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Signs of Pain in Cats

Cats are notorious for hiding pain so it is important for pet owners to know the subtle signs that their companion isn't feeling their best. Today, our Fremont vets discuss the signs and symptoms of pain in cats and what you can do to help.

How to Tell if a Cat Is in Pain

The symptoms that indicate that a cat is in pain can vary depending not only on the cat's personality but also on the kind of pain that the cat is experiencing themselves.

Most cats will show obvious signs of acute pain if they have an accident or injury but 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 it is essential for pet parents to always keep a watchful eye for uncharacteristic behavior, personality changes, an unusual stride, or changes in appetite.

Signs That a Cat Is in Pain

In the event that your feline companion is experiencing discomfort, you might observe one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Frequent meowing or howling
  • Not using their litterbox
  • Tail flicking
  • Won't eat or reduced appetite
  • Poor grooming, scruffy looking
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive hiding
  • Limping
  • Avoiding being handled
  • Behavioral changes
  • Irritability
  • Uncharacteristic hissing/growling/spitting
  • Unusual vocalizations
  • Excessive grooming
  • Panting
  • Patchy fur

Signs of Pain in Your Cat's Posture & Body Language

Cats in pain will often display changes in body language. In some cases, the body language changes of a cat in pain will be very noticeable but often these changes are more subtle. Our vets recommend always monitoring your cat's overall demeanor, stance, and gait so that any changes from their normal will be easily spotted.

Among the changes in body language that are associated with pain in cats are:

  • Tense-looking body
  • Crouched or being hunched over
  • Head lowered

Pain Expressed on Your Cat's Face

In spite of the fact that the majority of cats exhibit little to no change in their facial expressions when they are in pain, there are some cats that are extremely expressive. If your cat is experiencing discomfort, they may:

  • 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

When cats are in pain, it is common for their symptoms to go unnoticed until the cat's condition has progressed. Always err on the side of caution when it comes to the long-term health of your cat. This is the best course of action.

If your feline friend is displaying signs of pain contact your vet right away to schedule an examination, or seek emergency veterinary care. To help preserve your cat's good quality of life pain management, and treatment of painful conditions early are essential.

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.

Are you concerned that your cat is showing signs of pain? Contact our Fremont vets today to have your feline friend cared for.

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Ace Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Fremont companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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