Recognizing Cat Pain

Cat pain can be hard to identify. After all, your cat can't tell you when something is wrong. Cats may experience acute or chronic pain for all sorts of reasons, ranging from bladder infections to joint problems and even serious illnesses like cancer. It's up to you, the owner, to know your cat well enough to notice changes in behavior and personality that could indicate a pain problem.

Causes of Cat Pain

Cats can suffer pain for a variety of reasons. Bladder infections, stomach problems, arthritis, tooth decay, cancer and post-operative recovery can all cause your cat a lot of pain. Often, the reasons behind your cat's pain aren't immediately obvious. A cat suffering from severe tooth decay may suddenly stop eating; a cat suffering from arthritis pain may abruptly change his patterns of movement; a cat suffering from any type of eye pain may begin to display protrusion of the third eyelid.

Symptoms of Pain in Cats

Cats often don't show their pain. Pain tolerance varies from one animal to the next; most cats have developed a high tolerance for pain out of evolutionary necessity. The best way to recognize feline pain is to know your cat's routines, behavior and personality. Often, cats show their pain through changes in behavior, personality and routine.

One of the most common symptoms of pain in cats is social withdrawal. Your cat may hide, avoiding human contact, when he's in pain. According to the cause of the pain, your cat may also become depressed or seem to suffer from lethargy. A cat in pain may also display loss of appetite; if your cat is injured or suffering from painful illness such as arthritis, he may display sensitivity to touch in that area.

In general, look for drastic changes in behavior and personality. If your cat seems to be eating much more or less than usual, or seems much more or less active than usual, or seems to be spending too much time in the litter box, it could be a sign of pain.

Treating Pain in Cats

Don't try to treat your cat's pain with over the counter pain medications marketed for humans, as these could be harmful to your cat. If your cat's pain is acute, and due to a medical condition such as tooth decay or urinary tract infection, then treating the underlying condition or cause of the pain should be all that's required to relieve your cat's suffering. Your vet may prescribe feline pain medications, in addition to medications for the treatment of the underlying medical condition.

If your cat's pain is chronic, the result of a long term medical condition such as arthritis, your vet will tailor a pain management program suited to your cat's needs. Try to help minimize your cat's pain by improving the long term medical condition as much as possible; for instance, if your cat is overweight and suffers from arthritis, try to encourage him to lose weight. Do your best to provide a stress free environment for your cat. Try alternative pain management therapies, like acupuncture and massage.