35 Signs That Your Cat May Be In Pain

Some people will tell you that cats are good at hiding their pain. This is only partially true. Your cat cannot verbalize her pain. She can’t let you know with words when it hurts, nor can she say where it hurts or what kind of pain she’s feeling. That doesn’t mean you can’t tell she’s in pain.

There are many signs that indicate pain and physical discomfort in cats and it is up to us to carefully monitor our kitties and get them the help they need. The following list can help you identify pain in cats. If you suspect your cat is unwell, read through these items and checkmark the ones that your cat displays. Take that list with you to the vet, as some conditions may cause pain in more than one area of the body.

Possible signs of general pain and physical discomfort

1. Any change in behavior or character.
2. Sleeping more often than usual.
3. Aggressive behavior towards humans or other cats/pets.
4. Avoiding movement.
5. Spending time in a hunched posture with lowered head (could indicate abdominal pain).
6. Changes in facial expression such as keeping the eyelids half-closed and/or the mouth open for long periods of time.
7. Lack of response to stimuli such as voices, noise, light, toys etc.
8. Not wanting to play (in a cat that used to enjoy playtime).
9. Avoiding interaction with humans or other pets.
10. Hiding.
11. Decreased appetite.
12. Loss of appetite (if your cat stops eating altogether this could be an emergency. Read more here: Why Has My Cat Stopped Eating And Is It Dangerous? )
13. Soiling and litterbox avoidance. (Read more about litterbox issues here: How To Solve Litterbox Problems In Cats The Ultimate Guide)
14. Vocalizing when using the litterbox.
15. Agitation and pacing.
16. Resisting being held up or lifted
17. Biting/scratching when touched in a specific spot.
18. Vocalizing when touched in a specific spot.
19. Flinching or trying to get away when touched in a specific spot.
20. Licking a spot to the point of over-grooming.
21. Avoiding grooming a specific spot.
22. Shaking a limb and/or biting it.
23. Limping and avoiding putting weight on a limb
24. Stiffness, especially after waking up.
25. Limping, especially after waking up.
26. Difficulty standing and walking.
27. Reluctance to jump, get up or climb stairs or furniture.
28. Drooling.
29. Lip licking.
30. Squinting.
31. Shutting the eyes.
32. Scratching around ears.
33. Bald patches and injured skin as a result of scratching around ears.
34. Shaking head.
35. Scooting.

You know your cat best. Some of these symptoms may be traits that are typical to certain cats and do not necessarily indicate pain. However, if your cat displays any of these as new behaviors, they could mean that your cat is in pain due to some physical cause. Don’t let your cat suffer. Call your vet and discuss the symptoms with her or him as soon as possible.


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5 comments on “35 Signs That Your Cat May Be In Pain

petersjeanne February 11, 2020
I have a beautiful, all black cat named Midnite, 2 years old this Spring 2020, who was left in a church parking lot in Summer of 2018. Her sister was homed immediately but Midnite continued to make her home under the fence line. The children at the church would take her food and coax her out two days out of the week. When I saw her for the first time, I realized why no one would take her. She dragged one back leg. My heart broke. I went back that same night with a carrier and food to get her. She was actually about 5 months old but small for her age because she wasn't getting enough to eat. That changed pretty quickly when I got her home. I never saw a little cat put down so much food at one time! lol. So, here's the problem. I'm hoping someone has something comforting to say about this before I start vet shopping. Her pelvis had been broken but was healed and the growth area of the leg (?) bone(s) were damaged. I know this because I had x-rays taken so I would know for sure what was going on and if she could be helped immediately. She's a "darter" so I can see how she might have gotten caught in a door being slammed shut or some other similar situation. She can climb carpeted poles, leap up on the bed, run and chase with the other two cats but she avoids fighting because she knows she's limited. Her pain symptoms are that she will stop suddenly and bite her back legs at the hip joint--both sides. She also flops down on the floor on her side a lot. She will jump off the bed where she sleeps and flop on the floor immediately. I live in SE Pennsylvania, where the cost of living is high, including veterinary services. Specialized surgery is even more expensive. I've taken my other cats to the vet that my regular vet uses and paid $1,700 for a simple top of the head abscess from a cat bite. I was afraid he had a concussion. Here's what I would like to do for Midnite.... Maybe someone who reads this can give me some feedback. I want to take Midnite to Dr. Jeff, the Rocky Mountain Vet in Colorado. If anyone could do surgery for Midnite, this vet or one of his vets, could. I don't know. I trust his integrity and his skill and that he makes caring for your animal affordable. No vet in this area will give you an opinion over the phone. You must make an appointment and bring your animal in for consultation. They want to take blood, run labs, and rule out who knows what. I am afraid vets around here will will tell me that nothing can be done.
kittencat123 October 23, 2018
My cat likes to be pet on the stomach. She is very active, pretty, and healthy. Is this just a quirk, or is something wrong?
meowbrand September 23, 2016
Another one I've noticed which I guess would fall under behavior is that they go sleep in odd places they never slept in before. 
glory jasmine January 21, 2016
A lot of these are normal behavior for my cats. But very informative and I appreciate the knowledge. [emoji]9786[/emoji]️
dennis47 January 13, 2016
Much appreciation for the informative article.

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