As pet owners we love and nurture our pets and the last thing we want is for them to be in any pain. But unfortunately they can not tell us when something hurts, so how are we to know when our pets are in pain? There are some signs that your cat may be in pain that can be noticed by watching and understanding their behaviour.
Discussed below are some signs or behavioural changes which may indicate that your cat is in some kind of pain.
Excessive grooming, licking, scratching or biting – continually and excessively doing this for no obvious reason and/or concentrating on a specific area. This can lead to self-mutilation, ie cuts, sores or broken skin, hair loss, when it becomes a constant habit.
Loss of appetite – going off food or not eating with no obvious or apparent reason. The cat should be seen by a vet as soon as possible as this can be an indicator for some serious health problems.
Vocalisation – unusual vocalisation such as whining, crying, grunting, howling, yelping, whimpering, hissing or screeching.
Toileting changes – toileting habits change, ie urinating less or more, pain when passing faeces, straining to urinate or defecate. Or going to the toilet in strange and/or different places.
Stomach upset – vomiting and diarrhoea can sometimes be stress induced or brought on by pain.
Limping – lameness, limping or favouring a particular limb during any movement such as when walking, running, jumping, getting up or down.
Aggression – uncharacteristic aggression such as growling, snapping, hissing, scratching or biting is often a defence mechanism for cats that are in pain to avoid being touched or moved.
Change in activity levels or movement – avoiding jumping, running, climbing, playing or climbing stairs. Being reluctant to move or difficulty when getting up, down or sitting and being restless.
Shyness – hiding from people and other pets and avoiding socialisation.
Heavy panting – unexplained heavy panting, ie not hot, over exerted or in a stressful situation.
If you notice any of these signs or behavioural changes in your cat you should take them to see their veterinarian as soon as possible. A vet will be able to determine if there is a health issue and treat them as required. As always early intervention, advice and treatment allows for the best outcome for your pet.
Originally published in My Pet Magazine Winter 2015.
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