At some point, you've likely heard that cats don't show pain or illness. This is not far from the truth. They will hide it to protect themselves in the wild. Our vets in Columbia share the sometimes subtle signs of pain in cats and talk about when you should visit the vet and what can be done to help your feline friend.

How to Tell if a Cat is in Pain

While you can expect all cats to respond to pain differently, most cats will try to hide any pain or discomfort they are feeling.

Acute (sudden) pain may also be more noticeable while chronic (slow onset) pain is likely to be hidden or compensated for by your cat.

This means that you should always keep an eye on your cat for any signs that they are in pain or experiencing any other symptoms indicating a medical issue.

Signs That a Cat is in Pain

When cats are in pain you may notice 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

How a Cat's Body Language Can Point to Pain

Cats tend to exhibit changes in their body language when they are experiencing pain. These changes may be quite apparent at times, while at other times, they may be more subtle. Our veterinarians suggest that you keep a close eye on your cat's general behavior, posture, and movements so that any deviations from their usual behavior can be detected early on. 
Some common changes in a cat's body language that could indicate pain include:
  • Tense-looking body
  • Crouched or being hunched over
  • Head lowered

Signs of Pain in Your Cat's Face

While many cats show little or no change in their facial expression while experiencing pain, some cats are very expressive. If your cat is in pain, they might:

  • 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

Often signs of pain in cats are missed until the cat's condition is advanced. When it comes to your cat's long-term health, it's always best to err on this side of caution.

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

Cold Laser Therapy for Dogs & Cats

When treating painful inflammatory conditions in cats and dogs, our veterinarians at Maury County Veterinary Hospital offer non-invasive veterinary cold laser therapy.

A cold laser therapy treatment involves moving the handheld laser wand slowly back and forth over the damaged tissue, producing a warm, pleasant sensation that most pets find relaxing and enjoyable.

Veterinary cold laser therapy stimulates cell regeneration and increases circulation, which is beneficial in the treatment of conditions and surgical procedures such as wounds, bone fractures, strains and sprains, inflammation, osteoarthritis and more.

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 Columbia vets today to have your feline friend cared for.