoying the outdoors
- Being reclusive and reclusive
- Concealing away
- It is possible that they could seem lame and will experience greater sensitivity to touch in particular places of their body. Restriction on physical mobility and activity
- Changes in a person’s behavior habits. For example, your cat may begin to avoid performing activities that they are aware will cause them pain or that they believe would bring them pain. They are no longer let to jump up onto beds or other elevated surfaces since they are under the impression that doing so may damage them
- A depressed state of mind and disposition
- Heightened irritability Vocalizations as cats meowing, moaning, hissing, and growling that are frequent and unpleasant or urgent in nature
- While suffering from discomfort, your cat may attempt to avoid being handled by either moving away from people or behaving violently when approached or touched
- However, this is not always the case. In general, a lack of grooming, or excessive grooming, but just in a specific location (which might result in bald patches and/or irritated skin)
Body language signs of a cat in pain
When a cat is in pain, it may exhibit changes in posture, body language, and behavior that are either gradual or rapid. This might manifest itself as increased tension in their body, stooping and hunching, or lowering of the shoulders.
Facial expression signs of a cat in pain
When a cat is in pain, some cats will display a noticeable alteration in their facial expression, whilst others will display a more subtle shift, such as:
- It is possible for your cat to squint or shut their eyes. In other cases, their ears may seem somewhat flattened or squeezed toward the sides. There may be a tightening and compression around their lips, nose, and cheeks.
Some cats may be less evident in displaying signs of discomfort than others, and they may express some signs but not all of the signs listed above. If you have any worries that your cat may be in discomfort, take them to your veterinarian as soon as possible for an examination and treatment.
7 Ways to Tell If Your Cat is in Pain – Some May Surprise You!
Pain in your cat should be recognized as soon as it appears, since this is critical to preserving their long-term health and enjoyment. Unfortunately, cats are skilled at masking their agony, which makes them difficult to catch. While cats often exhibit external symptoms of pain when they are suffering acute, extreme pain, it is far more difficult to discern whether they are experiencing long-term pain or discomfort. As veterinarians, we have grown good at identifying some of the more subtle signals of discomfort in cats, but we also make it a point to remind cat owners that they are the ones who are most familiar with their pets.
The good news is that you, too, can learn to detect indications of discomfort in cats by following these simple instructions.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the most frequent signs of pain in cats and included them here; however, any significant changes in your cat’s behaviors and routines should be followed up with a visit to your veterinarian.
1. Changes in Behavior
Despite the fact that it is sometimes missed, a change in yourcat’s behavior is frequently an early sign of pain or sickness. If your normally cuddly buddy suddenly begins to spend all of their time hiding under the bed, it’s a strong indication that something is wrong with them. It is common for cats to build close attachments with their owners, and many of them love being there and involved in their daily activities. A cat who no longer sleeps in your bed with you at night, follows you to the kitchen, or comes out to see you when you return home from work may be experiencing physical discomfort.
When you or other members of your family get close to them, they may hiss or growl in response.
Unexplained aggressiveness is a dangerous behavioral change that should be addressed by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
2. Grooming Changes
A change in your cat’s behavior, though it is often noticed, is typically an early sign of pain or sickness. If your normally cuddly friend suddenly begins to spend all of their time hiding under the bed, it’s a strong indication that something is wrong with them. Cats create close attachments with their owners, and many of them take pleasure in being there and active in their daily routines and activities. You may be experiencing discomfort if your cat no longer sleeps with you at night, follows you into the kitchen, or comes out to welcome you when you return home from work.
You or other members of your home may hear hissing or growling when you approach them.
The presence of unexplained hostility is a dangerous behavioral alteration that should be addressed by a veterinarian.
3. Decreased Energy and Activity
During the course of their lives, your pet’s energy level will progressively diminish as they go through the senior cat stages. If these changes occur rapidly or have a significant impact on your cat’s quality of life, it is possible that something other than senior age is slowing your feline companion down. The fact that your cat is reluctant to run or leap or to navigate stairs or to join in playing or to rise up from a laying posture indicates that they are in discomfort. The same as in the case of humans, cats can develop degenerative illnesses such as arthritis as they get older.
4. Changes in Sleep Habits
Additionally, pain might induce changes in your cat’s sleep patterns. They may have difficulty finding a comfortable posture in which to relax, or you may discover them sleeping in unusual areas. Cats that are suffering from pain may also sleep more or less than normal. Painful cats may also seek out warmer locations to relax, such as a sunny spot or a heating pad, to relieve their discomfort.
Cats will almost never sleep on the floor; instead, they favor elevated resting locations such as furniture. Additionally, if you observe that your cat is lying in lower spots, this might be a warning indication.
5. Eliminating Outside of the Litter Box
Unlike humans, cats do not quit using their litter boxes for no discernible reason. While there are a variety of reasons for a cat to begin eliminating outside of the litter box, one of the most prevalent is discomfort. If your cat has difficulty in their knees, hips, elbows, or spine, entering and exiting the litter box might be a terrible experience for him or her. Similarly, this sort of discomfort can make it virtually hard to get into and hold a squatting position. These cats are prone to constipation since having a bowel movement is an unpleasant experience for them.
It is also necessary to keep an eye out for changes in stool consistency.
As an example, if your cat is feeling difficulty when urinating, he or she may link the discomfort with the litter box and quit using it altogether.
6. Decreased Appetite and Thirst
Anxiety and pain may be quite effective in suppressing appetite and thirst — in both people and animals! In the event that your cat appears to have lost interest in eating or drinking, this might be a symptom that they are suffering from discomfort. Changes in eating and drinking habits might be signs of a variety of other significant medical conditions, therefore it is always better to consult with your veterinarian as soon as possible.
7. Changes in Posture and Facial Expressions
Despite the fact that every cat is unique, there are some characteristics you may look for in your cat’s posture and facial expressions.
A cat in pain may express themselves in the following ways:
- Although every cat is unique, there are some characteristics you may look out for in your cat’s posture and facial expressions to help you identify his or her personality.
However, as a caring pet parent, you can learn to recognize even the smallest signals of pain and suffering in your cat. It is important to pay great attention to your cat’s behavior, habits, and physical health in order to recognize when something is wrong. Your feline family member is unable to communicate that they are in discomfort or that they are feeling poorly. Instead, it is your responsibility to detect the symptoms indicated above – or anything else that appears strange – and to seek immediate assessment from their veterinarian.
In the event that you have any cause to believe that your cat may be in pain or discomfort, please contact us to book an appointment.
Discover if Your Cat is Hiding Its Pain or Discomfort
There are several indicators that your cat is ill that are difficult to notice since they are not all similar to the common cold that most people have every now and then. Cats have a tendency to conceal their discomfort, making it harder to provide them with the necessary treatment when they are most in need. However, if you know what to look for, you may identify cat pain signals early on and get your cat the medical attention she requires.
Why Cats Hide Their Pain
When cats are in pain, they have a natural tendency to hide it. This is thought to be an evolutionary holdover from their days in the wild, when illness or injury made them look like a target for nearby predators. For a wild cat to seem vulnerable increases her chances of being bullied or abandoned by the rest of her pack, and thus increases her chances of being captured and killed. In spite of the fact that domestic cats are no longer in danger of becoming prey, they may perceive other pets in the house, or even other people, as competitors for resources like as food and water.
Cats are motivated to mask their symptoms by a deeply ingrained instinct or by overprotective kitty logic. Cats are concerned that showing signs of pain will cause them to lose out to a more deserving animal, which leads them to mask their symptoms.
Common Cat Pain Symptoms
When a cat is in pain, he or she will frequently exhibit behavioral changes that might serve as a warning sign to a pet parent who is paying attention. According to Vetstreet, some of the most typical indicators that your cat is unwell or in discomfort are as follows:
- Behavioral changes in a cat suffering discomfort are common, and they might help to alert an attentive pet parent that something is wrong with their cat. According to Vetstreet, some of the most typical indicators that your cat is unwell or in discomfort are as follows.
Kittens suffering from discomfort may also exhibit signs such as loss of appetite, odd vomiting, clinging behavior, or other notable changes in personality and temperament, among other symptoms. Because it’s extremely difficult to climb into the litter box for a cat suffering from chronic discomfort, such as arthritis, the cat may stop using the litter box completely. As a result, she may be asked to refrain from climbing or jumping onto the upper perches of her cat tree as well.
How your Vet Can Help
Whenever your cat displays unusual behavior, you should take her to the veterinarian, who can help evaluate whether the changes are caused by pain or sickness and then collaborate with you to address the underlying reason. Additionally, the veterinarian can assist with pain management. This might involve the use of prescription pain medication as well as heat treatment, physical rehabilitation, or even massage. If your cat is overweight, your veterinarian may also recommend that she consume a weight-management meal, especially if she is suffering from chronic joint discomfort.
Over-the-counter pain relievers should never be given to your cat since they may be quite hazardous to their digestive systems, which is something you should avoid doing at all costs.
In addition, your veterinarian may prescribe mood-stabilizing medications to help your sick cat manage with both the discomfort and the changes in her environment that come with her illness.
How You Can Help
Consider changing her bed, food dishes, water bowls, and litter box to a more convenient location in the house so she can access to them more easily. It’s also important to make sure that the litter box is easy to get into and out of. If you have a model with a lid or deep sides, for example, you may need to replace it with one that is open and shallower, and you may need to scoop it clean more regularly in order to compensate for her weakness. Do you have a large family? Prevent other pets or children from attempting to play or roughhouse with her by placing barriers around them.
Of course, the greatest medicine is one that is preventative in nature.
As a pet parent, you undoubtedly want your kitten to remain in good health for the rest of her days. Learning to detect when your beloved pet is in discomfort will go a long way toward enhancing the overall quality of her life.
Jean Marie Bauhaus was an American architect who founded the Bauhaus movement. The fiction novelist, freelance writer, and editor Jean Marie Bauhaus resides in Tulsa, Oklahoma with her family. She is a pet mom and enthusiast who writes about pets and pet health on a regular basis from her home office, where she is aided by a slew of furbabies on a daily basis.
How Can I Tell If My Cat Is In Pain?
It is possible that this website contains affiliate links. When you make a qualified purchase, we receive a commission at no additional cost to you. Our objective is to help preserve the lives of dogs and cats by providing them with educational information. Please consider purchasing one of our web-books for yourself or as a present in order to assist us in creating additional veterinarian- and trainer-approved information. As a general rule, most cats are quite good at concealing their discomfort.
Knowing what to look for is essential if you want to save your cat from suffering in silence for any longer.
Cats are masters at disguising pain. It’s a survival instinct.
As a cat owner, you are probably more familiar with your cat than most people – including your veterinarian! Cat owners are frequently the first to notice when something is wrong with their beloved feline companion, and this may include even the most subtle of signals in their feline companion. In order to determine when anything is wrong with your cat, it helps to have a solid understanding of what is “normal” for them. This includes their typical attitude and activity level, gait, hunger, thirst, sleep habits, and other physical and behavioral characteristics.
Even if your cat is not prone to biting or scratching, the simple fact that you are inspecting them for discomfort gives them the impression that something is wrong!
- Cats in discomfort are more inclined to bite and scratch, so keep an eye out for these behaviors. And they are not selective in their prey — so even those who are acquainted to you may find themselves the target of their fangs, claws, or both! In particular, when another person touches or moves the painful location, or when the cat anticipates you touching or moving the painful area, this is true. Changes in Breathing: When a cat is in discomfort, it may breathe quicker or shallower than usual. They may also make a remark. You may even sense a difference in the action of your stomach and chest muscles, which are both involved in breathing
- However, this is unlikely.
You may monitor your cat’s respiratory rate in the comfort of your own home: For every 15 seconds when your cat is sleeping (at rest), count their breaths and multiply the total number of breaths by four to get the number of breaths per minute. It is possible to use the timer on your phone and lay your palm on their chest so that you can feel their breaths while you count. Alternatively, see their chest rise and fall, which equals one breath. Cats breathe at a pace ranging from 12 and 60 breaths per minute on average.
This video provides instructions on how to check the respiration rate of your cat at home, as well as other vital signs:
- Both heart rate and pulse changes are equivalent phrases that refer to the same phenomenon in most cases. While pumping blood from their heart to their arteries, the pace of your cat’s heart is the same as the speed of their pulse. Pain and discomfort frequently result in an increase in the heart or pulse rate of your cat. Additionally, when the painful location is touched or moved, the heart rate frequently dramatically accelerates. When a cat is at rest (asleep), its typical heart rate is between 160 and 200 beats per minute. Similar to the method for measuring your cats’ respiratory rate, you may measure your cat’s heart or pulse rate at home by laying your palm over their chest just above their elbow and trying to count the number of beats in 15 seconds, then multiplying the result by four (see image below). Due to the fact that a cat’s heart rate is normally fairly rapid, this can be rather difficult to do. In this case, relying on other factors such as their respiration rate, mood, changes in body posture and so on may be more beneficial. A pet first aid course can also be taken, and your veterinarian or one of the clinic’s nurses can teach you how to check your cat’s vital signs. Normally, the gum color of a cat is pale pink, however this might vary somewhat from cat to cat. If your cat would accept you gently raising their lip (be careful not to be bitten! ), try it. You may gently examine the color of the gum. White, grey, blue, or purple gums should be avoided since they may suggest a lack of oxygen to the tissues in your mouth. A strong red color should also be avoided, since this might signal high blood pressure, discomfort, or inflammation. Purring: Although our cats’ purring is often associated with happiness, they may also purr to convey when they are stressed, nervous, or attempting to communicate other needs, such as when they are in pain or uncomfortable, among other things. In other words, if your cat is purring while displaying any of the other indicators listed below, the purring may be caused by discomfort. Purring may actually increase when a cat is in discomfort
- In fact, it may even become more frequent. Changes in the eyes: When a cat is in agony, his or her eyes may reveal a lot. This is true for both the pain in their eyes and the discomfort in other parts of their bodies. The presence of pain elsewhere in the body is frequently associated with larger (dilated) pupils, whereas pain in the eye can result in either larger (dilated) or smaller (constricted) pupils, depending on the underlying injury or disease process that has affected the eye, and whether one or both eyes are affected. Squinting may be a sign of discomfort, either in the squinting eye or elsewhere in the body, according to some experts. Pain in the afflicted eye might be indicated by a “bloodshot” look, which is also common. Food or Drink Changes: Depending on where your cat is suffering discomfort, you may notice that he or she is eating or drinking less. It’s possible that they’re in discomfort and don’t want to get up to walk to their food bowls because it’s unpleasant. One solution to this problem is to bring their bowls closer to them. If they continue to refuse to eat or drink, the problem may be due to something else, such as an underlying problem with their digestive system. During meals, whether the source of their discomfort is their teeth or another area of their mouth, they may spit food out of their mouth or dribble while they are eating. Another reason for food avoidance may be due to discomfort in the mouth or teeth. Changes in Grooming: When a cat is in discomfort or suffering from a widespread sickness, you may observe a general decrease in the quantity of self-grooming. This is generally due to a lack of energy or the fact that doing these normal duties may be harmful to them. A cat with a wound, on the other hand, may groom the wound excessively, which will only result in greater stress and injury
- And Changes in Energy Levels: The majority of cats that are in pain will be less active. This frequently results in a cat who sleeps more, but it may also result in a cat who sprints or leaps less frequently. When in discomfort, many cats may seek refuge under beds or couches, or even in closets, rather to face the world. Maintain a close eye out for your cat’s hiding spots since they are typically a highly revealing hint, especially if this is an unusual habit for your feline
- Changes in Mobility: Pain can frequently result in a reduction in mobility. It is possible that your cat may continue to move about the same amount, but it may appear a bit different, depending on what is hurting him. In certain cases, you may notice that they walk with a limp, that they move more slowly up and down the stairs, or that they are less willing (or able) to jump as high as they used to. In the event that you’ve seen any of these changes in your cat’s mobility, or if you suspect that your cat may be suffering from arthritis (which is a very real possibility! ), you may want to try adding some joint mobility and fish oil supplements to their diet. Using these products does not require a prescription, and they can help reduce inflammation in the joints while also improving your cat’s discomfort and overall quality of life. At the same time, it is always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian before making any decisions, since your cat may benefit from prescription pain meds in addition to nutrients at this stage. Modifications in Bathing Habits: Pain may cause cats to struggle to go to the bathroom because of the way they arrange themselves in their litter box to defecate and pee. As a result, you may find that there is less filthy litter to clean up. This might be a red flag that something isn’t quite right with the world. Aside from that, cats may occasionally become constipated as a result of the difficulty they have going to the toilet. It’s possible that cats suffering from joint or bone discomfort will have difficulties getting into their litter boxes, leading them to begin urinating and/or defecating outside of their boxes. Changes in the shape of the body: It’s possible that swelling on your cat’s legs, body, or face is an indicator of a painful disease such as a cat bite, a tooth root abscess (infection), inflammation (cancer), an insect bite (infection), an allergic response, or anything else. If your cat has recently had surgery or a dental operation, your veterinarian will have left you with discharge instructions as well as any medications that your cat may require. It is always critical that you follow these recommendations to the letter in order to guarantee your cat’s greatest possible recovery! Depending on the surgery, they may be quieter, less prone to want to hug or be patted, and they may refuse food or drink for a few hours after returning home from the hospital, preferring instead to rest.
Dr. Duncan Lascelles, one of the world’s foremost experts on cat pain, and his team at the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine have developed a useful questionnaire to assist you and your veterinarian in determining whether or not your cat is “suffering in silence” from arthritis pain as a result of their research. Your veterinarian will use this questionnaire to assess whether or not your cat has arthritis.
You may download and print the questionnaire, fill it out, and bring it with you to your veterinarian’s office. A brief video Dr. Lascelles has created that walks you through some of the most critical parts of cat discomfort is provided below.
Conditions That Are Often Painful for Cats
- Cats are notorious at hiding their discomfort, so search for subtle symptoms of distress. Cats under distress are more inclined to bite, so exercise caution
- When your cat is in pain, everything from his behavior to his respiration to his heart rate and even his look might alter. Whenever you believe that your cat is in discomfort, call your veterinarian right away. Never provide medicine to your cat unless specifically directed to do so by your veterinarian.
While it’s apparent and intuitive that a fractured bone, open wound, or surgical operation will be uncomfortable for your cat, those aren’t the only causes for your cat to be in pain. Here’s what you should know. There are several additional frequent illnesses that cause discomfort in cats that go unnoticed by their owners and, consequently, mistreated by their vets because we can’t ask our patients how they are feeling today! Make an appointment with your veterinarian if your cat has been diagnosed with any of the illnesses listed below to ensure that any unpleasant aspects of the condition are properly handled.
If there is discomfort, find out what treatment options are available to alleviate it.
- In particular, bone cancer, squamous cell carcinomas of the mouth, any sort of cancer that enlarges a capsular organ (such as the kidney or the spleen), and tumors that push on vital internal structures are among the most common cancers. Stones in the kidneys or bladder
- Bladder inflammation (sometimes known as “cystitis”)
- Blockage of the urethra Infection of the middle or inner ear: These can be quite painful for cats, especially if the illness has been present for a long period of time and/or if the infection has affected the middle or inner ear
- A condition characterized by inflammation of the pancreas (“pancreatitis”), the stomach (“gastritis”), and intestines (“enteritis”)
- And Obstruction of the digestive tract, including foreign bodies in the gastrointestinal tract
- Arthritis is an inflammation of a joint that occurs over time. Hips, elbows, or any other joint might be involved in this situation (s). (*Please keep in mind that cats acquire arthritis considerably more frequently than people think, resulting in many cats suffering from the discomfort of undiscovered and untreated arthritis. Periodontal disease or tooth fracture
- Resorptive tooth lesions (also known as FORLs or “neck lesions”)
- Periodontal disease or tooth fracture
- Glaucoma, uveitis, and corneal ulcers are all examples of eye issues. Feline Aortic Thromboembolism (FATE) is a kind of thromboembolism that affects the aorta of the cat.
In the event that you suspect your cat is in pain or is displaying any of the signs of discomfort described above, you should consult or contact your veterinarian immediately. Not only is it necessary in order to establish the underlying cause of the pain and administer proper treatment and management, but it is also necessary in order to avert disaster. By self-prescribing drugs without first consulting their veterinarian, many pet owners – including pharmacists and “human” physicians and nurses – have accidentally caused poisoning or severe injury to their cats.
Cats can’t talk, but these signs can let you know if they’re in pain
As a kitten, my cat Blixa would alert me when he wasn’t feeling well, and he still does. In the middle of the night, with a gut-wrenching yowl, he’d run through the house like a small black and white vomit comet. He also appeared to recover quickly from treatments such as tooth extraction, which might easily have left a human laying on the sofa for many days after the procedure. Because of his advanced age and decreased ability to express himself, it became increasingly difficult to determine when he was in agony.
It is in the felines’ best interests to conceal pain, according to Carolyn O’Brien, a feline specialist at Melbourne Cat Vets.
Fernando Martinez Toboada, a veterinarian at the University of Sydney who specializes in anaesthesia and pain management, says it isn’t because cats are more “stoic” than other animals such as dogs that the difference exists.
“Pain is unique to each person.
So what signs do vets look for?
Loading In the event that you’ve ever attempted to herd your cat into a carrier, you’ve probably already discovered that your feline companion does not enjoy traveling to the veterinarian. Dr. O’Brien explained that one of the reasons owners have traditionally been hesitant to bring their cats into a veterinarian’s office for medical attention is because they know the cat would be nervous. When people are forced to leave their comfort zone, they go into full flight or fight mode. Blixa used to be able to scale walls and gallop around the ceiling of the operation when he was younger.
- “Being frozen to the spot might sometimes be their method of dealing with things,” she explained.
- (Image courtesy of Wikimedia user Canadianknowledgelover) This implies that veterinarians can’t rely on physiological indications like as respiration or heart rates or blood pressure to determine the severity of discomfort in their finicky patients.
- It is extremely, extremely difficult “Dr.
- It is also possible that underlying medical illnesses or medications have an impact on physiological signals.
- In addition, veterinarians search for signals like as guarding or certain postures.
Dr. Toboada explains that “one typical symptom we frequently tend to observe in animals if they tend to have a sore tummy is their back arches.” “If you notice animals lying down and not wanting to move, it’s likely that movement is causing them discomfort,” says the veterinarian.
Subtle signs of acute pain in the face
The Feline Grimace Scale, developed by Canadian researchers to assist veterinarians in determining the intensity of discomfort experienced by cats, is now available (FGS) This scale is used to assess the tiny signals of severe discomfort that the cat displays on its face. They found that cats with non-emergency acute pain were more likely to have dropped ears, squinty eyes, and drooping whiskers than other cats. The cats ranged from bog standard mogs to Maine Coons that were hospitalized with non-emergency acute pain.
- (Image courtesy of the University of Calgary) Grimace scales, which were originally designed for the purpose of detecting pain in neonates and non-verbal humans, have been validated in a variety of species, ranging from rabbits to rats.
- “While the FGS has been created and validated for use by veterinarians, owners may utilize changes in their cats’ behavior that are associated with pain to recognize that anything is wrong and take their pets to the veterinarian,” Dr Steagall says.
- When a cat is in discomfort, it will squint its eyes.
- O’Brien stated that the new scale was considerably more user-friendly than prior scales, and that she uses it in her clinic to demonstrate this.
While she acknowledged that “we can’t always say that a cat’s ears are down or its whiskers are back that it’s definitely in pain,” she added that “if we can see a cat that’s happy and confident and is looking towards the front of the cage.we can interpret that that cat is likely to be comfortable.” The whiskers of a cat in distress will be upturned.
In addition to the fact that the scale is “very well developed,” Dr.
“Since not all sedatives have analgesic qualities, it is possible that we are disguising the outcome.” Once your cat returns home from surgery, it’s a good idea to confine it to the house for a few of days.
What about chronic pain?
According to Dr. Tobaoda, around 90 percent of animals suffering from discomfort at home will be suffering from chronic pain rather than acute pain. When it comes to acute pain, veterinarians rely primarily on pet parents to recognize when their cat is suffering from chronic pain, which can be caused by illnesses such as osteoarthritis or renal disease.
Blixa is 19 years old. (Photo courtesy of ABC’s Genelle Weule) The following are warning signs to look out for:
- Food does not pique my curiosity
- There is less movement and bouncing up and down onto things. Changes in the way they utilize litter boxes or scratching poles, for instance.
With contrast to acute pain, Dr. Toboada believes that everything is much more delicate in this sort of pain. “I am very interested in assisting animals that are experiencing this type of pain,” she added. With additional effort, the grimace scale might become a “game-changer” in the near future. In addition, “we know that the grimace scale for rats, which has been validated for acute pain, may also be utilized well for chronic pain,” explains Dr. Toboada. Because of the consequences of osteoarthritis and a variety of other elderly cat ailments, my Blixa has slowed down (no more scaling walls) in his senior years.
He proceeded slowly towards me, letting out his distinctive yowl as he did so.
It was past due.
Learn 7 Common Signs That Your Cat Is in Pain
For a variety of reasons, determining whether or not your cat is in pain might be challenging. Cat owners may overlook the subtle indicators of discomfort in their cats, or they may not notice until their cats exhibit more evident signs of pain, such as lack of appetite and lethargy, before seeking medical attention. The presence of more evident symptoms in cats is not always the case, especially if they have been sick for a lengthy period of time or are quite unwell. It’s possible that by the time you detect that anything is wrong with your cat, the problem has been going on for longer than you realize.
This will allow you to give comfort and avoid medical conditions from deteriorating.
It Can Be Difficult to Tell If a Cat Is in Pain
Cats are masters at concealing their disease. This is due in part to the fact that cats are both prey and predator animals, and in the wild, not exhibiting discomfort can help to keep them safe from predators or other cats who may pose a threat. When they exhibit signals of discomfort, they become more vulnerable to assaults. Because cats hide their discomfort as a result of anxiety and worry, which is typical during veterinary appointments, it can also be difficult for your veterinarian to detect symptoms of suffering in your feline companion.
Signs of Pain
Pain may have an impact on cats’ behavior, just as it does on humans when they are dealing with it. In fact, behavioral changes in cats can occur before physical problems manifest themselves. It is critical for you to be familiar with your cat’s regular temperament and behaviors. There are several factors to consider, including your cat’s typical attitude and activity level; gait; food; sleep habits; thirst; and several other physical and behavioral traits. Even the smallest change might be an indication that your cat is unwell or in discomfort.
In the event that your cat is not acting like themselves, this might be a clue that they are in pain or discomfort.
It is important to note that changes in your cats’ daily routines should not necessarily be attributed to aging. A cat’s age, rather than being a sickness, increases the likelihood that the cat may be in discomfort as they grow older.
Occasionally, you may notice that your cat does not groom itself, or that when it does groom itself, the concentration is solely on his or her face and the front of its body. Cats are careful cleaners, so if you discover that your cat’s grooming habits have altered or that its coat is untidy, you should be concerned.
Your cat may become more reclusive, and he or she may even begin to hide. Our cats are attached to us and enjoy being involved and present in the environment where we are. When your cat suddenly stops greeting you at the entrance, sleeping with you, or engaging in other normally engaging habits, this might be a clue that something is wrong.
Less Activity and Low Energy
In certain cases, you may notice that your cat has less energy or less stamina to engage in formerly fun activities, such as playing with toys or chasing that red dot in the distance. Your cat may be hesitant to leap, go up and down stairs, get up from a laying down position, be restless, or have trouble finding a comfortable spot to rest due to this condition. If your cat’s sleeping patterns alter, you may notice that he or she is sleeping in strange postures and areas. You should pay attention to these changes.
Litter Box Changes
Cats frequently avoid using their litter boxes owing to the discomfort they experience when entering and exiting the box, as well as difficulties crouching in the box. When a cat’s hips or knees are in pain, it can be extremely difficult to maintain the squatting position. Other medical conditions, such as discomfort and urgency linked with them, might drive cats to avoid using the litter box altogether.
Cats that are in pain may also exhibit unusually aggressive behavior, such as biting. When people or other pets in the family approach a cat, it may growl or hiss in response. It may also be uncomfortable being handled and may detest being stroked or combed. Occasionally, they will bite or scratch, particularly when a person touches or moves the sore region, or if the cat predicts that you will do so.
Changes in Appetite and Water Intake
Cats that are suffering from pain may become disinterested in their food and water consumption. Any changes in your cat’s feeding and drinking habits should be reported to your veterinarian immediately. This can be a symptom of pain or a variety of other significant medical conditions.
It will look as if the cat is attempting to curl up into a ball, or it may appear to be sitting hunched over in a protected, crouching position, with its back curled higher than normal, its head down, and sometimes its front paws folded beneath it. You may have noticed that when the cat sleeps down, it keeps its legs curled up behind itself rather than sprawling out on its side like other cats do. Scratching actions may be avoided or difficult to engage in by the animal.
What to Do If You Suspect Your Cat Is in Pain
In general, cats should not be given pain relievers intended for people or dogs. Cats metabolize medications in a way that is distinct from that of other animals. Pain relievers that are often prescribed to people can be fatal to cats. Always seek veterinary treatment and talk with your veterinarian to determine the most effective pain management strategy. As a substitute for allowing your cat to suffer in quiet, see your veterinarian and handle any potential suffering. Our feline companions rely on us to speak for them, so keep a watchful eye on your cats and notify your veterinarian if there is anything wrong.
Always consult your veterinarian for health-related inquiries, since they have evaluated your pet and are familiar with the pet’s medical history, and they can provide the most appropriate suggestions for your pet.
How To Tell If Your Cat Is In Pain
What is the best way to tell whether my cat is in pain? A fairly typical question that owners ask their veterinarian is “Can I get a pet?” In fact, it is likely one that we hear on a regular basis. Cats are far more difficult to read than dogs, owing to the fact that they are more delicate in their communication and offer a great deal more room for interpretation. However, if you are familiar with your cat, chances are that you will be able to tell whether he is in discomfort. Here are a few examples of frequent circumstances.
- Then continue reading to find out more about what we currently know about pain in cats, as well as the answers to this brief “quiz.” A 17-year-old cat named Eggplant has developed a fear of jumping onto the kitchen counter, where he gets his food and water.
- Is this a usual occurrence?
- Despite the fact that she is eating and using the cat litter box as usual, she is resting “hunched over” in front of the fireplace, rather than reclining on her side on the ledge as she normally would.
- Is she in agony, or is this to be expected?
- She appears to be sleeping a bit more than normal, and despite her desire to eat, she does not complete her bowl of cereal.
- Finally, we have Crash, a 6-year-old kitten that was involved in an accident with a car a few days ago.
- Considering that he has always been temperamental, is this simply stress, or is he in pain?
- Isn’t it true that nothing is ever so simple?
- This implies that you will have to play detective in order to assess whether or not your cat is in pain — and you will have to look at all of the facts objectively.
Signs Your Cat Might Be In Pain
What are some of the subtle signs to keep an eye out for if you are concerned that your cat is in distress? First and foremost, keep an eye out for behavioral changes. If she has always preferred X but now chooses Y, this might be a subtle symptom of emotional distress on her part. Painful cats may be unwilling or unable of jumping up into preferred perches, and they may also modify their litter box routines, resting arrangements or even their food choices without warning. Listed below are seven particular changes that may suggest that your cat is in discomfort:
1. He wants to be left alone.
If your cat suddenly wants to be left alone, begins to shun other cats or dogs in the house, or appears gloomy or angry, it’s likely that anything is wrong with him or her.
2. He has a strange new grooming routine.
A cat’s grooming habits are normally highly meticulous, so if they abruptly stop grooming themselves, it might be a symptom of discomfort. Similar to this, if they are excessively grooming one place (a condition called as overgrooming), this may also signal an area of discomfort.
3. He’s moving more or moving less than normal.
Painful cats may be quite restless, or they may burrow down — sometimes in a strange position — and opt not to move much.
4. He’s sleeping more and/or in odd positions.
A subtle indicator can include sleeping more than usual or sleeping in a single posture for an extended period of time, or altering one’s habitual sleeping position. Consider how we sleep (or don’t sleep!) when we have a sore joint on our body. When a section of the body or side of the body aches, cats will “favor” that part or side of the body in the same way – sleeping on the right side if the left hip hurts, and so on.
5. His appetite has decreased or is non-existent.
It is possible that they will show little interest in food or drink at times, but this is less typical than in other species like as dogs. Many cats that are in discomfort continue to eat, albeit at a decreased rate in certain instances.
6. He is purring A LOT.
Nonstop purring is an unusual reaction by certain cats – not the cheerful purr in response to attention, but a purr almost to themselves, as if saying, “It’s OK. I understand.” “Everything will be OK.”
7. He’s acting hostile.
Some of the more evident indicators include growling, hissing, and swatting when touched or handled, as well as outright avoiding contact by distancing themselves from others.
Causes Of Pain In Cats
So, what is the source of discomfort in cats? We know for a certainty that cats are capable of feeling pain, and their behavior is very similar to that of humans. If it bothers us, it’s likely that it hurts them as well. Pain causes may be categorized into two categories, similar to how we do, namely acute pain and chronic pain.
Acute pain is frequently easy to notice because it corresponds to our mental “template” of what pain should feel like. It is characterized by a quick onset of pain, such as:
- A traumatic injury (such as a car accident, a fall, a broken bone, or a bite wound)
- An infection (such as tooth abscess, urinary tract infection, or skin abscess)
- Certain medical conditions (such as urinary tract obstructions, blood clots from the heart, or acute inflammation of the pancreas)
- And surgery (even “minor” procedures such as castrations and dental extractions)
Chronic pain is far more difficult to identify and diagnose than acute pain. This type of pain usually develops gradually and over time, but it may be just as debilitating. Because of the gradual and constant start, cats have enough opportunity to acclimate to their pain, and the symptoms gradually worsen over time. Owners frequently dismiss the symptoms as “natural” or “simply the result of becoming older.” Chronic pain can be caused by a variety of factors, including arthritis, some forms of cancer, long-term inflammatory conditions such as pancreatitis or interstitial cystitis (a specific type of bladder illness), and certain types of trauma that have long-term consequences.
What To Do If You Suspect Your Cat Is In Pain
Pain is real, and it *must* be handled, no matter how mild the indications and symptoms appear to be. Cats that hide their agony are nonetheless in pain, and they deserve to be provided with adequate pain medication. It doesn’t matter whether your arthritic knee need pain medicine; theirs does, too. When in doubt, it is always preferable to visit your veterinarian and manage possible suffering rather than just ignoring it altogether. What is the one thing that most of us tell our family and friends about ourselves?
Our cats must rely on us to make such decisions on their behalf.
Instead, it is probable that he is doing what cats do best: suffering in quiet, as described above.
Cats metabolize medications in a way that is distinct from that of other animals.
So let’s go back to the beginning of the narrative and revisit our ensemble of people.
Eggplant, the senior kitten that was unable to jump to his food station, is most likely in discomfort.
After being treated with a mix of acupuncture and arthritis medicine, he was able to jump up and down on the counter for every meal – as well as some wicked moments in between!
She was in a great deal of discomfort.
Following her first dosage of post-operative pain medicine, she was able to sleep considerably more soundly than before.
Subcutaneous fluids, a specific diet, and other drugs were used in conjunction to keep her condition under control and stable.
Isn’t it a difficult distinction to make?
He is in discomfort and need quick medical attention and pain treatment.
Despite this, cats may be very subtle, making it easy to ignore signs of discomfort.
Pain drugs, much like people, are considerably more effective when administered early in the course of pain, when they do not have to play catch up to the body’s natural healing process.
Remember the first commandment: Do not cause harm to a member of your family who is dear to you! Dr. Sandra Mitchell contributed to this article. TuelekZa/iStock/Thinkstock is used as the featured picture.