How to Tell if Your Cat is in Pain?

Cats are known to be natural healers. You will be surprised that cats are very good at treating themselves especially if the injuries are only minor. One minute they are limping and the next thing you know, they are already running around like crazy - Everyone wants to raise a loving, friendly cat.

But this natural healing ability does not always work on all injuries. There are some ailments that cats can heal on their own. And as their human companions, it is our responsibility to watch closely over them for signs of pain, so that we can immediately bring them to the vet or so that we may be able to seek professional help right away.

Cat Changes to Monitor

Physical Changes

  • Eyes – You will learn a lot just by looking at your cat’s eyes. When you suspect that your cat may be feeling some pain, check out your cat’s pupils. Very much like humans, the pupils are very good indicators of feeling. In this case, your cat’s pupil may tell you if there is a possible pain in the eye itself or somewhere in its tiny body.
  • Eyes Dilated – Meaning they are larger than usual, then there is a possibility that your cat is feeling pain somewhere in its body. Cat’s eyes may also become dilated or constricted – depending on the illness that may be present in its eyes (if the problem is in your cat’s eyes).
  • Bloodshot Eyes – As they may also indicate pain that your cat may be feeling. 

    If you see any of these signs, do not panic just yet. The best thing to do is observe your cat further and see if other indicators will coincide with this one.
  • Bodyshape – When it comes to humans, we recognize that something might be wrong with us if we find any abnormality (in shape, appearance, texture, temperature, etc.,) in our body. These temporary abnormalities are physical manifestations of something wrong on the inside or maybe on the surface of our body.

    The same goes with cats, watch out for any form of visible swelling in your cat's face, limbs, and body. Look out for deformations, limping, bent joint, an unusual position in eating, sitting, lying down, etc., because these will tell you that your cat may be feeling some pain.

Behavioral Changes

  • Scratching – If your cat is suddenly easily irritated, doesn’t want to be touched (even by you, as an owner) then maybe your cat is feeling some pain. Cats in pain feel threatened because they feel they are weak at the moment; therefore resulting to a very defensive stance: excessive biting and scratching.
  • Biting – If you unknowingly touch the area that is the source of their pain then your cat may immediately bite you or scratch you. This then will tell you where the area of concern is. Your cat will also eagerly protect the injured area, so even if you haven't even laid a finger on the injured area your cat might not even let you near it thus scratching or biting you in anticipation.
  • Loud Purring – If you’ve read our blog post before about “10 signs your cats love you” you will probably notice that there includes purring as one of the signs that your cat has some great affection for you.

    But see, a cat’s purring may also mean other things, especially if your cat looks in distraught as he/she is purring; or his/her purring is unusually and alarmingly loud. This may be your cat telling you that something is hurting somewhere in their body.
  • Change in Diet – Cats who are feeling sick may significantly have lesser appetite than usual. They may not be able to eat as much or drink as much. This is very noticeable especially if your cat is a big eater.
  • Frequency of Grooming – Just like a significant change in your cat’s diet, a change in the frequency of your cat’s grooming can also be an indicator. Your cat may significantly groom itself lesser than usual because it may be feeling lethargic and pain all over. It can also be that your cat may be grooming itself more than usual because there’s a wound or abrasion in its skin and the licking helps in alleviating the pain.
  • Activity – Observe your cat if he/she is extra “lazy” today. If your cat does not move around like he/she used to, then maybe there’s a problem. If your cat is not as energetic and playful, he/she may be feeling some pain if he/she moves around.

    Cats have a tendency to sleep off the pain or hide from everyone else when they are in pain. Watch out for this kind of behavior, it may mean the feeling of pain for your cats.
  • Litter – If your cat is potty trained, you will be surprised to see him/her veer away from his/her litter box and excrete waste outside of the litter box. There are many underlying reasons that may cause this change in behavior, all pointing to the pain that your cat may be feeling.

    Your cat may be feeling the pain around the back and is having a hard time achieving the posture needed to excrete waste the right way. Broken bones may lead to your cat struggling to get up the litter box, etc., A behavioral change like this is in need of immediate attention and observation. Or maybe you have a small litter box, and your need a litter box for larder cats.

Body Functions

  • Breathing Pattern – Breathing patterns can indicate if your cat is in pain. If your cat breathes a lot faster than usual, or your cat is struggling to breathe, then there might be a problem that you should attend to.

    Watch over your cat’s torso area to recognize any significant change in your cat’s breathing pattern. It is not that difficult to discern if there is an abnormality in the way that your cat breathes.
  • Heart Rates and Pulse Rates – Bodily functions such as heart rates and pulse rates can also become indicative of your cat’s wellbeing and health. Although looking at your cat's heart rate and pulse rate may require some skills you have to learn, it will be really helpful if you know how to get your cat's heart rate and pulse rate.

    What you can do is go to your local veterinary and ask them to teach you how to get your pet’s heart rate and pulse rate.

Pain, Pain Go Away!

There is so much that we can do for our cats. Paying attention to their needs especially if they are feeling quite unwell is very important. As responsible human companions, we should take the time to get to know our cats. Knowing our cats and spending time with them is the best way to be able to easily detect the things mentioned above.

Acting fast is the key, if we notice something unusual with our feline companion, then we should really take things seriously and find out any problems that your cat may be encountering and may be even trying to communicate with you.

Deciding to get a cat entails responsibilities, we should do our part.

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