Is Your Cat in Pain?

Awareness and Treatment for National Pet Pain Awareness Month

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As we discussed earlier in the month, pain stinks. There’s no way around it. At Deceased Pet Care we’re highlighting two of the most popular pets for National Pet Pain Awareness Month. This round, it’s cats. While there are some similarities with dogs, cats are special creatures that require individual care. So without FURther, here’s our quick take of identifying and caring for pain in your pet.

What is Pain?

Webster’s Dictionary defines pain as “physical discomfort or suffering caused by illness or injury.” While that definition is true of humans, in your pet, I think we can expand it to cover any feeling, injury, or illness that keeps your pet from operating at it’s full potential.

What are the Signs of Pain in my Cat?

Unlike with dogs, your cat’'s pain can be much harder to identify. Thankfully in early 2016, PLOS published an article titled “Behavioral Signs of Pain in Cats: An Expert Consensus.” This article is a pretty exhaustive collection of any potential signs of pain in your cat. Before we continue, it’s important to note that pain can vary in severity, and while each of these are signs of pain, one singular symptom is not enough to cause overt concern.

Eye Changes - The eyes are often a primary indicator that your cat is experiencing pain. Take note if your cat’s eyes appear irritated, overly watery, or bloodshot. You should also take note of the pupils. If they are dilated, your cat is probably experiencing pain in or around the eye. If your cat is squinting or they are constricted, your cat’s pain is probably elsewhere in the body.  

Hiding - Most cats are already fickle creatures. We know that they usually aren’t touched unless they want to be touched. That’s why if you cat is hiding more than the norm, or retreating from your touch or interaction with others, your cat could be in pain. Look for other signs listed here to make sure your cat is hurting, and not just experiencing a mood swing.

Lack of Grooming - Cats are clean, and usually very consistently. If your cat is neglecting their hygiene, there’s a good chance she’s experiencing some pain. We all know what it’s like to be sick. When we’re down, that five o’clock shadow, or perfect eyeliner is the last thing on our mind.

Verbal Signs - We’re not talking about purring and meowing. If your cat suddenly adopts growling or groaning something is probably wrong. Check your environment to ensure there is no threat or outside irritant, but if boots won’t stop bellowing some pretty negative sounds, you should consult your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Different Eating/Drinking Habits - Cats eat less than dogs. They also often eat on an irregular schedule. But if you find the food or water bowl untouched for hours and perhaps days on end, your cat could be in some serious pain. As we said, cats are also clean creatures, so if your bowls are dirty or unpleasant, that might also be the reason for such distance. Check all the signs before you start to worry.

Difficulty Moving - If your cat adopts an abnormal gait, limp, or is having difficulty getting around, he is probably pretty hurt. Just like us, if there is pain, we adjust to avoid experiencing that pain as much as possible. Take note of your cat’s movement to see if she sprained or broke a leg on her latest hunting excursion.

Other Signs Include - lameness, withdraw, playing less, overall decrease in activity, mood or temperament changes, hunched posture, shifting of weight, avoiding bright areas, straining to urinate, or tail twitching.

What can I do to help?

Unlike dogs, cat’s cannot take most pain medications. And they are not always receptive to care from their owners. If you think your pet is experiencing pain based on several of the indicators listed above, please seek professional medical care before attempting to help.

There are several alternative medical treatments for feline pain available, but any recommendations will have to be made by your trusted veterinarian.

We know seeing someone we love in pain is never easy. That’s why at Deceased Pet Care we wanted to put a spotlight on how to identify and care for pain in our pets. This National Pet Pain Awareness Month, be intentional about looking for signs of pain in your cat or dog. In our humble opinion, there’s no more purrrfect way to love your pet.