How Do I Tell If My Cat Is In Pain
Recognising early signs of pain in your cat is important in keeping your cat happy and healthy as well as addressing any potential illnesses.
While most cats who are experiencing intense, short-term pain will be more likely to give clues that they are hurt, cats suffering with symptoms of chronic pain or illness can sometimes hide their discomfort for long periods of time. This kind of pain can also impact cats long-term at an emotional level, causing them distress and making them less resilient.
For example, if a cat injures their paw and has obvious trouble walking on it, is very vocal , and is reluctant to let you touch their paw, you can quite quickly tell that the cat is in pain. On the other hand, a cat that has a more chronic condition such as dental disease or arthritis may show very little indication that they are in pain, perhaps only displaying signs when it reaches a high level of intensity.
Every cat will show different signs that they are in pain, so its important to be aware of any slight change in their behaviour or body language.
Eliminating Outside Of The Litter Box
Cats do not stop using their litter boxes for no apparent reason. While there are several reasons a cat may start eliminating outside of the litter box, pain is one of the most common. If your cat is experiencing pain in their knees, hips, elbows, or spine, entering and exiting the box can be painful. Likewise, this type of pain can make getting into and maintaining a squatting position nearly impossible. These cats often become constipated since having a bowel movement is uncomfortable for them. They may hold it for several days and then really have trouble going. Watching for changes in stool consistency is essential too.
Other painful medical issues can affect litter box usage, too. If your cat is experiencing pain during urination, for example, they may associate the discomfort with the litter box and stop using it. Whatever the case may be, a cat who starts eliminating outside of the litter box is trying to tell you that something is wrong.
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.
You May Like: Cats Drinking Christmas Tree Water
A Sick Cat May Exhibit Changes In Behavior
If a super-active cat starts spending most of her day sleeping, this could be a sign that you have a sick cat. Likewise, if a cat becomes grumpy, its not because shes just getting old. I learned this the hard way when, after Siouxsie had four painful teeth extracted, her whole disposition changed. Normally sedate cats can become really hyper and agitated as a result of pain, too.
Decreased Appetite And Thirst
Pain can be a powerful appetite and thirst suppressant both in humans and in animals! If your cat seems to have lost interest in eating or drinking, it could be a sign that they are experiencing pain. Changes in eating and drinking habits could be symptoms of many other serious medical problems, too, so it is always best to alert your veterinarian.
Also Check: How Long Does A Tuxedo Cat Live
Cat Has A Noticeable Change In Activity
If your cat is usually quite active, a reduction in their movement should always be investigated by a vet. There are several causes for this, however, a drop in activity can be a warning sign that your cat may be in pain. You may also notice that your cat no longer jumps up, or they are lying down more than usual.
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:
Don’t Miss: How Old Is A 12 Year Old Cat
What About Chronic Pain
According to Dr Tobaoda, around 90 per cent of animals in pain at home are going to be in some degree of chronic pain rather than acute pain.
While vets use scales to identify acute pain, they rely heavily on pet parents to spot when their cat is suffering from chronic pain as a result of conditions such as osteoarthritis and kidney disease.
Signs to look out for are:
- Lack of interest in food
- Not moving around or jumping up onto things as much
- Changes to how they use litter trays or scratching poles
“But everything is a lot more subtle than acute pain,” said Dr Toboada, who is particularly interested in helping animals with this type of pain.
The grimace scale could be a “game-changer” in the future with more work.
“We know the grimace scale for rats that was validated for acute pain can be used effectively for chronic pain,” Dr Toboada.
In his senior years, my Blixa slowed down thanks to the effects of osteoarthritis and a myriad of other old cat diseases.
He remained pretty perky on a low dose of anti-inflammatories until one day exactly a year ago.
At the ripe old age of 22 he let out his trademark yowl and walked slowly towards me. It was time.
A Sick Cat Might Exhibit Changes In Litter Box Habits
Cats with painful backs and hips may have trouble using the litter box as well as they used to. Holding the appropriate positions for peeing and pooping can be very difficult for a sick cat with sore hips or knees. Kissy peed up the side of the box and got urine on the floor and walls, for example, because her bad knee made it too painful for her to maintain the usual pee squat.
Tell us: Are there other subtle cat pain signs that youve noticed? Please share them in the comments.
Thumbnail: Photography by Nikolay Bassov | Shutterstock.
This piece was originally published in 2015.
You May Like: Are Christmas Trees Poisonous To Cats
How To Tell If Your Cat Is In Pain And What To Do
If your cat is in pain, you may miss some of the signs if you dont know what to look for.
Kitties dont typically display pain as overtly as other animals might. They dont often yowl if they feel sick in fact, they might even try to hide their pain until theyre seriously ill.
That makes sense if you think about cats in the wild. They wouldnt want to advertise to potential predators that theyre feeling vulnerable. However, for our furry family members, we need to know when theyre in pain so we can help them.
How do you know that your cat is in pain and its time to take them to the vet? Here are a few signs that can help you tell if your cat is hurting.
Excessive Licking Or Grooming
A cat with an injured or arthritic limb may begin licking and grooming the injured part excessively. Allergies and skin conditions can also cause cats to over-groom.
If you notice your cat paying too much attention to one part of their body, such as a leg, that may indicate that they feel pain or irritation in that area.
If theyre limping in addition to this, you should probably take them to a vet and get them checked out.
Also Check: What Happens If Your Allergic To Cats
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.
Researchers Have Determined 25 Key Behaviours Which Show A Cat Could Be In Pain
Find your bookmarks in your Independent Premium section, under my profile
When it comes to pets, most of us would like to think we’re quite in tune with our furry loved ones. But how do we really know how they’re feeling, and can we tell when they’re not having a great time?
Thankfully, a new study has revealed the 25 definitive signs that show if your beloved pet cat is in pain.
Researchers have determined key behaviours for all feline owners to look out for if they fear their furry friend could be under the weather.
Which is handy as cats are not able to tell us themselves.
Published in the journal PLOS One, entitled “Behavioural Signs of Pain in Cats: An Expert Consensus”, the study recruited 19 experts to take part.
They narrowed down an initial list of 91 behaviours to 25 through four rounds of elimination.
Recommended Reading: How To Stop Cat From Scratching Door
Eye Position And Expression
This one is much more subtle, and unless you are very observant you may not pick up on it at all. A painful cat may sometimes have slanted eyes that are squinting or partially closed. They may also have dilated pupils , and a generally strange expression on their face. Or they may seem to zone out and just stare blankly ahead. Now there are lots of reasons why a cat will show one or more of these things, so dont be too quick to diagnose your cat as painful if you dont notice any other signs. But if you do notice a strange look in their eyes, its probably best to have them checked out by a vet.
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.
You May Like: How Old Is A Cat In 1 Human Year
How Can I Tell If My Cat Is In Pain
This page may contain affiliate links. We earn a commission for qualifying purchases at no cost to you. Our mission is to help save dogs’ and cats lives through our educational content. To help us create more veterinarian- and trainer-approved content, please consider buying one of our web-books for yourself or as a gift.
As a general rule, most cats are excellent at hiding their pain. Fortunately, there are many signs you can look for that may indicate your cat is in pain. Knowing what to look for is the key, so you can prevent your cat from suffering in silence.
Is My Cat In Pain
When in pain or discomfort, cats will often disguise that they are suffering. As their owner, this can make it difficult for you to understand whats wrong, as unlike humans, they arent able to tell you how they are feeling.
There can be several reasons why your cat is in pain. Significant discomfort can be caused by many factors including problems with their teeth, arthritis, abdominal pain, injury, or your cat may have caught an infection. Cats can show visible signs of why they are in pain, where as some cats may not display any obvious symptoms at all.
Recommended Reading: How To Keep Cats Off Cars
Why Cats Hide Their Pain
Cats have a long history of surviving in the wild prior to becoming domesticated- and they have not forgotten this. A cat in pain is seen as weak- therefore, making them prime targets for predators. In order to survive, they have adapted a deep natural instinct to hide their pain.
Your cat will not cry out in pain, for fear that they will attract the attention of a predator. If they are crying out in pain, their condition is likely intense and quite severe.
Tips To Care For Cats With Chronic Pain
If your cat has chronic pain from arthritis or another health condition, you can help improve their quality of life by making adjustments to their environment.
- Put all of their essentials, including their litterbox, food and water bowls, bedding, and toys all on the same floor so they can avoid the stairs.
- Block off areas that may be hazardous to your cat. For instance, if your cat is tripping on the stairs, install a baby or pet gate to keep your cat off them.
- Use ramps or small sets of steps to help your cat get up to high places, like the couch, bed, or a favorite napping spot.
- Place area rugs, carpet runners, or yoga mats on areas that are highly trafficked by your cat to help prevent them from tripping or slipping.
- Help your cat maintain a healthy weight with proper nutrition and an appropriate amount of exercise. If your cat needs to lose weight, talk to your veterinarian about a safe way to get started.
- If your cat has pain in their neck, raise their food and water bowls, so they don’t have to bend down to eat or drink.
- Provide your cat with a soft pet bed to help them settle down more comfortably.
Also Check: How Much Should A Cat Eat Daily
Facial Expression Signs Of A Cat In Pain
Some cats may show an obvious change in their facial expression when in pain, while with others it may be more subtle for example:
- Your cat may squint or close their eyes.
- Their ears may appear slightly flattened or pressed to the sides.
- Their mouth, nose and cheeks may appear tenser and more compressed.
Some cats may be less obvious about displaying signs that theyre in pain and may display some but not all of them.
If you have any concerns about your cat being in pain, take them for an assessment by your vet as soon as possible.
What Are The Symptoms Of End Stage Lymphoma In Cats
When your cat has this disease, its important to recognize and understand the end stages, and to know what choices to make for your cats sake. At the end stage of lymphoma, the cancer invades organs and bones any place where the lymphatic system connects. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness and lack of appetite or refusal to eat.
Don’t Miss: How To Take A Tick Off A Cat
Cats Eating Habits Have Changed
If a cat is distressed, their appetite can change. If your cat doesnt seem interested in eating solid food and would rather lick the jelly, this can be a sign that their teeth are causing them pain. You may also find your cat is no longer eating at all.
It would be rare for your cat to show all of these signs at once, and you may just notice one or two of these symptoms. If you suspect your cat is experiencing even the most subtle signs of being in pain, it is best to book an appointment with a vet to have them examined by an expert as soon as possible.
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.
Recommended Reading: Is Dried Eucalyptus Safe For Cats
How Do I Know If My Cat Is In Pain
For cats, pain encompasses more than just the I hurt sensation, but also the overall distress that it can cause. As the World Small Animal Associations Global Pain Council puts it:
Pain is a complex multi-dimensional experience involving sensory and affective components. In other words, pain is not just about how it feels, but how it makes you feel, and it is those unpleasant feelings that cause the suffering we associate with pain.
As a pet parent, you want an easy way to tell if your cat is in pain. As a veterinarian, I want the same thing.
I wish I had tools to help my patients, like the facial expression scale physicians for people. But you cant just say, Okay Frisky, just put your paw on the face that best expresses how you feel today.
Instead, we have to rely on a cats behavior to evaluate pain.
Fortunately, weve received a little help in this regard with the publication of a paper entitled, Behavioural Signs of Pain in Cats: An Expert Consensus.
Lets take a look at what the experts have to say about the signs of pain in cats.