Animal Hospital News

Cats in Pain- How you can tell

posted by Dr. Deb on August 24th, 2014 in Cats

Knee Arthritis

Knee Arthritis

The two most common causes of pain in cats are ARTHRITIS PAIN and DENTAL PAIN.

ARTHRITIS PAIN

Arthritis affects up to 70% of senior cats (as well as dogs), but most people don’t think about that.  Most people don’t believe that their cat is any pain at all.  Cats are so good at hiding their pain that it’s easy to make other excuses for their inactivity: “he’s never been very active”, “she’s always hidden under my bed– that’s where she feels safe since…(the new dog, my daughter moved away, etc)”, “he’s just getting old and slowing down.”  But, a careful observer will notice the tell tale signs that something is really amiss:

 

  • Sleeping more often/ longer
  • False starts while trying to jump up
  • “Misjudging” a jump
  • Decreased grooming/ poor coat condition
  • Weight loss/ dehydration (can’t get to food/ water)
  • Accidents around/ outside of the litterbox

Arthrtis in cats CAN and should be treated.  After all, we don’t tolerate debilitating pain for ourselves, why would we ignore in our life companion kitty cats?  Newer medications are safe and very helpful in giving cats back their mobility!

We recently gave a cat patient a series of Adequan injections: after the 6th injection, the owner reported that her kitty was jumping up on her lap like he used to years ago!  2 weeks later, she reported that he was now defending her lap from the other cat in the house like the “good old days” of his  youth!  He is also on oral medication that his owner hides in his food. He doesn’t even know that he’s being medicated!  It’s so amazing to see “old” cats find their inner kitten again!

Arthritis in cats is most reliably diagnosed with a combination of physical exam findings and radiographs.  Schedule your kitty’s Arthritis Screen exam as soon as possible, if he shows any of the above signs!  By the time she’s showing you signs like these, it’s already serious.

FORL radDENTAL PAIN

Recognizing dental pain in cats takes some careful observation, and knowing that what your seeing means something– pain:

  • Grinding Teeth
  • Lip smacking/ licking excessively
  • Decreased grooming/ poor coat
  • Eating less/ becoming finicky
  • Dropping food while eating
  • Tiny crumbies of food left over in the bowl*

* I just figured this one out recently when my own cat developed a bad tooth! Who knew?

Dental disease can be difficult to impossible to identify, even by a veterinarian, without sedation and dental radiographs as cats are prone to developing very painful lesions in their teeth under their gumlines called “”resorptive lesions”.  The place to start is a thorough physical exam by a veterinarian experienced in spotting the subtle signs of resorptive lesions when they  appear at the gumline and who has the ability to perform dental radiographs.

We all know what a painful tooth feels like!

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