Cats aren’t the best communicators, to be sure – who knows what goes on in their furry little heads? – and this is especially true when it comes to enduring and broadcasting any pain they may be feeling.
Pet owners hate the idea that their fur babies might be hurting while they’re none the wiser, so it’s good to know what subtle signs are the most common indicators of hidden pain in cats.
When Does A Cat Feel Pain?
Older cats often get osteoarthritis, but can suffer from many other diseases and conditions that are just as common among aging humans.
Dental pain is another common complaint, frequently causing malnutrition, which can be its own kind of discomfort.
Top Signs Of Cat Pain
When a cat feels pain, though, they do their best to hide it. This, and many of their other seemingly strange behaviours, can be explained by the fact that in the wild, cats are predators, but not apex predators.
So as a result, not only are they often on the hunt for food, they’re also on the lookout for other animals who might see them as food.
As a result, it’s not a good idea for them to reveal any pain they might be in, so they spend a lot of time doing their best to hide it. But there are still some ways to tell.
Here we’ve assembled the top six ways that vets will quickly assess if there’s an issue that needs attention.
Depending on the combination of the below and severity of them, it can tell us how serious a case we’re dealing with, and it will also inform our intervention – we want to be sure we reduce their pain as well as we can to encourage healing.
1. Self Harm
Although it sounds ominous, pets will frequently lick, bite or sometimes scratch obsessively at an area of their body that is in pain.
If you notice an area that has less hair or looks to have an abrasion, this may be an instance of self-harm, and you should take your cat to the doctor to have it investigated before it gets infected.
2. A Change In Routine
A change in routine might look like a cat who grooms themselves far less; if cats are finding it difficult to contort themselves in order to clean themselves, it can result in a matted, dirty coat.
Most cats spend up to 5 hours per day grooming their coats, and it requires ongoing attention to keep neat – so this identifying factor can develop and let you know quite quickly that it’s time for the vet to have a look.
Another indicator is when cats suddenly stop using their litterboxes – this usually means it’s too difficult for them to climb or descend stairs to get to it, or they can no longer climb over the side of the box easily.
3. Facial Expressions
Although cats aren’t the most expressive at the best of times, if you notice they have dilated pupils, this can definitely be a sign of a physiological pain response.
4. Different Activity Level
An easy one for pet owners to notice, pets who stop jumping and leaping around usually have become more sedate because of some kind of joint or muscle pain.
On the other hand, if your cat seems more restless than usual, constantly getting up and lying down, this might also be an indicator for pain. This is because they may not be able to find a restful position comfortably, so it keeps them moving.
You’d expect a cat to cry if they’re in pain, but they don’t always – friendly and easygoing cats will often purr when they’re in pain or frightened.
Sometimes cats in pain will begin panting; this is a serious indicator that they should be taken into the vet as soon as possible.
However, if your normally-nice feline suddenly starts hissing, it definitely might be cause for further investigation, because they are wanting to be left alone for a reason.
Cats can also sustain damage in the big wide world – at least, if they’re outdoor cats.
Skirmishes with other animals or exploring in small places or areas under construction can cause cuts and bruises that you might not be able to see easily.
Even in the home, cats are renowned for getting into things they shouldn’t, or eating things that disagree with their internal organs.
If you have an inclination that something is off, you’re best to call your vet to get their expert advice.
Contact Bickford Park Animal Hospital
If your pet is exhibiting any of the following symptoms, give us a call at Bickford Park Animal Hospital.
Cats generally work hard to hide their pain, so if your cat is starting to show the above signs, it could mean they’re in quite a bit of pain.
Call us today, and we’ll help you find out how to get your furry friend feeling fine.
Bickford Park Animal Hospital is a veterinary clinic in Toronto, located across from Christie Pits park, committed to the highest level of caring and treatment for cats and dogs.