What Kind Of Behavior Changes Might I See In My Cat That Could Be A Sign Shes In Pain
One of the most common pain-associated behavior changes we see in aging cats is a decrease in grooming and self-care. Cats are, by nature, extremely finicky about keeping themselves clean. Watch any conscious cat for longer than a few minutes, and you are likely to see it cleaning some part of its body.
Osteoarthritis is one of the most common chronically painful ailments in cats, affecting more than 90% of cats 10 years of age and older. Spinal arthritis makes it uncomfortable to twist and turn, so grooming the body, especially the hind end, becomes difficult. OA in the lower spine and hips can make the area over the pelvis and upper rear legs tender. When grooming the lower back, pelvis, and rear legs becomes painful, the cat simply stops taking care of its coat. Areas of the cat’s body that are not groomed become matted, and the cat develops an overall unkempt appearance. When we try to help them out by using a comb or brush, they tend to object.
“One of the most common pain-associated behavior changes in aging cats is a decrease in grooming and self-care.”
If you notice your cat developing matted hair or flaky skin, make an appointment with your veterinarian, as this can be an important signal of pain. Because cats like to be clean, a dirty cat is not normal. If your cat has trouble grooming even after its pain is well managed, consider having a groomer give it a ‘lion cut’ to make the body hair short and easy to keep clean.
Behaviour Signs Of A Cat In Pain
- Reduced appetite.
- Being withdrawn and hiding away.
- Appearing lame and experiencing increased sensitivity to touch in specific areas of their body.
- Reduction in movement and activity.
- Changes in behavioural patterns. For example, your cat may start to avoid doing things that they either know or think will cause them pain. They may no longer jump up onto beds or other raised surfaces due to the expectation that this will hurt.
- Poor mood and temperament; increased irritability.
- Vocalisation e.g. frequent unpleasant or urgent sounding meowing, groaning, hissing, growling.
- When in pain, your cat may actively or passively avoid being handled by either moving away from people or behaving aggressively when approached or touched.
Is Your Cat Eating Normally
A cat in pain eats less.;Along with wanting to hide and not participate in the world in general acat in pain will eat less, or be less enthusiastic about food.; If your cat is not eating at all, there issomething seriously wrong.; Watch yourcat eat.; Are they tilting theirhead?; Are they drooling? ;Do they shake their head?; Cats with tooth pain often will give a headjerk and sometime even say Yow while eating.;Mouth pain will also sometimes make them paw at their mouth.;
Very little advice applies 100% to every cat.; It is important you know your cat and what isnormal for your cat.; These are commonsigns to look for, and hopefully will help you be able to better assess howyour cat is feeling.; Changes in routineare a sign of some kind of change in their life.; Watching their behavior can tell you a lotabout how they are feeling.; Avoidingactivities such as jumping or playing or eating, increased aggression andirritability, drooling, and rapid breathing are all warning signs that your catis hurting.
Thank you to Guest Author Sasha B. Furr for writing this article. Sasha is not a vet but has cared for special needs cats for almost 20 years. She draws on her experience with her cats and the advice her vets have given her.
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How Your Vet Can Help
Any abnormal behavior from your cat should prompt a visit to her veterinarian, who can help determine whether these changes are due to pain or illness and then work with you to treat the underlying cause. The vet can also help with pain managementthis might include prescription pain medication, heat therapy, physical rehabilitation, or even massage.
If your kitty is overweight, your vet might also place her on a weight-management food, especially if she’s experiencing chronic joint pain. Certain joint supplements can help maintain her mobility too, but you may ultimately want to explore a therapeutic food to help manage an underlying condition.
One thing you should never do for your kitty is to administer over-the-counter pain medications, which could be very toxic to feline digestive systems. You should also check with your vet regarding any supplements you plan to give her to make sure they’re safe. The vet might also prescribe mood-stabilizing drugs to help your sick cat cope with both the pain and accompanying changes in her lifestyle.
Have A Sick Cat 9 Ways To Tell If Your Cat Is In Pain
Some of the most profoundly heartbreaking moments of my cat-caretaking life revolve around being unable to tell how much pain my beloved friends were suffering. Even though I know cats are very good at disguising their pain, I cant help but guilt-trip myself sometimes over this health issue, because as a person whos lived with cats almost all my life, I should be able to notice when somethings out of whack. A sick cat will show symptoms, although often theyre quite subtle. In hopes of helping you recognize signs of pain that eluded me, here are some tips that could signal a sick cat or a cat in pain.
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How To Prevent Illness In Cats
Many owners underestimate the importance of routine veterinary;care for cats. They may wait several years to bring their cats to the vet for check-ups. Worse, they sometimes wait until their cat is sick. It’s understandable that people would want to avoid putting their cats through;the stress of a veterinary;visit. Some cats become very anxious or even aggressive at the vet. Rather than waiting, try to find a veterinary practice that is less stressful for your cat. Many feline-friendly practices are out there, some even cat-only practices. Alternatively, you may consider finding a mobile vet who can come to your home. Many cats do better in a familiar environment.
Annual veterinary exams are essential for cats. Senior cats can benefit from biannual check-ups and routine lab work. These visits give the vet an opportunity to examine your cat when he appears healthy. The vet may find minor abnormalities on the exam that indicate a minor problem before your cat gets really sick. Early detection might mean you and your vet can take action before the illness becomes serious.
You can also keep your cat as healthy as possible by feeding a healthy diet. A healthy diet can help your cat avoid obesity and a wide array of other health issues. Many vets recommend wet diets high in protein and low in carbohydrates.
Be sure to use routine parasite prevention as recommended by your vet. This can prevent fleas, intestinal parasites, and other parasites from making your cat sick.
Symptoms Of Movement Posture And Activity Levels
Cats are generally extremely agile. When youre wondering how to tell if your cat is in pain; looking at the way they move is a good starting point.
- Lameness This could be as a result of a fall or injury. In an older cat, it could indicate an arthritic condition.
- Difficulty jumping This is more subtle than outright lameness. If your cat is straining or pausing before taking a jump they could be in pain.
- Abnormal gait As with humans, if walking the way they usually would hurts, cats will alter their gait to one that causes less discomfort.
- Shifting of weight Shifting around to try to get comfortable while standing, lying or sitting.
- Reluctance to move Cats are usually mobile so if they dont want to move they may be in a considerable degree of discomfort.
- Overall activity decrease Its easy to put this down to ageing, but its worth getting your vet to check your cat over if youve noticed that theyre just not as active as they used to be.
- Hunched-up posture and lower head posture These two are listed separately but if you ask an experienced cat companion how to tell if a cat is in pain, they might well mention either or both of these postural changes. A hunched up cat or one with a low head just looks miserable, and if theres no other obvious reason for it, physical pain is a strong possibility.
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Reluctance To Jump Onto Surfaces
A stiff or rigid posture or changes in their general movements, such as a lack of agility or reluctance to jump up onto surfaces are all indications your cat could be suffering and should be checked by a vet
Signs also to watch for are avoidance of going up and down stairs, or having difficulty standing up after lying down.
Alternative Therapies For Pain
If your cat has chronic pain, ask your veterinarian about alternative therapies. There are many different options available for cats these days, including acupuncture, therapeutic ultrasound, water therapy, cold laser therapy, physical therapy, and even emerging stem cell therapies.
For example, cats experiencing pain from arthritis may benefit from passive range of motion exercises. PROM is a form of physical therapy that helps increase the motion of a joint by carefully stretching the muscles and tendons. You should have a trained veterinary physical therapist show you how to do these exercises so you can make sure you’re doing them safely and won’t harm your cat.
You may be surprised to know that you can get pet insurance coverage for alternative therapies. Get a free quote to learn more about the options available for your cat.
The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.
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What To Do If Your Cat Is Sick
If your cat is displaying any unusual behaviors it’s worth a trip to the vet for diagnosis and treatment. Early detection and treatment of illnesses can help to prevent conditions from becoming more severe or potentially life-threatening.
Cat injuries or illnesses often require urgent medical attention, surgery or even emergency care. It is essential to seek professional veterinary advice as soon as possible. The sooner treatment begins, the sooner your furry friend will be acting more like themselves again.
Abnormal Body Positions Could Mean Trouble
A cat in severe pain will sit hunched up with her feet tucked under her and her nose almost on the floor. But there are other abnormal positions that may not be so obvious. For example, in the first video I shared in my post about medical cannabis, Siouxsie was walking in short strides with a hunched gait.
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What Can You Do To Manage My Cats Pain
First and foremost your cat needs a full examination from their veterinarian, in order to determine what is causing their pain. From there, your vet will draw up a treatment plan in order to address your cats individual issue.
Depending on the condition, there are a variety of methods to treat your cats pain. Your doctor will likely recommend one or more of the following:
Peeing Outside The Litter Box
If your cat is litter trained and suddenly starts going potty outside the litter box, it could be a sign that somethings wrong.
A kitty who goes right outside the litter box might actually have a medical condition, like an undiagnosed case of hip dysplasia. More commonly, cats with UTIs frequently end up going outside the litter box or even on their humans favorite furniture or clothing.
They do this because theyve associated the litter box with pain, and theyre trying to get your attention to the fact that somethings wrong.
If you suspect a urinary tract infection, you should take your cat to the vet right away. UTIs in male cats can be fatal.
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How Can I Manage My Cats Pain
Recognising whether your cat is experiencing any of these pain signals is the first step to helping them get on the road to being fit and healthy again. There are a range of medications which can help reduce these symptoms and many treatments dont involve prescribing tablets.
If you are concerned about your pet being in severe discomfort, requiring emergency treatment, or have noticed a series of changes over a period of time and are worried that your cat may be in pain, contact your;local Animal Trust;surgery.
One of our friendly and experienced vets will happily examine them; our consultations are always free with you only paying for any medication or treatment your pet requires. Not only will this give you peace of mind, but it will help ensure your cat can live a full and pain-free life.
Symptoms Of A Sick Cat
Cats, like many animals, are remarkably good at hiding their discomfort when they are ill. In fact, signs of illness may not be obvious until your cat is feeling very unwell. That’s why it’s important to visit your Bartlett vet as soon as possible if you notice any of the following signs or symptoms:
- Constricted or dilated pupils
- No inclination to play or appearing lethargic
- Much less or much more vocal than usual;
- Sudden changes in appetite, drinking, or eating habits;
- Noticeable weight loss or gain
- Rapid breathing or shortness of breath
- Neglecting grooming or over-grooming
- Improper use of litter box
- Limping or injuries;
- Discharge from eyes or nose;
- Hair loss or skin irritation
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Changes In Sleep Habits
Pain may also cause changes in your cats sleep patterns. They might struggle to find a comfortable position in which to rest, or you may find them sleeping in strange places. Cats who are in pain may sleep more or less than usual, too. Cats in pain may also seek out warmer places to rest, such as a sunny spot or heating pad. Cats will hardly ever sleep on the floor; they prefer elevated resting spots. If you notice your cat laying in lower places, this can be a warning sign too.
Cats Rarely Get Credit For Being Attuned With Humans
In our quest to find out more about the ways that cats demonstrate that they are aware and/or care about human pain, we asked readers to share their stories. Here are just a few and some were life-saving stories.
Whats the moral of the story? Definitely pay attention to your cats behavior. They may sometimes act in funny and sometimes annoying ways but take note. Your kitty may be alerting you to a serious problem that could save your life.
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Is He Acting Differently
The most common sign of illness in some cats is hiding in a quiet, out-of-the-way place. Sick cats often lie quietly in a hunched position.They might neglect grooming. They may be purring, which cats do not only when they’re happy, but also when they’re sick or in pain. A cat with breathing difficulties may refuse to lie on his side and may keep his head raised. Cats with neurological problems may be confused, have seizures or press their heads into furniture or walls. This is not the head butting that cats do on your leg affectionately but rather prolonged pressing on a surface.
Signs Your Feline May Be Experiencing Tooth Pain
Although it can be difficult to discern if your feline is in pain, cats often do provide clues that dental disease may present. Some of these clues or clinical signs include:
- Bad breath
A cat with a painful mouth may be reluctant to eat until they are absolutely hungry, then vomit up the food. Some cats may simply go up to the food bowl and growl. They would like to eat, but it hurts to go through the physical process of chewing.
Cats have a rough tongue with barbs called papillae on their tongue. Their tongue is important for grooming as well as eating furry prey in the wild. When a painful mouth is present, cats may ingest food using only their tongue. This can result in the kibble filling up their stomach leading to chronic vomiting after eating. Unfortunately, many cats still do not show outward signs of oral pain when they are dealing with dental disease. They will often continue to eat since their survival instinct to eat is so strong.
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How To Tell If A Cat Is In Pain: 25 Signs You Can Look For
Reviewed and updated for accuracy on October 21, 2019 by Dr. Hanie Elfenbein, DVM, PhD
Recognizing when a cat is in pain is difficult except in the most extreme cases. Thousands of years of natural selection have made cats VERY good at masking pain.
After all, its generally not a good idea to advertise the fact that youre not at your best when a predator or potential mate might be nearby.
Know Your Cats Routine
Given this, first and foremost you must know your cat well.; Overall cats are creatures of habit, they have favorite places to sleep, hide, play, favorite toys and treats.; They have preferred ways of showing affection and being patted.; Any change in a cats normal behavior is indicative of something.; Is your cat mad that you moved their favorite chair?; Or is there another reason they havent been sunning themselves in that room?
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