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Signs of Pain in Cats & How to Help

Signs of Pain in Cats & How to Help

As owners of these elegant felines, it's crucial to understand their innate stoicism and independence. While these traits are admirable, they can also lead to a hidden struggle when it comes to pain. That's why our Marina del Rey veterinarians are here to shed light on the signs of discomfort in cats, so you can provide the necessary care and support they need.

How To Tell If a Cat is in Pain

As a feline companion, your cat may exhibit symptoms of discomfort differently from other cats. The manifestation of pain can be influenced by factors such as breed, age, and other relevant variables. 

In the case of a sudden injury, like a wounded paw, your cat is likely to show their distress by limping or howling while walking. On the other hand, chronic pain, such as gum disease or spinal issues, can be more challenging to detect. Your cat may retreat to a hidden spot in your home, as they may not know how to cope with or express their discomfort. 

Therefore, it is crucial for pet owners to observe their furry friend for any changes in behavior, energy levels, or eating habits, to ensure they are free from pain and discomfort. 

Signs of Pain in Cats

Cats in pain can exhibit a variety of symptoms, some of which include:

  • 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
  • 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

Ways That Your Cat's Posture & Body Language May Change if They Are in Pain

As pet owners, it's important to keep a close eye on our furry friends. Our veterinarians at Shane Veterinary Medical Center highly recommend monitoring your cat's overall demeanor, stance, and gait to detect any deviations from their normal behavior easily.

These changes, whether subtle or pronounced, can be a sign of discomfort or pain in cats. Stay alert for alterations in your cat's body language including:

  • Tensed body
  • Crouching or being hunched over
  • Lowering head

How Pain Could Be Expressed in Your Cat's Face

Cats are known for their stoic demeanor, and many exhibit little to no alteration in their facial expression during times of pain. However, some feline friends are highly expressive and may exhibit changes in their body language that indicate discomfort. If you suspect your cat is in pain, look out for the following signs:

  • 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 For a Cat In Pain

Cats can be masters at hiding their discomfort, which makes it all the more important for cat owners to stay vigilant. Don't let your cat's pain go unnoticed until it's too late.

Early intervention is key to ensuring your cat's well-being and comfort. If you suspect that your cat is in pain, don't hesitate to reach out to your veterinarian or an after-hours animal hospital. By taking proactive steps to manage your cat's pain, you can help to ensure that they enjoy a happy and healthy 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.

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Shane Veterinary Medical Center is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Marina del Rey companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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