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How To Tell If a Cat Is In Pain

Cats are naturally skilled at hiding signs of pain which can make spotting the signs challenging. So, what are the signs of pain in cats that you should be looking for? Our Delaware County vets explain.

Pain in Cats

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 it is essential for pet parents to always keep a watchful eye for uncharacteristic behavior, personality changes, an unusual stride, or changes in appetite.

How do I know if my cat is in pain?

Common signs of pain in cats include the following:

  • 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
  • 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

What changes in body language can indicate that my cat is in pain?

Cats in pain will often display changes in body language. These changes may be easily spotted but often times these changes are more subtle. 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

Will my cat's face give me an indication of whether they feel pain?

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 should I take my cat to the vet?

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.

If your cat is showing signs of pain contact Stoney Creek Veterinary Hospital to book an urgent appointment for your feline friend. Our experienced Delaware County vets can diagnose your kitty's issue and begin treatment right away.

New Patients Welcome

Stoney Creek Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Delaware County companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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(610) 328-3600