Animals who appear sick in the wild are vulnerable to predators, hence they disguise themselves when they are in pain. Over time, this became a behaviour of instinct and cats are no exception. Cats usually mask or hide their pain making it difficult to tell if they are sick.
The following signs will help you tell when your pet is having pain:
- Activity level: You may notice restlessness, reluctance to move, difficulty getting up, limping, hiding/withdrawing, shaking/trembling, or seeking more attention.
- Vocalizing: You may observe hissing, purring, growling, and meowing more than normal.
- Self-mutilation: You can notice excessive licking, biting, or scratching of a particular body part.
- Disrupted daily habits: These include urinating frequently, sleeping more, not using the litter box, reduced appetite, not grooming or grooming less, and changes in sleep pattern.
- Changed facial expression: This is described as a grimace – a vacant stare into the space. Flattened ears, enlarged pupils, sleepy look, and panting when at rest are also common.
- Aggressive: A friendly cat can suddenly become aggressive. You will see the ears pinned back, she may act out of character, growl or bite.
- Self-protection: Protecting a particular body part from touch or use.
- Posture: You will notice the abdomen tucked in, the back arched with the feet underneath the body. She might also be favouring a part of the body over the other.
If you notice any of these signs, you should inform your veterinarian immediately. Please do not self-medicate your cat. Most human painkillers are toxic in cats. You can provide soft bedding, quiet and comfortable environment till you get medical attention.