25 tell-tale signs that your cat is in pain

25 tell-tale signs that your cat is in pain


Posted 1st Mar 2016 by Peter Byrne


One of the hardest parts of owning a cat is telling when it's in pain - to help cat owners out, a new study has compiled a list of tell-tale signs to let us know when they're actually in pain

Published in journal PLOS One, the report, entitled the Behavioural Signs of Pain in Cats: An Expert Consensus, worked through 91 signs to reach a list of 25 tell-tale signs. The process involved four rounds of elimination to reach agreement over the signs of behaviour - this was reached if at least 80% agreed.

Of the 25 signs two were still up for debate over the intensity of the pain - these were straining to urinate and tail flitching. Of the 23 definitely agreed signs, the vast majority were present in instances of both low and high level pain. There were five signs that were rarely exhibited for low pain - these were a change in feeding behaviour, avoiding bright areas, growling, groaning, and having closed eyes. The study also eliminated signs not deemed to be sufficient enough, such as panting, trembling or shivering.

Speaking about the findings, Caroline Fawcett, Chairman of Feline Friends, said: "Cats are notorious for not showing that they are in pain, and the more that we can find out what the signals are, then the sooner we can get them to the vets for diagnosis and treatment. There is a long way still to go before the more subtle signs can be identified, but we are really excited about progress to date."

The 25 signs are:
1. Lameness
2. Difficulty to jump
3. Abnormal gait
4. Reluctant to move
5. Reaction to palpitation
6. Withdraw/hiding
7. Absence of grooming
8. Playing less
9. Appetite decrease
10. Overall activity decrease
11. Less rubbing toward people
12. General mood
13. Temperament
14. Hunched up posture
15. Shifting of weight
16. Licking a particular body region
17. Lower head posture
18. Blepharospasm (involuntary forcible blinking)
19. Change in form of feeding behaviour (rare in low level pain)
20. Avoiding bright areas (rare in low level pain)
21. Growling (rare in low level pain)
22. Groaning (rare in low level pain)
23. Eyes closed (rare in low level pain)
24. Straining to urinate
25. Tail flitching

Image courtesy of Getty / Getty Image News / Christopher Furlong





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