How To Tell If Your Cat Is In Pain And What To Do

If your cat’s in pain, you may miss all the signs if you don’t know what to look for. Kitties don’t typically display pain as overtly as other animals might. They don’t yowl if they feel sick; in fact, they might even try to hide their pain until they’re seriously ill.

How do you know that your cat’s in pain and it’s time to take her to the vet? Here are a few signs that can help you interpret your cat’s actions.

Peeing Outside the Litter Box

If your cat is litter trained and all of a sudden starts missing her litter box, this could be a sign that something’s wrong. CatTime addressed in a previous article that a kitty who goes right outside the litter box might actually have an undiagnosed case of hip dysplasia. More commonly, cats with UTIs frequently end up going outside the litter box or even on their owner’s favorite furniture or clothing. They do this because they’ve associated the litter box with pain and they’re trying to get your attention to the fact that something’s wrong. If you suspect a urinary tract infection, you should take your cat to the vet right away. UTIs in male cats can be fatal.

Excessive Licking or Grooming

A cat with an injured or arthritic limb may begin licking and grooming the injured part excessively. Allergies can also cause cats to over-groom. If you notice your cat paying too much attention to one part of her body, such as a leg, that may indicate a problem. If she’s limping in addition to this, you should probably take her to a vet and get her checked out.

Lack of Appetite

Cats who are sick may lose their interest in food and treats. If your cat has stopped eating or just barely picks at his food, something could be seriously wrong. The situation may be even worse if your cat has lost interest in drinking, since dehydration can be a serious concern. If your cat’s not drinking enough but is still eating, feed her wet food to try to get some liquid back into her diet. Then take her to the vet. A diminished appetite or a lessened desire for water can indicate a big problem. Remember, though, that there are always exceptions to the rule. Although sick cats might lose interest in water, cats that are developing diabetes will start drinking water excessively.

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Activity Diminishes

A kitty in pain may not cry out, but she may start pulling back from being social and playful. She may hide in corners for more than just sleeping. She may stop jumping on desks to sit on your computer or stop climbing on her favorite cat tree. And although one of the signs could be excessive grooming, a cat in pain may also stop grooming altogether if it hurts too much.

Look in Her Eyes

The eyes can be a window into your cat’s health. Dilated eyes may indicate pain. Smaller pupils could indicate a problem with the eye itself. If your cat’s squinting, this can mean her eye got scratched or she has an eye infection.

Strange Behavior

This is a bit of a “catch all” category, but pay attention to strange changes in the behavior of your cat. This could take the form of a different type of meow your cat suddenly adopts or overly aggressive biting behavior from a cat who was always calm before. Your cat might start breathing harder or faster, which could indicate pain, asthma, or allergies. Even excessive purring could be a sign that your cat’s trying to comfort herself, if she doesn’t normally purr so frequently.

Stay on alert if kitty isn’t acting right. You know your cat best, so only you may recognize if her behavior isn’t quite right. If you suspect something’s wrong, take her to the vet for a checkup. It’s better to be safe than sorry.