Cats are masters at disguising when they are sick or hurt. Do you know the signs of pain in cats? Dr. Anna Coffin reveals some subtle signs that you might not recognize as signs of pain in cats.
Cats don’t show signs of pain as other species do, which makes it more difficult to recognize and treat. The best way to identify signs of pain in cats is to look for changes in a cat’s behavior.[Tweet “The best way to identify signs of pain in cats is to look for changes in a cat’s behavior.”]
Changes in normal behaviors associated with signs of pain in cats:
1. Appetite: Any change of appetite in a cat is a signal that something is wrong. Usually with signs of pain in cats you will see a decrease in appetite.
2. Urination/Defecation: Vocalization during elimination, increase or decrease volume, changes in ability to get in and out of the litter box, elimination outside the litter box, changes in how stool or urine is passed
3. Grooming: Over grooming in one or more areas, not grooming, matted fur
4. Sleep: Sleeping more, unable to get comfortable and sleeping less, restless
5. Activity: Depending on the problem you may see decreased or increased activity
6. Vocalization: Excessive vocalization, not vocalizing for food or treats, increase or decrease in purring
7. Play: Decreased
8. Interactions with people or other pets: Aggressive to other pets and people, withdrawn or hiding, clingy, more cranky
9. Gait: Arthritis is extremely common, but it is rare to see a cat limp so watch for hesitation when a cat jumps up or down and stiffness upon wakening.
Just because a cat doesn’t express pain, doesn’t mean that the cat isn’t painful. If you see any of these changes in behavior it may be signs of pain in cats. If you think your cat is in pain, ask your veterinarian for a prescription of pain medication. A positive response to the medication is an important part of pain assessment in cats.
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Dr. Anna was born and raised in Guthrie, Oklahoma. As a teenager, Dr. Anna found her beloved pet dead on the side of the road left to die without any help. That was the moment she decided to become a vet and vowed to help other people and their pets. After a few years of practicing in New Hampshire, Dr. Anna became homesick and decided to return to Guthrie to be with her parents and five other siblings. Family and friends are a major part of our lives which is why we treat our clients at Guthrie Pet Hospital as family. Dr. Anna and her husband do not have children but are very proud pet parents and therefore, treat every four legged friend as part of the family.