Pain in Cats: What Specialists Look For

May 30, 2017
cat health

Deciding whether or not a cat is in pain can be a real challenge for caregivers and veterinarians. Cats retain many instincts of wild animals, including a tendency to hide signs of pain. This is a good strategy for a wild animal because a wild animal that appears painful or sick will likely be targeted by a predator.

Fortunately, people who live with the cat and are familiar with its normal behaviour can often recognize subtle signs that indicate that something is wrong, and bring these to the veterinarian’s attention. Here are a few examples:

  1. The owner reports that a previously housed-trained cat has started to avoid the litter box. The veterinarian will want to examine the cat’s joints for signs of osteoarthritis and palpate the bladder for signs of discomfort.
  2. The owner reports a new behaviour, such as crying at night. The veterinarian will want to check the cat for high blood pressure which is a common cause of night-time yowling.
  3. The owner notices that the cat is sleeping in a crouched, tucked up position rather than the normal curled up or sprawled out posture. This will prompt the veterinarian to carefully palpate the abdomen for signs of pain.

Often, if a painful condition is found and a pain-relieving drug is prescribed, the cat may have a better appetite and resume its normal behaviours. Once again, the people who live with the cat will be in the best position to observe this and report back to the veterinarian.

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