8 Ways to Know If Your Cat Is in Pain

Recognizing signs of pain in your cat early is essential to help ensure their long-term happiness and health. However, it’s not always easy to work out when your cat is suffering from discomfort or long-term pain. Their natural instinct means they are usually good at hiding their pain. Here are some things to look out for if you’re a cat owner.

#1 – A change in behavior

A change in your cat’s typical behavior can be an early sign of pain or long-term illness. You know your cat best, so it’s important to note any changes that seem out of character for your pet. For example, if your ordinarily cuddly cat is spending more time alone or stops sleeping with you overnight, it could signify something is wrong.

Another change in behavior that can signal pain is sudden aggressiveness. This might include hissing or growling when you or another family member get close to them or even scratching or biting. This can occur if they’re touched or moved in a way that hurts them. Your cat may also resent being combed or brushed.

#2 – Vocalizing

You might notice that your cat meows more than usual or that they are purring unusually or at times you least expect. As well as meowing and purring, you may also notice your cat hissing or growling when approached by other animals.

#3 – Change of habits

Being aware of your cat’s daily habits and looking for any changes can help identify any pain early. For example, if you notice your cat has less energy or endurance than usual, is restless, or can’t find a comfortable position. 

Trembling legs can be another sign and reluctance to climb stairs. Pain in the legs can also cause your cat to stop jumping up onto a couch or bed, and you may notice a limp. If you have surfaces that can be slippery, you might even notice your cat avoiding walking on these areas. 

#4 – Grooming changes

Cats who develop osteoarthritis stop grooming themselves. They may develop a messy hair coat, and it can often become matted over the painful areas of their body. Cats are usually meticulous with their cleaning habits, so if they stop or change their habits, it’s usually a sign that something is wrong. 

Alternatively, an increase in grooming can also signify that your cat is in pain. They may spend more time grooming areas of the skin that are causing them pain, sometimes to the point of causing wounds or even baldness. This can be their way of attempting to soothe the painful area.

#5 – A decreased appetite

If you notice your cat has lost interest in drinking or eating, it can be a sign of pain. A decreased appetite can also signify a serious medical problem, so it’s good to make an appointment with your vet.

#6 – Not using the litter box

If your cat stops using the litter box, there’s usually a reason why. Entering and exiting a litter box can be painful if your cat is experiencing any soreness in its hips, knees, elbows, or spine. They may also associate the litter box with other medical issues, for example, pain during urination, which means they stop using it altogether.

Similarly, pain can make the squatting position difficult, and often, cats can become constipated due to avoiding uncomfortable squatting. 

#7 – Abnormal posture or changes in facial expressions

There are specific things to look out for in your cat’s facial expressions or posture. For example, your cat may suddenly hunch over with its head lowered and curve its back higher than usual. Alternatively, they may look like they’re trying to curl themselves up into a tight ball or tuck their legs underneath themselves when lying down instead of stretching. 

If you notice any facial expressions out of the ordinary, get in touch with your vet. These might include squinting, flattening their ears, closing their eyes regularly, or their mouth, cheeks, or nose appearing more tense than usual. Some cat owners describe their cat as having a grimace or appearing to be staring off into space. 

#8 – Changes to sleep habits

Pain can mean changes to your cat’s sleep. This could mean sleeping in an unusual position or noticing changes in where they sleep. They may also sleep more than usual at different times of the day and look for warm spots to get some rest. Because cats don’t typically sleep on the floor, it can signify they are in pain if you notice your cat lying in lower places. 

What to do if your cat is in pain

The best thing to do is make an appointment with your vet as soon as you notice any signs of pain. Make sure you don’t give your cat any medications, particularly any designed for humans. Cats process drugs very differently from us, and human medicines can be fatal for cats.

The treatment for your cat will depend on the cause of the pain. Your vet will work with you to determine the cause and talk you through the best treatment options to resolve the issue and manage the pain. If your cat is prescribed meditation, be sure to monitor your cat’s response, and if you’ve got any concerns, get in touch with your vet. The animal care experts at TriStar Vet design and manufacture vet exam equipment, veterinary dog grooming equipment, and other innovative products for your vet clinic that are ergonomic, ultra-durable, and affordable.