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It can be quite challenging to tell when your cat is in pain. Sometimes, the writing on the wall is obvious – especially if your cat has a large cut, a noticeable limp or has been through an accident. But, at other times, the signs can be quite subtle. It is in situations that like this that you need to know what to look for. Generally, cats hide their pain quite well. Fortunately, there are many indicators. Let us take a look at a few of the most common ones:
- Scratching and biting – Cats suffering from pain are most likely to scratch and bite when they are touched in the painful area or even if they anticipate you touching them there.
- Breathing changes – Most cats in pain have more shallow breathing than normal cats. You might also notice them panting. Sometimes, you would be able to see changes in the abdominal or chest muscle movement.
- Pulse and heart changes – Cats in pain often have increased pulse/heart rate, which speeds up noticeably if the painful area is moved or touched. Take a first aid course, or ask the vet about it.
- Purring – Just because your cat is purring more than usual does not mean he is not in pain. If your cat purrs while exhibiting any of the other signs in this list, then the purring is most likely pain related.
- Eye changes – Eyes are a strong indicator of pain. This is true for eye pain and pain in other areas of the body. The former is accompanied by constricted pupils and the latter by dilated pupils. Squinting might also be an indicator of pain.
- Water and food changes – Cats suffering from pain tend to drink and eat less. If the cause of the pain is oral, they will drop their food while eating.
- Grooming changes – Cats in pain tend to groom themselves less than usual. However, if your cat has a wound in a particular area, you will notice him grooming the area excessively.
- Changes in the energy level – A decrease in the normal level of activity is a telltale sign of pain. If your cat sleeps more, jumps/runs less than normal or spends a lot of time under the couch or the bed, then you need to take him to the vet immediately.
- Changes in the contour of the body – Swelling, whether of the face, body or legs, are an indication of a painful condition, like an abscess on the tooth root, cat bite, cancer, inflammation, or something else.
If you think your cat is in pain, then take him to the vet. Do not self-prescribe medication as it might end up causing inadvertent toxicity or exacerbate the injury.