Cats are very stoic and it’s easy for cat parents to miss signs of pain or discomfort. For an animal, it’s also important for survival to not display signs of physical weakness, if at all possible.
When you are in pain, the doctor or nurse will ask you to rate your pain on a scale of 1-10. With children, they may use the self-assessment scale that has different facial expressions to help a child better communicate the level of pain. Being able to quickly identify how bad the pain is and where it’s located, aids in diagnosis and in relieving the suffering. Your cat can’t communicate to you and verbally describe the location and level of pain. Your cat can’t even point to the spot on his body the way a young child could. It’s important for you to pay attention to physical signs as well as changes in behavior, personality or routine that could possibly be a red flag. If you suspect your cat is in pain, please don’t hesitate to get him to the veterinarian.
Here are 10 signs that your cat may be in pain. This is not an all-inclusive list but just a way to get you started on being more observant.
1.Increased Vocalization or Change in the Sound of Vocalization
Your cat may normally be vocal but you may now notice an increase in vocalization or changes to the tone or intensity of his meows. They may now sound more like crying or they may be more frequent. Don’t ignore changes in vocalization and just label your cat as becoming whiny.
2.Licking a Particular Area of the Body
Cats are famous for how much they groom, but if you notice your cat is focusing on a particular area of the body it could be his attempt at relieving pain in that one spot. You might not notice the actual grooming but you may see less fur in that spot or even a bald patch. The increased grooming may cause your cat to have hairballs as well so pay attention to any increase there as well.
3.Change in the Appearance of the Eyes
You might see the appearance of the nictitating membrane. This is a thin film that may cover the eye or may just be partially visible. With pain, the cat may begin squinting or start keeping eyes closed totally.
4.Hiding and Withdrawal From Family
If you notice your cat becoming more withdrawn or hiding more, it could be an indication of pain. If your cat is normally very social, an increase in hiding is easier to spot but if your cat is timid and tends to hide, it can be much more difficult. Your cat may normally be very affectionate and now you’ve noticed he doesn’t want to be on your lap or he doesn’t do much facial rubbing. The cat may now prefer staying in darkened rooms.
5.Panting or Open Mouth Breathing
This is not a normal way of breathing so don’t ignore this physical sign.