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How Do Cats Feel Pain? Facts & Signs

Cats have a similar nervous system as humans and other animals.1 They can feel pain whether due it’s to injuries, illnesses, or dental problems. However, cats do not usually show signs of their pain. Instead, they tend to try and hide their pain, only showing signs of it when it’s not possible to do otherwise. So, you may wonder how you’re supposed to know when your cat is in pain for one reason or another. Here is the information that you need to know when your cat is in pain and what to do about it.

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Why Cats Try to Hide Their Pain

Cats used to live in the wild as free animals before humans ever domesticated them. Back then, they would have to worry about predators of many kinds. One thing that they could not do in the wild is show that they were in any pain because that would be an invitation for predators to home in on them. After all, injured or ill prey are easy pickings.

Therefore, wild cats would do all that they could to hide their pain. Domesticated cats today still have the same instincts to hide their pain, which is why they do it even when living in a comfortable home. So, you may not notice that your cat has an injury or illness that is causing pain until the problem becomes so serious that they cannot hide it.

cat lying down
Image Credit: Pixabay

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Signs That Your Cat Might Be in Pain

There are a few signs to look for that your cat might be in pain, but you could easily miss these if you are not looking for them. For example, you may think that your cat not letting you pet them in a certain spot is just weird behavior. However, the reason could be because that area is painful. You might attribute a loss of interest in playing or activity is due to old age, but pain could really be the culprit. Other signs to look for that might mean your cat is in pain include:

  • They are slower to lie down or get up than usual.
  • They make noises or cry when being petted or picked up.
  • They are walking with a slight limp or strange posture.
  • They have stopped grooming themselves as much as they used to.
  • They have lost interest in jumping up on their favorite furniture.
  • They have become uncharacteristically aggressive.
cat meowing
Image Credit: Stanimir G.Stoev, Shutterstock

Every cat is different, so yours could display signs that are not listed here or show no signs at all. This is why it is important to keep a close eye on your cat’s behaviors to make sure that no sudden changes occur, even if they seem minute.

What to Do If Your Cat Shows Signs of Pain

If you find that your cat is showing signs of pain in any way, it is important to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible to discuss the situation. Your vet should be able to provide you with guidance or ask you to take your pet in for a checkup, depending on the signs of pain that you have observed. It is a good idea to avoid handling your cat until you can determine what is causing their pain.

Consider putting them in a kennel with a cozy blanket until you have spoken to your vet and determined what steps to take. This will keep your cat safe and contained where they cannot get further hurt or aggravate an illness. Do not give your cat any medications or supplements without consent from your vet first.

cat is being checked by a vet
Image Credit: Maria Sbytova, Shutterstock

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Some Final Comments

Cats can feel pain, and they feel it much like we do. However, they do not typically show their pain. Therefore, it is important to keep a close eye on your cat after they get injured or when they come down with an illness. If any signs of pain are spotted, you can work with your vet to address the pain and its cause.

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Featured Image Credit: Milada Vigerova, Pixabay