Cats are typically self-reliant and show a reserved demeanor, so they may conceal their pain when they feel it. Therefore, cat owners must be able to identify any discomfort their feline companions may be experiencing to seek appropriate treatment. Our veterinarians at Jackson will provide you with information on how to detect signs of pain in cats and what steps you can take to help them.
How To Tell If a Cat is in Pain
Every cat is different, so their pain symptoms may not always be the same. The way they respond can be influenced by their breed, age, and other factors.
When a cat experiences sudden pain, such as a paw injury, they typically indicate it by limping or crying out while walking. Chronic pain, like spine pain or gum disease, can be more difficult to identify as the cat may retreat and conceal themselves since they're unsure of how to express their discomfort.
Therefore, cat owners must be observant of changes in their cat's behavior, energy levels, or eating habits.
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 how 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 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
Pain symptoms in cats are sometimes not noticed until their condition worsens. To ensure your cat's long-term health, it's best to be cautious and act quickly.
If your cat shows any signs of pain, it's important to contact your veterinarian right away to schedule an examination or visit an after-hours animal hospital. Early pain management and treatment of painful conditions are crucial in maintaining your cat's good quality of life.
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.