Signs of pain in cats

Signs of pain in cats

Pain is an emotion that is not visible to those around you. Ofcourse, when it becomes serious and very painful, your body may give you away. Sometimes people would know as they can see your broken leg or the wound on the arm, but other times, it is not possible to know.

This is the case that is more like that of cats, you’d never know anything was wrong.

Cats are renowned for their ability to mask pain and discomfort. This is a great advantage when out in the wild around a predator, but it’s a big problem in a home when pet owners are unaware that their pet has a problem.

Veterinarians spend a lot of time in studying this behavior. With that understanding comes the knowledge that we are very likely undertreating pets for pain they are commonly experiencing. Arthritis, dental disease, urinary tract disease, bone disease, and cancer are just a few of the common feline medical conditions that are known to be painful.

Cats may not speak, but they do communicate their pain in their own ways. Yes, they do not speak and utter the literal words that they are hurting but they make sure they have expressed themselves with the way they behave.

Recognize the Signs of Cat Pain

Here are some of the most common behavioral signs that might be a symptom of a cat in pain:

Change in Activity Level

A change in activity level can indicate discomfort. Cats might become less active and sleep more hours than they earlier used to. Stiff, arthritic cats may be reluctant to change positions, or no longer jump onto high surfaces. An alternate result may also arise where they become more active, restless, repetitively getting up and down, and seeming to have difficulty getting comfortable.

Self Mutilation

While many people associate biting and licking with allergies, pets in pain often repetitively lick and bite at painful areas.


Some cats purr when they are frightened or hurting, and it does not always indicate contentment. This is particularly true for cats with an easygoing or gentle personality. Otherwise, the cat may just happen to growl and hiss, thus showing that something is wrong.

Change in Daily Routine

A cat whose appetite suddenly drops may be feeling too much pain to eat, or may be experiencing nausea from a disease process. A lap cat who suddenly can’t stand being held may be experiencing pain when they are touched or pet.


Cats with abdominal pain may have a hunched back, tucking in their abdomen in a protective posture. You may also notice a cat being protective of a certain area of their body, not wanting to be touched or scratched; they may also limp or hesitate to put weight on a sore limb.

Facial Expressions

Granted, facial expression can be difficult to gauge in a cat, but certain giveaways can indicate pain or discomfort. A vacant stare at nothing in particular, or a “glazed” expression is common. Cats in distress can also have dilated pupils—part of the stress response in the body. Unlike in dogs, cats do not normally pant. If you notice a panting cat, particularly when she is at rest, you should get her evaluated as soon as possible.

Poor Coat Condition

Cats are expert groomers, spending hours on maintaining their silky coats. But pain from arthritis can make it difficult to contort themselves into their normal grooming positions, and pain in general can make a cat too uncomfortable or worn out to maintain their normal routine. A cat who stops grooming and starts to look unkempt may be in pain and needs to be evaluated.

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