Animal Hospital News

Is Your Cat in Pain?

posted by Dr. Deb on March 17th, 2019 in Hospital Announcements

cat arthritis

Cats don’t tell us when they are uncomfortable or hurting.

They are stoic little creatures who don’t let us know when they’re not feeling 100%. This is a natural instinct left over from their ancestors who lived in the wild. If an ill cat in the wild let on that they were under the weather, their chances of becoming prey increased significantly.

So, how can a cat owner know when their kitty is ill? Well, it’s all about the subtle changes in behavior, attitude, and eating habits. Just the slightest change could be a sign that your cat is sick or in pain. Keep your eyes open for any of the following changes. If you see anything suspicious, contact your veterinarian immediately.

  • Decreased appetite or no interest in food
  • Withdrawn or hiding
  • Reduced movement or mobility, hesitation to climb steps or jump, “missing” jumps that used to be easy.
  • Diminished exercise tolerance and general activity
  • Difficulty getting up, standing, or walking
  • Decreased grooming (this is a BIG one! Don’t ignore it!)
  • Changes in urination or defecation habits
  • Squinting
  • Hunched or tucked-up position instead of relaxed when sleeping
  • Sensitivity or vocalization to petting or touch
  • Temperament or other substantial behavior changes for your cat

Categories of Pain

  • Acute pain

This type of pain occurs in conjunction with inflammation and healing after an injury and can last for up to 3 months.It can be caused by injury, trauma, surgery, and acute medical conditions and diseases.Acute pain generally begins suddenly and usually doesn’t last long.

  • Chronic pain

This is usually described as either pain that lasts beyond the normal healing time or pain that lasts in conditions where healing has not or will not occur.

Degenerative joint disease (DJD), also known as feline arthritis, is an extremely common, chronic, painful disease in cats, with as many as 92% of all cats showing some signs of this disease. It is also one of the most significant and under-diagnosed diseases in cats. We all assume older dogs will get some form of arthritis. SO DO CATS! The great news is, we can do something about it! You can have your TV couch snuggler back! See your vet! (See also: )

  • Persistent pain

Cats with persistent pain may need palliative care.

Palliative care is the all encompassing approach that provides cats, who have a disease that is not responsive to curative treatment, with a plan to provide an improved quality of life with pain control being the principal feature.

During regular check-ups your veterinarian talks with you about your cat and obtains a patient history. Regular check-ups should occur a minimum of once yearly, and more frequently for senior cats and those with chronic conditions. So, when you notice changes in how your cat is behaving, interacting, or his daily routine, contact your veterinarian.


Once a veterinary plan has been developed, you may be asked to monitor your cat at home. It is important that you receive verbal instructions, written instructions, and ask for a hands-on demonstration of how to administer medications and handle your cat at home.

When you are monitoring your cat at home, we recommend that you:

  • Use a notebook to record your observations.
  • Include any changes in behavior, activities, or routine even if they seem minor.
  • Schedule follow up appointments with your veterinarian to share your observations.
  • Alert your veterinary practice right away if there are changes, you have questions, or you notice early signs of adverse reactions.

Please remember – cats do not act out of spite ( It’s a waste of energy and beneath them! lol!) so any behavior change can be a sign of pain or another health problem. Being able to recognize and manage your cat’s pain can be as life preserving as any other veterinary medical treatment.

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