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Signs That a Cat is in Pain

A cat's natural instincts lead them to hide whenever they experience pain or illness, which can make it challenging for pet parents to determine when their feline friend is hurt or unwell. Today, our Westminster vets discuss signs of pain in cats and how to help.

Pain in Cats

The personality of your cat and the type of pain they are experiencing both play a role in determining the signs of pain your cat may exhibit.

Most cats will show obvious signs of acute pain if they have an accident or injury but chronic pain caused by conditions such as arthritis or gum disease can be much more challenging to spot. 

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 To Tell If A Cat Is In Pain

If your feline friend is experiencing pain or discomfort they will likely exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:

  • 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
  • Lethargy, lack of energy, or lack of interest in play or going outside
  • Hiding, no interest in spending time with you or other family members
  • Pronounced limp
  • Reluctance to be 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

Posture & Body Language That Can Indicate Pain in Cats

Your cat's body language may change noticeably if they are experiencing pain or discomfort, in other cases these changes may be 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. 

Cats in pain may show the following body language:
  • Body appears to be tense
  • Crouched or being hunched over
  • Head lowered

Cat Facial Expressions That May Be a Sign of Pain

While many cats show little or no change in their facial expression while experiencing pain, some cats are very expressive. If your kitty is in pain you may notice that they:

  • 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

Seeking Veterinary Care

It is surprisingly common for the signs of pain in cats to be missed until the cat's condition is advanced. When it comes to your kitty'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.

Do you think that your feline family member is experiencing pain? Contact Wachusett Animal Hospital right away to book an examination for your cat. 

Welcoming Cats & Dogs to Our Animal Hospital

Wachusett Animal Hospital and Pet Retreat is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Westminster companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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