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Signs of Pain in Cats

Understanding when your cat is uncomfortable or unwell is crucial for their care and well-being. Today, our San Diego veterinarians will discuss some signs of pain in cats, what to observe, and when to seek veterinary care.

How can you tell if your cat is in pain?

The signs that a cat is in pain vary depending on the cat's personality and the type of pain they are experiencing.

While most cats will show obvious signs of acute pain if they have an accident or injury, 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, pet parents must always be on the lookout for uncharacteristic behavior, personality changes, an unusual stride, or changes in appetite.

The Typical Signs of Pain in Cats

If your kitty is experiencing pain, you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Frequent or ongoing meowing or howling
  • Litter box accidents, urinating outside of their litterbox
  • 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

If you suspect your cat is in pain, it's essential to consult with your veterinarian for a thorough evaluation and appropriate management. Your veterinarian can help identify the underlying cause of your cat's pain and develop a tailored treatment plan to alleviate discomfort and improve your cat's quality of life.

Some Ways That Cats Show Pain Through Their 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 visit your vet?

The signs of pain in cats are often overlooked until the cat's condition has advanced. When it comes to your cat's long-term health, it's always best to be cautious.

If your cat shows signs of pain, contact your vet immediately to schedule an examination or seek emergency veterinary care. Early pain management and treatment of painful conditions are essential to help preserve your cat's good quality of life.

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 you are worried that your cat may be experiencing pain, please get in touch with our San Diego vets right away for an examination.

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