Cat Pain Diagnosis

A cat pain diagnosis can stem from one of several events or circumstances. Many diseases can cause significant pain in the cat, as can accidental trauma, infection or gastrointestinal problems. Cats are skilled at hiding pain, due to instinct. Cats in the wild are often eliminated if signs of weakness are displayed, therefore if a cat is showing pain symptoms at home, it's likely that the degree of pain is significant.

Cat Pain Indicators

Before seeking a cat pain diagnosis, you're likely to notice indicators that will vary depending upon the severity of the pain and the personality of the individual cat. Some cats will get quiet, lethargic and have a tendency to hide from sight. Other cats may become aggressive by biting, scratching or growling when you approach them. A vast majority of cats in pain will lose interest in eating, which may result in weight loss, abnormal stools or poor coat luster. The following is a list of symptoms you may notice if pain is present in a particular area:

  • Leg pain - stiffness, lameness, abnormal movements, limp
  • Abdominal pain - pacing, lying with hind legs in the air, excessive vocalization
  • Eye pain - redness, weeping, cloudiness of the eyes, redness, inflammation

Cat Pain Diagnosis and Testing

In order to reach a pain diagnosis for cats, a number of tests will likely be run, and the type of tests will be determined by additional symptoms that are present. Testing normally begins with a complete physical examination and evaluation of medical history. Once the source of pain has been determined, more specific tests will be performed, such as an eye, oral, orthopedic or neurological examination. Some results will require more information obtained by blood tests, urinalysis, x-rays, biopsy, biochemical profile, ultrasound or bacterial culture.

Treatment Options for a Cat Pain Diagnosis

Treatment options for a pain diagnosis in cats will include a mixture of pain relief methods and specialized treatments for the illness, infection or disease which is causing the pain. Medications which relieve pain must be approached with caution, as cats are highly susceptible to toxicity from many different conventional and alternative medications. Keep the following points in mind when considering treatment options for your cat's pain:

  • Analgesic drugs designed to alleviate pain can be given orally or by injectable form. Butorphanol is acceptable for use in cats and is commonly used for pain relief.
  • Steroids are an anti-inflammatory medication used for the treatment of very specific conditions, and often used as a last resort because of potentially serious side effects.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like ketoprofen and aspirin, can help to relieve pain and successfully treat the inflammation that's causing it. 

Alternative Methods of Treatment

In addition to treatment with medication, other options may be beneficial or even necessary. You may find that some of the following natural remedies and lifestyle changes are recommended for home treatment of cat pain, in addition to conventional medication:

  • Dietary changes
  • Administration of intravenous fluids
  • Application of heat or cold compresses
  • Changes to the cat's environment which promote comfort
  • Homeopathy
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic