Signs That Your Cat is Experiencing Pain

Cat laying in bed

Is Your Cat Suffering From Pain?

Hiding pain is one of your cat's natural instincts. In fact, displaying pain or weakness makes cats an attractive target for predators in the wild. Although dangerous predators don't lurk in your home, those instincts still surface when your favorite feline is suffering. Luckily, a few tell-tale signs can help you determine if your pet is hurt or sick. Your cat may exhibit one or more of these behaviors if it's in pain.

Frequent Meowing

Your cat can't tell you where it hurts but can communicate with you by vocalizing. If your pet meows more often than normal, pain may be the reason. Cats in pain may also hiss or growl, particularly if you happen to touch a painful area. Purring doesn't always mean that your cat is happy. In fact, purring can also occur if your pet is in pain or stressed.

Breathing Changes

Has a sharp pain ever taken your breath away or changed your breathing pattern? Your cat may react the same way. Rapid breathing or panting are signs that something isn't quite right with your pet.

Hiding Out

If your pet is spending most of its time under a bed or in another out-of-the-way place, pain may be the reason. When that natural instinct kicks in, pets automatically look for a safe, secure hiding place. In addition to providing protection from predators, hiding spots also prevent curious children or concerned family members from bothering your pet.

Trouble Moving

Your cat may have problems jumping, walking, or struggling to stand if it's in pain. Limping, shaking, and restlessness could also mean that something hurts. You may notice that your cat can't seem to find a comfortable position, avoids putting all of its weight on an injured limb, or does not want to be held.

Behavioral Changes

A normally friendly cat may become irritable or aggressive due to pain. Other cats may not hide but might actually want to spend more time with you if they are in pain. Any of these changes in your cat's behavior could be caused by pain:

  • Poor appetite
  • Drooling
  • Weight loss
  • No interest in grooming (matted fur and a messy coat can be signs of grooming issues)
  • Urinating or defecating outside the litter box
  • Sleeping more or less than normal
  • Lack of interest in spending time with family members
  • Biting or licking part of the body
  • Disinterest in playing

Physical Changes

Your poor pet may grimace when a bout of pain strikes or walk a little differently. You may notice glazed eyes, large pupils, frequent blinking, or tail flicking. A cat in pain may look hunched and keep its feet tucked under its body.

Common Causes of Pain in Cats

Pain can occur for many reasons. Your cat could have been hurt after a fall down the steps or when playing with another pet. Does your pet spend time outdoors? Poisoning, an attack from a wild animal, or a car accident could be the reason your pet's behavior has changed.

A health disease or condition could also be the source of the pain. Common conditions that cause pain include:

  • Toothache
  • Stomatitis (inflammation of the mouth)
  • Cancer
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Urinary tract blockage
  • Bladder stone
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Kidney failure
  • Abscess
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Nerve damage
  • Ear infection
  • Eye infection or condition
  • Digestive problems
  • Orthopedic (bone) disorders
  • Ingrown nails

Arthritis, a degenerative joint disease, is a common cause of pain for older cats. Pain and difficulty jumping or walking can be signs of arthritis. The disease often affects the elbow, ankle, knee, or hip joints in cats, according to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.

Even subtle changes in your cat's behavior may mean that your furry friend is struggling with pain. If you've noticed any of these behaviors in your pet, give our office a call as soon as possible. We can offer treatments that will ease your pet's pain and improve its comfort.

Sources:

American Animal Hospital Association: How to Tell if Your Cat Is in Pain

Hill’s: Is Your Cat Hiding Her Pain? Recognizing the Signs & Symptoms, 7/11/16

International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management: Common Signs of Pain in Dogs and Cats

dvm360: Feline Chronic Pain, 1/8/19

American College of Veterinary Surgeons: Osteoarthritis in Cats

Call to schedule your pet's wellness or urgent care exam now: (952) 758-6722

Testimonials

  • We have been clients of New Prague Animal Care for over 13 years. They have provided exceptional and compassionate care for our “pack” (6 dogs and 3 cats). As a professional dog trainer, breeder of Best in Show and Master Hunter Retrievers as well an owner of multiple kennel/ doggy daycare facilities (30+ years), I have worked with numerous veterinary clinics both in the Twin Cities and nationwide. Dr. Steve and his crew rate among the finest I have worked with. The clinic has all of the fea

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  • My dad has taken all of his dogs there for years, and I take mine there as well. Dr. Lavalle's bedside manner is amazing, and his staff are so genuine and caring. I always have, and will continue referring people to take their pets here. They are hands down the best veterinary care in the area!

    - Amber C
  • Have taken our dogs to Dr. Lavallee for over 10 years and he is great with each of them. He and his staff are very caring and helpful.

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  • Middle of a snow storm a few days ago. My little puppy was injured. I live in Faribult. Vet offices were closed in town. They actually called me while in route to see if I was ok. They were so good with the puppy. The cost was very reasonable. Called today to see how everything was going. I really was very impressed with this office. I recommend this place.

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  • Awesome experience! My pets love the care they get from Dr. Lavallee and his staff! They are not just a number; they care for them like my babies are family! Would highly recommend them!

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  • Found a 6-wk old kitten on the side of the highway and brought it in at 7pm on emergency basis. I was blown away by the compassion of Dr. Johnson's team. What a great experience. True animal people!

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  • Moved to New Prague and found this place for our dog.. Such great service, friendly staff, amazing Dr. and very accommodating to all of our needs!! Highly recommended by my pet family!!!

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  • We love New Prague Animal Care, they are always so kind and caring, from the phone calls to when you walk in. We take our Siberian Husky Bandit in and he gets so much attention, well loved. We've had to take him in twice for emergencies, the in house testing was great, Dr. Johnson was able to resolve the issue almost immediately. I wouldn't take him anywhere else.

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