I’ve written before about signs of pain in pets. Today I’m writing specifically about cats and how they experience pain. The first important point is that yes, cats do feel pain. In fact, many of our older kitties are in chronic pain. The second point is that cats are exceedingly good at hiding their pain. This means your cat may be feeling pain, and you don’t even realize it.
Below you’ll find main behavioral categories and things you can watch for to judge if your cat is painful. Remember, the signs of pain can be subtle. We cannot assume just because our cats are still eating that everything is fine.
Is your cat eating more? Eating less?
Does your cat cry when having a BM or urinating? Is there a change in volume of either output? Does your cat have trouble getting in and out of the litter box?
Is your cat grooming excessively in one or more areas? Has your cat stopped grooming and developed matted fur?
Is your cat sleeping more? Does your cat have trouble getting comfortable and as a result is sleeping less?
Is your cat howling and yowling day and night? Has your previously talkative cat become quiet? Is your cat purring more or less? (Purring can occur in cats trying to comfort themselves).
Has your cat stopped wanting to play?
Interacting with humans and other animals:
Is your cat picking new fights with other cats in the household? Is your cat acting aggressive toward any humans? Is your cat hiding or not hanging out with the family anymore? Is your cat acting clingy? Is your cat acting cranky?
If you’ve noticed any of these changes in your cat, you should call your vet for an appointment. It’s true that certain medical conditions can cause some of these changes, and your vet may suggest running some tests to rule these things out. Although cats are sensitive to many medications, there are safe and effective pain control options available for cats. If your vet prescribes pain medication or other therapy such as laser or acupuncture for your cat, it’s important for you to observe how your cat’s behavior changes after starting treatment. Your observations are crucial for judging how well treatment is working and whether changes need to be made as time goes on.
One final tip to help you monitor your cat over time: post a recent photo of your cat on your fridge. In 6 months to a year, take a new photo and compare it to the last one. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. When we live with a cat day in, day out, we can easily overlook subtle changes.
Does anyone have a feline pain management success story to share? Please comment below!