How To Tell If a Cat is in Pain
Your cat may display signs of pain differently from other cats. How they act can vary depending on their breed, age, and a few other factors.
If your cat has acute pain from an immediate injury, like a cut on the paw, they'll usually make it clear by limping on that paw or yowling when they walk. Chronic pain, like gum disease or spine pain, is a bit trickier; they might hide from you in your home if they have pain like this because they're unsure what to do about it or how to signal what they're feeling.
This is why it is important for pet owners to keep a keen eye on their kitty for changes in behavior, energy, or appetite.
Signs of Pain in Cats
There is a wide range of symptoms a cat in pain can display. Some of these signs and symptoms of a cat in pain include:
- Frequent or ongoing meowing or howling
- Litter box accidents, urinating outside of their litter box
- Tail flicking
- Won't eat or reduced appetite
- Poor grooming, scruffy-looking
- Reduced energy, lethargy, or lack of interest in play or going outside
- Hiding, no interest in spending time with you or other family members
- Avoiding being handled, picked up, or petted
- Behavioral changes such as refusing to jump onto a bed or furniture that they typically love to be on
- Irritable mood, short-tempered with people or other pets including
- Uncharacteristic hissing, growling, or spitting
- Unusual vocalizations (meowing more than usual, crying)
- Excessive grooming
- Patchy fur
How Cat Behavior Changes When They Are in Pain
When a cat experiences pain or discomfort they will likely exhibit changes in their overall behavior. Our vets recommend always monitoring your cat's overall demeanor, stance, and the way they walk so that any changes from their normal will be easily spotted. Changes can be subtle or more obvious.
Some of the changes in behavior and body language are:
- Tensed body
- Crouching or being hunched over
- Lowering head
How the Signs of Pain May Show on Your Cat's Face
Whether or not a cat shows changes in facial expressions with pain depends on the cat itself. If your cat is in pain they might:
- Squint or close their eyes tightly
- Flatten their ears so that they are pressed to the sides or back of their head
- Project an overall facial appearance of tension with a tight mouth
When Should You Visit the Vet?
Unfortunately, the obvious signs of pain in cats usually don't begin to show until the pain is much more serious. When it comes to your cat's long-term health it's always best to err on this side of caution.
If your feline friend is displaying signs of pain contact your vet right away to schedule an examination, or visit your local after-hours animal hospital. To help preserve your cat's good quality of life pain management, and treatment of painful conditions early are essential.
If your vet examines your feline friend and determines that they are in need of further diagnostics or specialized care, they may refer you to a specialized animal hospital such as ours.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.