It can be difficult to tell if your cat is ill or in pain. In the wild showing pain or weakness could make a cat vulnerable so they have evolved to hide it. This can make it difficult for their owners to realise there is an issue.
The signs of pain can be subtle.
Signs to look out for
- Decreased interaction with you – this can be decreased play, not sitting on your lap as much, seeking out solitary spots and hiding away.
- Some cats will purr or meow more than normal. Others may act defensively when touched or approached. They may hiss or swipe.
- Older cats with arthritis may be reluctant to climb stairs or may avoid jumping . Sometimes they will also use the scratching post less or for shorter periods of time and this can result in long nails. They often will use it less due to pain or discomfort from arthritis. You may notice the cat lands from a jump with a louder noise than usual as they get less agile as well.
- Sitting in a hunched position and moving with reluctance.
- Lack of normal grooming behavior. Sometimes cats will also get matts over sore areas or areas that are hard to reach due to underlying pain.
- Occasionally cats will urinate or defecate outside of the litter tray. In arthritic cats it can be difficult for them to get in and out of the litter tray especially a high sided tray. Cats that usually go out to go to the toilet may not be able to do so.
- Limping or visible lameness.
What to do if you notice these signs
If you notice these signs then the first thing you should do is bring your cat in for a check with the vet. They may be able to locate the source of pain and treat accordingly.
Pain relief medications designed for humans can be very toxic so please do not give your cat any.
Your vet may decide to put your cat on a joint supplement or a special diet to help with the condition as well as the appropriate pain relief.
If pain is picked up early then it is more likely to be manageable long term.