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What is Pain?

In the event that you believe your cat is experiencing pain, whether mild or severe, prompt evaluation by a veterinarian is always the best option in order to discover exactly what is causing the discomfort.

When specialized sensory nerve endings (pain receptors) are stimulated, it leads to unfortunate sensation known as pain. For cats, it is a defense mechanism, telling the body that it is injured and urging the cat to move away from what may be causing it. It is a subjective reaction that is difficult to detect in cats as they typically hide the fact that they are in pain.

Pain Average Cost

From 332 quotes ranging from $300 - $2,000

Average Cost

$800

Symptoms of Pain in Cats

It is not always simple to detect that your cat is in pain. Tolerance for pain can affect how a pet will react. Some are more outward, while others are subtle. However, careful observation of your cat performing everyday activities should help with identifying pain. The following are some of the signs to look out for:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Vocalization (e.g. howling, moaning)
  • Aggression (e.g. biting, scratching)
  • Rapid or shallow breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Restlessness
  • Change in mobility (e.g. limping, stiffness, refusal to use stairs)
  • Resistance to being handled or picked up
  • Withdrawal from activities
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Causes of Pain in Cats

There are many conditions that can cause your cat to experience pain. Some are more obvious, while others can go undetected. Listed below are common conditions that can bring about pain:

  • Surgery
  • Trauma 
  • Infection
  • Cancer
  • Urinary tract blockage or stones
  • Digestive problems
  • Exposure to extreme heat or cold
  • Tissue complications (e.g. inflammation, tissue death, loss of blood supply)
  • Arthritis
  • Bladder inflammation
  • Eye conditions
  • Dental Conditions
  • Neurological condition
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Diagnosis of Pain in Cats

To first determine what is causing your cat's discomfort, your veterinarian will want to localize the pain to narrow possible causes down. A physical examination can determine any obvious causes such as an injury. Providing the vet with a thorough history of your cat and its symptoms can also aid in this process.

Depending on what is found in the history and physical examination, your vet will recommend performing other diagnostic tests. Both oral and eye examinations can detect if a dental or visual problem is causing your cat pain, while looking at the genitalia and the ears can rule out complications in those areas. Your vet will also want to conduct a complete blood count (CBC) and a biochemical profile to check for infection and systemic illnesses.

Further tests include X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs of any area that is identified to be feeling pain, as well as ultrasounds of both the heart and the abdomen. Depending on what your vet feels is causing the pain, he or she may wish to perform more invasive procedures such as a biopsy of the tissue or a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tap.

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Treatment of Pain in Cats

Once your cat's pain has been narrowed down to a specific area(s), your vet can begin proper treatment to resolve your pet’s discomfort.

Underlying Conditions

Treatment options will vary with the nature and source of a cat’s pain. Procedures and therapy may be administered to treat underlying conditions, which could range from medication or dietary changes to a dental cleaning or surgery. Treating and resolving the primary condition or injury should help relieve the cat’s discomfort.

Medication

Your vet may recommend the use of various pain medications to alleviate your cat's suffering. Some of these include the likes of opioids (e.g. morphine) which are more commonly prescribed in the event of extreme distress. They will typically be given following a surgical procedure or in the management of a cat who deals with chronic pain in order to give them better quality of life.

In the case of inflammation being the culprit behind the pain, anti-inflammatory medicine will work best. For example, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can treat mild to moderate levels of pain. Corticosteroids are used to generally handle cases of arthritis or allergies, but they do run the risk of long-term side effects. As cats are very susceptible to the side effects of pain and anti-inflammatory drugs, you should always thoroughly consult with your vet before beginning any medication.

Supportive Care

When possible conditions are still being diagnosed, your vet may place your cat under supportive care to make it as comfortable as possible. This care includes measures such as changing the environment temperature, administering IV fluids, and providing supplemental nutrients. 

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Recovery of Pain in Cats

Any prescribed medication should be administered exactly how your vet specified. It is easy for a cat to overdose or experience harmful side effects, so it is important that you follow the medication plan laid out. Be sure to pay close attention to your cat's behavior. This includes monitoring their activity level, gait, and even their appetite. Pain is not something that goes away overnight, so continued monitoring is important, just as having frequent follow-ups with your veterinarian.

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Pain Average Cost

From 332 quotes ranging from $300 - $2,000

Average Cost

$800

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Pain Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

Charlie

dog-breed-icon

Domesting Shorthair

dog-age-icon

4 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Pain
Limping

I adopted a 4 year old, previously stray, cat in January. He's the best. However, over the past two months I noticed him limping more and more in his back right leg. Additionally, he wont put weight on it when he's jumping up or down. We went to the vet last week and after looking at the xrays the vet discovered that there are old bb gun bullets/pieces of bullets lodged in his hip and shin. He was put on buprenorphine for a week to see if his behavior was different with his likely pain taken away. He has definitely been in less pain this week. No limping, even weight distribution of his back legs and playing even more than before. My vet suggested just keeping him on buprenorphine for the foreseeable future. Is that what you would recommend as well? It seems like I wouldnt recommend to a human to stay on opioids for the rest of their life and I'm nervous about doing that to my cat. Are there possibilities that removing the metal could help take his pain away? He was a stray so no idea when the injury happened or how long the metal has been in there.

Sept. 18, 2018

Charlie's Owner

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Oreo

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domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

15 Months

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Doesnt Eat
Low Urination

My cat has leukemia and has lost a lot of weight. He doesn’t eat anymore, he sleeps all day, he doesn’t go the bathroom, he’s very thin, and doesn’t look the same anymore. Is it time to put him down?

Aug. 23, 2018

Oreo's Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

It may be, sadly. It is sort of our job to make sure that our pets aren't suffering, and when they don't have any quality of life, we are able to help ease them through this. Your veterinarian can tell you for sure if Oreo is suffering, but it seems that he isn't doing any of the things that make life worth living anymore.

Aug. 23, 2018

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Trunks

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Cat

dog-age-icon

9 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Pain When Lifted

For the last three days my 9mth kitten has been loudly meowing whenever I pick him up, today he’s bitten me really hard because I tried to help him down off the bench. He had been constipated which has happened before, he also refuses to drink water I have tried everything to get him to drink water, I’m not sure if he’s still constipated or injured, there’s no sign of any injury and I’ve felt his ribs for any sign of pain. It’s only recently that he’s been doin this.

Aug. 21, 2018

Trunks' Owner


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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Pain can be due to a variety of causes and may be due to spinal pain (spine flexes when lifted) or abdominal pain (pushing abdominal contents); without examining Trunks it is difficult to say what the specific cause is but I would suggest visiting your Veterinarian for an examination to be on the safe side since the pain and constipation may be related to an obstruction or other issue. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 21, 2018

I’ve already booked him for a check up, I’m so worried for him and will post the results from his vet visit.

Aug. 21, 2018

Trunks's Owner

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Marcello

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Unknown

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6 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Pain

Hello, today my cat seems to be in pain, walking slowly, tail seems stiff and is always low, and meowing differently than usual so that to me is a clear sign he's not feeling well. It also seems hes not eating or it may cause him discomfort. I also just saw him try to use the litter box but nothing happened. All this is recent, I was gone yesterday but my mother said she noticed nothing out of the ordinary.

Aug. 19, 2018

Marcello's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Without examining Marcello it is not possible to determine whether there is pain or something else causing the symptoms described; if Marcello seems to be in pain or discomfort (or seems not himself) you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 20, 2018

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Malcolm

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short hair

dog-age-icon

10 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Sound With Mouth

My cat Malcolm makes a weird sound with his mouth randomly. When I had him neutered in March this was mentioned to the vet and he looked at his mouth and said everything seemed fine. He still randomly does this. I uploaded a video to YouTube and attached a link to it if you could watch and let me know if this is something that needs to be checked into further. The sound is low so you will need to turn up your volume to hear it. I am hoping he is not in pain. https://youtu.be/wuLOnL35Xh4

July 3, 2018

Malcolm's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1611 Recommendations

That is an odd noise and behavior. It almost seems to me that he may be nauseous when he is doing that, and if his mouth and teeth appeared normal on exam, it might be a good idea to try giving Malcolm some hairball paste and see if that resolves it, if he has a hairball or something that is irritating his upper GI tract. If it doesn't resolve, you can show that video to your veterinarian, and it may help them figure out what is happening with him.

July 4, 2018

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Pretty

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Tabby Cat

dog-age-icon

18 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Despite my cat being 18 years old she's always been healthy!! She got severely hydrated over maybe 48 hours!I took her to the vet, Pretty sure the sneezing gave it away She had the cat flew! They tried to hydrate her with 0 success. She drinks all day because I ll leave faucet to run! I noticed she has a lot of discomfort in her back legs going up the steps! Is it okay for me to carry her or do they like their independence? When I can I get her and she doesn't seem to mind but if she sees me she runs up the steps which I don't want that either. indoors alway

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Luna

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domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

20 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Weakness
Limping
Constipation
Not Grooming

Luna was a shelter kitten, she's spayed but has no shots and she's been an apartment cat since. A few months ago she started loosing a lot of weight and can't eat even though she tries to. She makes a crunching sound with her teeth but she hasnt lost any teeth. She's lost control of her bladder, her ears are floppy and she can hardly walk. She was a very playful cat but now she spends her day laying down trying to get warm. She's a very loving and well behaved cat, I don't want to see her in pain. Would it be best to put her to sleep?

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Fluffy

dog-breed-icon

Ragamuffin

dog-age-icon

7 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Loss Of Appetite
Fatigue
Not Wanting To Play
Aggressive When Picked Up
Sniffs Randomly At The Ground

Help!!!** My 7mo old male cat was angry after waking him from his nap. I went to pick him up and he whined at me. Then when I laid him on the couch and went to pet him and talk to him, he growled and hissed and tried clawing and biting at me. He won't even come to me when called and this is very out of the norm for him as he is, what I like to call "Mama's Baby". He is a very affectionate and loveable cat, so his behavior is worrying me. I have 3 other cats to tend too so I just noticed this around noon time. I will monitor his actions from here on out and post updates, but if anyone may know what could be going on, I'd sure appreciate some help. He, as well as my other 3 cats are indoor/outdoor cats. I don't know if it could be an injury or if he just isn't feeling well.

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Momma Kit-ten

dog-breed-icon

Egytptian Mau

dog-age-icon

8 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Growls, Hisses, Throws Up

I have a 7 month old kitten, and she went outside . a few days ago when i went in the room she was there laying on the bed i tried to pet her and she gave out a terrible cry at the same time i retracted my hand because i had thousands of cactus hairs in it. she was covered with it. the worst thing is her foot something ripped out two of her right hind toes and the other two are mangled.the nails are vertically ripped all the way past the cuticle and into the meat.she is still currently in the same condition except now the throws up after eating. the hides her foot under her tail the puts her front paw on top then lays her head on top of the lot. i cannot afford a cell phone so you know what the chances of me taking her to the vet are. I can care for her foot but she will not allow me to get near it. she growls, hisses, and spits. please help me i can not even afford a ell phone and

dog-name-icon

Willow

dog-breed-icon

Persian

dog-age-icon

Four Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Pain
Not Moving
Lethargic, Not Jumping

Our 4 year old cat started acting like she is in pain 2 weeks ago. We thought she may had been injured playing with her sister. She had congenital diaphramic hernia surgery 8 months ago so we were concerned. After multiple trips to the vet, x-rays, ultrasound, CT Scan, blood work twice, and exams we still do not know what is wrong with our kitty. They have checked her teeth, her spine, etc. Is it possible she has an injury that will just take time to heal. We were sent home after the CT scan with pain meds and told to see how she does in a week. She does eat which makes us feel a little better but other than that she just lays in front of our fireplace. Any other suggestions? We are desprite to help her feel better.

Pain Average Cost

From 332 quotes ranging from $300 - $2,000

Average Cost

$800