Cats are naturally stoic and independent creatures, which means they tend to hide their pain. It is important for owners to be able to recognize discomfort in their kitties so they can get it treated. Our Hattiesburg and Petal vets share signs of pain in cats and how you can help them.
How To Tell If a Cat is in Pain
Cats can show pain differently from one another, and it can vary based on their breed, age, and other factors. When cats experience acute pain from an immediate injury, such as a cut on the paw, they typically indicate it by limping or yowling while walking.
Chronic pain, like gum disease or spine pain, can be more challenging to detect. In such cases, cats may hide at home because they are unsure how to handle the pain or communicate their discomfort to their owners.
That's why it's crucial for pet owners to closely observe their cats for any changes in behavior, energy levels, or appetite. These subtle changes may indicate underlying pain or discomfort that requires attention and proper care.
Signs of Pain in Cats
There are 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
Ways That Your Cat's Posture & Body Language May Change if They Are in Pain
Cats will often change their body language if they're in pain. 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.
Body language changes related to pain in cats include:
- Tensed body
- Crouching or being hunched over
- Lowering head
How Pain Could Be Expressed in 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. 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.
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.