How to Tell if Your Cat is in Pain

September is Pain Management Awareness Month! Read on!

Cats often disguise the fact they are in pain. That may be because in the wild, cats that appear sick or injured are vulnerable to predators.

Cat pain can be caused by such things as arthritis, dental problems, urinary tract infections, bone disease and cancer. Pain is also common following a surgical procedure.

You are in the best position to look for the subtle changes in behavior that may indicate your cat is suffering. It’s important to stay alert, because the sooner your cat’s pain is diagnosed and treated, the sooner he or she can heal and resume a normal, happy life.

If your cat exhibits one or more of these behaviors and you suspect it may be due to pain, notify us immediately.


Daily Habits:
Withdraws from social interaction
Decreased appetite
Changes in sleeping or drinking
Fails to use the litter box
Urinates frequently
Won’t groom or grooms less, looks unkempt
Sleeps more

Scratching a particular part of its body

Activity Level:
Reluctant to move
Has difficulty getting up from a laying position
Repetitively gets up and lies down
Trembles or shakes
Can’t leap as high
Seeks more affection
Avoids being petted or handled

Facial Expression:
Grimaces, furrowed brow, vacant stare
Glazed, wide-eyed or looks sleepy
Enlarged pupils
Flattened ears
Pants when at rest

Coat lacks normal shine
Hair stands up in places

Protects a part of its body
Doesn’t put weight on a limb
Doesn’t want to be held or picked up

especially a previously friendly cat
Acts out of character
Growls, hisses, bites
Pins ears back

Generally lays with feet underneath
Arches back or tucks in abdomen

Don’t Treat Your Cat’s Pain by Yourself!

Never administer pain medications to a pet without consulting your veterinarian. Many human pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, are poisonous and can be fatal to cats.

Different types of pain require different types of treatment. After diagnosing the problem, your AAHA veterinarian will explain the benefits, risks and costs associated with each option. That way, you and your veterinarian can choose the treatment plan that best meets the needs of you and your cat.

Whenever you have a question or concern about your cat’s health, please call us!

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