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  • Writer's pictureDr. Karin

My Cat is A Pain, I mean IN Pain

The two really can go together. A painful cat can become A pain. You may notice more grouchiness, wanting less interaction, petting or brushing, and hissing, scratching or trying to bite may be noted when this wasn’t normal behavior previously. Did you know that 40% of ALL cats have osteoarthritis pain? Or that over 90% of cats older than 12 years old have x-ray evidence of arthritis? It is important to know that a large majority of older cats have arthritis, a large majority of older cats are in pain, and we, as their people, are not good at recognizing it.

So how do you really monitor for chronic pain in your cat?

I get asked this question a lot, and it is usually quickly followed with, “He never cries,” “She is still eating and drinking fine,” or “He doesn’t limp or act painful.” Well, just like most things with cats, they are different! This is what sets them apart and keeps them unique, and thus, so endearing. But knowing when they are painful can be very difficult to recognize (because cats are sneaky, actually just very instinctive and don't want to become prey, so they hide pain), or you can just read the rest of this and find out how to crack the cat pain code.

What are the major behavioral signs of pain in cats?

  • Difficulty jumping up

  • Difficulty jumping down

  • Difficulty going up stairs

  • Difficulty going down stairs

  • Difficulty chasing mobile objects/playing with toys

  • Difficulty running

And you thought it was going to be limping, crying or not eating!! Not at all! Cats are very subtle and hide pain very well. In fact, they will still jump, use stairs, and play, but it is different. Ask yourself, is my cat jumping up on the same things she used to, without help, or is she showing any signs of the above? Before you answer..... this video to see how cats act when painful!

Other signs of cats in pain include:

  • urinating or defecating outside of the litter box

  • Hiding more

  • Increased or decreased grooming

Tools to monitor pain:

  1. Video your cat jumping up or down, going up or down stairs, or playing with a laser mouse or running. These can be helpful to show your veterinarian. The best place to monitor your cat's behavior is in the home where they are less stressed and acting more natural.

  2. Feline Grimace Scale -There's an app for that! You can download this app to monitor you cat's facial expression which is a validated tool for assessing pain levels in cats. Get more information and download the app here

I am hopeful that this information provides you with more knowledge and tools to look at your cat and their pain level differently. Give us a call for a consult if you determine your cat is showing signs of pain, and learn how we can help you improve their comfort. We want all kitties to be content and happy, not IN pain!

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