July 10, 2013

How Cats Tell Us When It Hurts

Adverse reaction to vaccine, traumatic injury, illness and aging may all subject your precious kitty to some form of pain. Regrettably, you may not recognize that a cat is hurting. As Dr. Karen Becker, Mercola, puts it: Your Kitties Are Masters at Hiding Chronic Pain.
To make an accurate assessment of your cat’s condition, it’s necessary to know the difference between stress- or fear-related behavior, and behavior that could signal a painful condition.

According to Dr. Sheilah Robertson, former professor of anesthesia and pain management at the University of Florida and current assistant director of the AVMA’s animal welfare division, part of the observation process involves not only looking for signs of abnormal behavior, but normal behavior as well. If your kitty spends a lot of time in a crouched posture or can’t seem to get comfortable in any position, it could mean she’s uncomfortable.

If she’s stretching out or rolling over on her back for a tummy rub, it’s not likely she’s in pain. A cat that is retreating or hiding obviously needs a second look.

Signals of acute pain in cats include changes in posture, activity level, attitude, vocalization, appetite, facial expression and reaction to being touched or handled. There may also be noticeable changes in the eyes, ears and whiskers of a cat in pain. Dr. Robertson advises veterinarians that observing a cat’s appearance and behavior before a painful procedure may provide information after the procedure about whether the cat is comfortable or needs additional help to control pain.

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