To provide your cat with all the care they need to live a long and healthy life, it's important to be able to spot the signs of pain early and know what to do. Below, our Seattle vets discuss some of the signs that your cat is in pain, and what you can do to help.
How To Tell If a Cat is in Pain
Signs that a cat is in pain vary depending both upon the personality of the cat and the type of pain they are experiencing.
Most cats will show obvious signs of acute pain if they have an accident or injury but it can be much more challenging to tell if your cat is experiencing chronic pain such as pain caused by arthritis or gum disease.
Because cats instinctively hide signs of pain, pet parents must always keep a watchful eye for uncharacteristic behavior, personality changes, an unusual stride, or changes in appetite.
Signs That a Cat is in Pain
If your kitty is experiencing pain you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- Frequent or ongoing meowing or howling
- Litter box accidents, urinating outside of their litterbox
- 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
Posture & Body Language Changes That Could Mean Your Cat is in Pain
Cats in pain will often display changes in body language. In some cases, the body language changes of a cat in pain will be very noticeable but often times these changes are more subtle. Our vets recommend continually monitoring your cat's overall demeanor, stance, and gait so that any changes from their normal will be easily spotted.
- Body language changes related to pain in cats include:
- Tense looking body
- Crouched or being hunched over
- Head lowered
How Pain Could Be Expressed on Your Cat's Face
While many cats show little or no change in their facial expression while experiencing pain, some cats are very expressive. 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 To Seek Veterinary Care For a Cat In Pain
Often signs of pain in cats are missed until the cat's condition is advanced. Regarding 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.
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.