Signs of Pain in Cats

Cats are renowned for their ability to mask pain and discomfort. This is a great advantage when out in the wild around a predator, but it’s a big problem for pet owners, who are unaware that their pet has a problem.

Arthritis, dental disease,urinary tract disease, bone disease, and cancer are just a few of the common feline medical conditions that are known to be painful.

Although cats can’t come up to us and say, “I’m hurting,” cats do exhibit behavioural changes that can indicate they are experiencing pain. Some of these include:


Difficulty moving/ change in activity level.

A change in activity level can indicate discomfort. Cats displaying lameness, trouble jumping or a reluctance to move might be in pain.

Cats might become less active and sleep more hours than they used to. Stiff, arthritic cats may be reluctant to change positions,or no longer jump onto high surfaces.

Cats could also show restless behaviour, repetitively getting up and down, and seeming to have difficulty getting comfortable.


Change in litter box habits

Cats that are straining to urinate might have a urinary tract infection, kidney stones or other obstruction. All can be very painful.

Cats that are straining to defecate, may have constipation, which can cause them a lot of pain.

Cats who have an abrupt onset of soiling in the house after years of using the litter box may be too painful to get in and out of a box with high sides, or too sore to get to where the box is located.


Unusual behaviour

Any change in mood, temperament or behaviour towards people could be a sign that something is wrong. While many people associate biting and licking with allergies, pets in pain often repetitively lick and bite at painful areas. They may do it so often that they cause secondary trauma to their body in the form of skin infections and hair loss.

Also, the absence of grooming or focused grooming of a specific area can be a sign of pain.

A reduced appetite may also be a sign of discomfort and a lap cat who suddenly can’t stand being held anymore, may be experiencing pain when touched.


Poor coat condition

Cats are expert groomers,spending up to five hours a day on maintaining their silky coats. However, pain from arthritis can make it difficult to contort themselves into their normal grooming positions, and pain in general can make a cat too uncomfortable or worn out to maintain their normal routine.

A cat who stops grooming and starts to look unkempt may be in pain and needs to be checked out.


Increased vocalisation

A cat in pain may groan or growl. But did you know that some cats purr when they are frightened or hurting? This is particularly true for cats with an easy-going or gentle personality.

Source: PetMD


If you think your cat may be in pain, it is important to get a diagnosis from your Vet first. If a painful medical condition is diagnosed, pain management is usually part of the treatment.

Bowen Therapy and Homeopathy may be able to support a pet with painful health issues. Feel free to contact me if you want to discuss.


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The information contained in this website is not intended to replace guidance from your veterinarian. Bowen Therapy and Homeopathy are complementary to veterinary treatment and the general care of the animal.