How to Tell if Your Cat is in Pain
Updated: Sep 15
Cats are very good at hiding their pain. Even more so than dogs! Because they are solitary animals without a pack, they need to hide their pain and injuries to avoid becoming a target for a predator.
Even if a feline is as pampered as the one pictured here, ancestral DNA is a hard thing to overcome. Unfortunately, this means that the potential is high for your cat to be in pain without you knowing it!
However, there are some things to look for that will tell you if your cat is in distress.
1. Mobility Changes: These are the easiest to notice: Limping, not weight-bearing on a leg, resisting stairs or avoiding jumping on or off furniture are some obvious signs. Subtler signs include moving less and sleeping more (is it possible?).
2. Hiding: Where'd she go? Cats are very good at hiding even when they're well. Whose heart hasn't started racing thinking the cat has escaped, only to find Fluffy in a drawer or closet? However, hiding all the time and only coming out to eat or when no one's around, is a telltale sign that something might be wrong.
3. Changes in Bathroom Habits: Your cat can miss the litter for a few reasons, like a UTI or because they're angry at you, but another reason could be back pain or joint discomfort. They might not be able to get INTO the box like they used to.
4. Biting/Scratching: A cat that doesn't normally bite may react if you touch or move an area that's hurting.
5. Purring: Did you know that purring can increase when your cat is in pain or distress? Excessive purring on its own shouldn't be a concern but pay attention when it's combined with other signs/symptoms on this list.
6. Eye Changes: Excessive dilation of the pupil can occur when a cat is in pain.
7. Grooming Changes: When I worked at a vet clinic during university, the doctor used to say that a cat is feeling better when they start to bathe themselves. The converse is also true. Cats who are sick or have generalized pain will usually stop grooming.
These are some of the signs to look for.
So what do you do if you suspect your cat is in pain? First, it's important to get her checked out by the veterinarian to make sure it's nothing serious. If it isn't, but the symptoms are not going away, call an animal chiropractor. We'll examine your cat and find out if there's anything chiropractic can do to help.
Misalignments in the neck can cause a head tilt. Imbalances in the pelvis or shoulder blade can cause mobility issues or back pain. Sometimes the reason for a problem with eating or drinking can be helped by a gentle chiropractic adjustment to the jaw!
Don't forget that Dog N' Cat Chiro provides a mobile service. We can treat your cat in the comfort of his own home to reduce his stress as much as possible.