Yorba Regional
Animal Hospital

8290 E. Crystal Dr.
Anaheim, CA 92807

Phone : (714) 921-8700

Fax : (714) 283-1262

Appointments Available 7 Days A Week

Veterinarian Staffed for Emergencies 24 Hours Including Holidays.
Walk-ins & urgent care welcome. We offer evening and Sunday hours.
Appointments are encouraged for non-emergency visits.
Appointments offered until 8 pm on weekdays and 6 pm on weekends.


Signs Your Cat is in Pain

photo-1455970022149-a8f26b6902ddMost cat owners already know how good felines are at hiding their pain.  Seeing signs of cat pain takes detailed observation. Because cats are by nature hunters, hiding pain illness or injury is part of their survival tactic. Cats will also hide and keep to themselves when not feeling well. This is easily misinterpreted because of a cat's already aloof nature.  To be sure your cat is receiving the care that's needed, knowing the signs of cat pain is critical.

It is very common to be undertreating pets for pain they are experiencing. If your pet has arthritis, dental disease, urinary tract disease, bone disease, cancer or any condition that is known to be painful, a pain management plan should be part of the treatment and pain should be assumed.


Signs of Cat Pain

Change in Activity Level

Activity level changes could mean your cat is experiencing discomfort. When in pain, cats may be less active and sleep more. Arthritic cats may look stiff and reluctant to change positions or avoid jumping on higher surfaces. Conversely, the opposite may also show discomfort or pain such as increased activity, restlessness, constant getting up or down or difficulty getting comfortable.


Self Mutilation

Pets will constantly lick or bite areas experiencing pain. This often causes an infection or hair-loss.



Hissing and growling are common signs of an unhappy cat, but meowing and purring can sometimes also be signs of pain. This can be particularly true for cats with a more docile personality.


Change in Daily Routine

Changes in appetite can also be signs your cat is in pain. A cat that loses their appetite may be feeling too much pain to eat or experiencing nausea from a disease. Cats that suddenly begin soiling the house after perfect use of a litterbox for years may also be an indication that using the litterbox might be too painful to get in and out of. A cat that usually loves being held and suddenly does not like being touched or pet could also be signs of pain.  A lap cat who suddenly can’t stand being held may be experiencing pain when they are touched or pet. Any of these changes in their usual personality and preferences may be signs your cat is in pain.



Further signs of pain in cats may come from their physical posture. Many times, cats in pain will have a glazed look or vacant stare as well as dilated pupils. Dilated pupils are a stress response from the body. If a cat is panting, have your cat evaluated by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Panting is not natural for a cat as it is for dogs and could be signs your cat is in pain.

Cats also shuffle like an elderly person when they're stiff. They will walk lightly and gingerly to avoid large actions. Cats with abdominal pain may hunch their back protecting the area that is in pain. if your cat is being protective of a certain area of the body such as not wanting to be touched, limping or avoiding to put weight on a sore limb, these are all signs of pain.



Some cats are naturally more moody for their lifetime. But, if your normally friendly cat becomes consistently more aggressive such as hissing biting or swatting, the increased aggression can be signs your cat is in pain. A cat in pain most likely will want to be left alone and will show aggression.


Poor Coat Condition

Cats that stop grooming themselves may be in pain from arthritis and having trouble bending their body in suitable positions for grooming. This results in a cat looking unkempt.  If your cat has stopped or decreased grooming and looks unkempt, it may be from pain and should be checked by a vet.


Additional Signs to Look For

Additional signs of cats in pain were released by The University of Lincoln in the United Kingdom suggests that most pain in cats is observable through their behavior.1 Signs of feline pain are primarily behavior-related

The researcher surveyed 19 veterinary experts across the globe in a variety of disciplines and evaluated pain-related behavior in cats based on chronic conditions, behavior as an indicator of pain, the likelihood of behavior would be present in a cat having low level pain and the likelihood of behavior would be present in a cat having high level pain.

Based on survey results, the researchers identified 25 signs considered sufficient signs your cat is in pain. However, no single sign of the 25 was considered necessary for a cat to actually be in pain.

25 Signs Your Cat is in Pain

LamenessHunched-up posture
Difficulty jumpingShifting of weight
Abnormal gaitLicking a particular body region
Reluctance to moveLower head posture
Reaction to palpationBlepharospasm (eyelid contraction)
Withdrawn or hidingChange in form of feeding behavior
Absence of groomingAvoiding bright areas
Playing lessGrowling
Appetite decreaseGroaning
Overall activity decreaseEyes closed
Less rubbing toward peopleStraining to urinate
General moodTail flicking

Cat Showing Signs of Pain

Pain treatment plans should be prescribed by your veterinarian after a thorough exam if your pet is in pain.  Sometimes the pain is a symptom of a condition or disease that needs immediate attention. For example, if pain is resulting from an infection, the infection should be resolved thus resolving the pain. However, if your feline is suffering from a chronic condition like arthritis, they may need a long-term pain treatment plan consisting of pain relievers.

There are also alternative treatments such as:

Some supplements may help with cartilage repair and joint movement such as glucosamine sulfate, MSM and egg shell membrane. Homeopathics may include Rhus Tox, Arnica, ubuquinol, turmeric, spirulina and astaxanthin and natural anti-anflammatory formulas, EFAC complex and krill oil.  As with all medicines and treatments, consult with your primary veterinarian before deciding what to administer for your cat's pain.

Exercise Keeps Cats Pain Free

Your cat will have a less painful time aging if they're slim and regularly exercising. Daily exercise can promote a cat's muscle strength, joint flexibility and overall health.

DVM360 recommends these exercises:

• Chasing exercises for 5-15 minutes a day. This exercise can be spread throughout the day. It's suggested to work up to a 15-minute exercise session every evening. Try feathers on a stick or a laser pointer, anything that a cat can run around and chase will work.

• Put your cat's food in different places around the home or hard to reach places for your cat to find. This will require your cat to use mental and physical skills to get their food. Starting with one extra bowl works for beginners just getting used to the idea of hunting for food.

Keep toys available to encourage your cat to play.

Have a cat tree or something your cat can climb to strengthen its muscles.

Use treats sparingly, or condition your cat to jump up or down for them.

Is your cat in pain? If you see signs of pain in your cat, contact your veterinarian to have your pet evaluated and discuss the best treatment options.









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