How to Spot When Your Cat is in Pain

How to Spot When Your Cat is in Pain

by Neil Stanga - 5/23/19

Felines are famous for their ability to hide pain. But they can still display very subtle changes in their actions and vocal communication when they're feeling discomfort. Our cats depend on us to catch these subtle changes. It’s their way of telling us something isn't right. Recognizing what to keep an eye out for can make a big difference.

Every critter is unique in his or her ability to deal with pain. But remember, there are numerous ways your kitty may be showing you he's in distress.

Keep an Eye Out

In instances of more mild distress, your cat might be somewhat withdrawn from her normal environment, and you may begin to notice small changes in her ordinary daily schedule. While you can't exactly pinpoint what is the matter, you may sense that there's something different with your pet.

In the event that the pain becomes more acute, your cat may go off in search for somewhere isolated to rest. You may notice kitty's normally sparkling eyes turn dreary. Or you may notice your cat obsessively grooming the affected area.

You may also notice changes in your cat's breathing. Keep an eye out for quick, shallow breathing, and in serious cases, gasping.

Oral Pain in Cats

It is very common for cats to develop periodontal disease or other oral abnormalities. This can include resorptive lesions, gingivitis, infections, stomatitis, ulcerations, granulomas and other types of masses.

These ailments are typically very painful. A change in breath odor, decreased appetite and an increase in salivation are common signs of problems. Be on the lookout for these changes in character:

  • Avoiding chewing with one side of their mouth
  • Showing interest in food but a reluctance to eat
  • Pawing at the face. This is a hallmark sign that a cat is experiencing discomfort in the mouth and should be checked out

Signs of Bladder Pain in Cats

Disturbances in the urinary system may first be noticed by an increase in thirst, urinating outside the litter box, discoloration in the urine (cloudy or red tinged), an increase in visits to the litter box and dilated pupils. While these signs can be obvious, other less apparent symptoms are equally important to monitor for:

  • Excessive straining in the litter box with little to no urine production; you should consult your nearest emergency pet care provider if you notice this behavior
  • Tenderness in their belly; when the bladder is experiencing inflammation or obstruction, the abdomen is extremely sensitive to touch
  • Becoming progressively weaker and sluggish
  • Vomiting; some cats strain so hard that it can cause them to retch or vomit

Pain in cats can present itself differently depending on the underlying cause. Keeping some of these specific signs in mind may help you be more proactive. It’s important to remember that these changes may seem insignificant at first. If you are ever concerned that your cat may be sharing some of these signals with you, make an appointment with your veterinarian.

A graduate of Princeton University, Neil works on marketing at Scratchpay. He lives in Pasadena, California with his cat, Ovi.