How to Tell If a Cat Is in Pain
Indicators that a cat is in pain can 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.
Signs That a Cat Is in Pain
If your kitty is experiencing pain you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- Frequent meowing or howling
- Not using their litterbox
- Tail flicking
- Won't eat or reduced appetite
- Poor grooming, scruffy looking
- Excessive hiding
- Avoiding being handled
- Behavioral changes
- Uncharacteristic hissing/growling/spitting
- Unusual vocalizations
- Excessive grooming
- Patchy fur
Changes in a Cat's Posture & Body Language
Cats in pain will often display changes in body language. In some cases, the body language changes of a cat in pain will be very noticeable but often these changes are more subtle. Our veterinarians recommend continuously monitoring your cat's overall demeanor, stance, and gait so that any changes from their normal behavior will be easily spotted.
Body language changes related to pain in cats include:
- Tense-looking body
- Crouched or being hunched over
- Head lowered
Pain 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
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 seek emergency veterinary care. 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.