Some cats seem almost smart enough to talk – in fact, many of them have no problem vocalizing their needs. But cats in pain tend to do the opposite. They may grow quiet and reclusive. Cats are very good at masking their suffering, whether they are ill, in pain, or just having a bad day. A cat can be hurting for a long time without his or her owner ever having a clue. Therefore, it is a good idea for you to know your cat’s habits and be aware of subtle changes in your pet.
Ways to spot if your cat is sick or in pain:
- Lack of Appetite. Many cats are finicky eaters to begin with, so for your cat to refuse food might not wave any red flags. But if they go a day or two without eating or seem to have trouble chewing, with food falling out of their mouths, it’s time for a trip to the vet. Cats who refuse to eat or drink are saying something is wrong, and this is often the first, most notable sign of pain or illness owners notice.
- Changes in Grooming. Cats that are sick or in pain will often lose the energy to groom themselves. If your cat’s hair seems clumped or oily and they are no longer interested in self-cleaning, this can be a sign that something is wrong. On the other hand, a cat that has an injury will often lick the area excessively. Pay attention to your cat’s fur. Does it feel normal, clean, and soft? If you notice a change, bring them in for a checkup.
- Changes in Mobility. Has your cat been hiding under the bed for two days? Are they sitting, hunched in one spot, refusing to move? This is a sign that something is wrong. Usually, even the laziest couch potato cat will still run to the kitchen at the sound of a can opener. What triggers your cat into motion? Try it, and if they don’t respond, get them to the clinic.
- Biting, Growling, and Hissing. Cats in pain are more likely to become defensive. Even the most benevolent of cats can become irritable and use their claws if you handle them when they are hurting. Be careful! A cat bite can lead to bad infection, so be gentle and use caution when handling one that seems upset.
- Litter Box Changes. The cat’s use of its litter box is a good indicator of well-being. If your cat is going excessively, they could be suffering from a bladder or urinary tract infection. If your cat isn’t using the litter box at all, this could be a sign of a serious issue. A cat that is defecating outside of the box may have a medical problem, or it could just mean a dirty litter box. Maintain a clean litter box by scooping it daily, and keep an eye on your cat’s bathroom habits.
There are a number of issues that can cause pain in a cat, which are not always immediately noticeable. A few of these are:
- Bladder inflammation
- Kidney stones
- Urinary tract infection
- Tooth abscess
- Ear infection
- Obstruction in digestive tract
Be aware that purring is not always a sign of physical well-being. Some cats can purr their way through almost any ordeal. But if you interact with them daily and stay alert to signs of distress, you’ll be able to tell if and when your cat is sick.
If you think your cat is sick, find a veterinarian near you.