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Signs of Pain in Cats & What to Do

Signs of Pain in Cats & What to Do

Cats are really good at hiding pain. This can make spotting the pain and figuring out the cause incredibly difficult. Here, our Mandeville vets talk about the signs of pain in cats and how to tell if you need to seek veterinary care.

Pain in Cats: Why is it so difficult to spot?

The signs of pain in cats can vary depending on the intensity and source of the pain and the demeanor of the cat itself.

Pain that is suddenly experienced, also known as acute pain, will likely cause a more noticeable reaction in your cat compared to that of ongoing, chronic pain.

Because cats instinctively hide signs of pain it is essential for pet parents to always keep a watchful eye for uncharacteristic behavior, personality changes, an unusual stride, or changes in appetite.

The Various Signs of Pain in Cats

Some of the typical symptoms of pain in cats include:

  • 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
  • Limping
  • 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
  • Panting
  • Patchy fur

How Your Cat May Behave Differently

Most cats will have some form of change in behavior if they are experiencing pain. While the signs may be obvious or subtle depending on a number of factors. Our vets recommend always 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

The Facial Expressions That Your Cat May Make

Many cats will make noticeable facial expressions when they are in pain so it's a good idea to watch for this. 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

How to Tell That Your Cat May Need Veterinary Care

Most cats are notorious for hiding any signs of pain until it is advanced and much more intense. 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.

If you have noticed the above signs of pain in your cat, contact our Mandeville vets right away to schedule an examination.

New Patients Welcome

At Riverside Veterinary Hospital, we are always accepting new patients. Our veterinary team is passionate about the health and well-being of companion animals in Mandeville. Book your first appointment today.

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(985) 626-7297