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Cat Pain Management - Recognizing and Treating Pain in Cats

How will I know if my cat is in pain?

It can be very subtle, or it can be very obvious to you.

Some questions to ask yourself in regards to signs and symptoms that your cat may be in pain are:

  • Is the cat hiding?
  • Is the cat acting abnormally?
  • Is the cat aggressive when we go to pick them up or touch them in different places?
  • Are there changes in behavior related to not using our litter box properly or getting in and out of our litter box?
  • Is that cat not getting up or down on certain counters or stairwells that they usually would?
  • Is there an overall reduction in activity?
  • Is the cat more vocal than usual? Often vocalization can indicate some type of discomfort.

Again, you know your cat best, but if you suspect your cat is in pain, definitely call us.


Dr. Mitch McKee
Berry Farms Animal Hospital - Cupola Animal Hospitals

How will my vet know if my cat is in pain?

We know based on what you're telling us from a historical standpoint, what you see at home, and how we're seeing them move around in the exam room—doing a good physical exam, starting with the nose and going to the tail and examining how well our range of motion in our joints. Are there any painful spots that we pick up on as we're going along through our exam? And if nothing's turning up, that's pretty obvious to you or us; sometimes, we have to do more advanced diagnostics.

What are some possible conditions that can cause cat pain, and what are some of the pain treatments?

The most common conditions for pain are going to be some type of injury or trauma. Obviously, with those, we want to use pain medication to help decrease discomfort. Many of our older cats suffer from arthritis, and arthritis is pretty common in our cats that aren't as mobile as they used to be. They're not jumping up, they're not going up and down the stairs, and they're not as active and playful as they once were. And there are some medications we can use to help with their joint health, and there are diets and supplements we can use to help manage that.

We know that our cats get cancer and have cancers that require chemotherapy or pain medication to help with the discomfort associated with that disease. So the situation and what may be hurting the cat often dictates what type of pain medication or pain protocol we should use.

What's the most important consideration when it comes to cat pain management?

The most important thing to consider is that we are much more advanced in terms of pain management in terms of our canine patients than we are in our cat patients. There's just not one good medication that helps all our cats, and a lot of that has to do with how they process those medications.

So it's important to remember that if we're trying to manage pain in your cat—it's often going to require a multiple modality approach. And that may be pharmaceutical uses only, or pharmaceuticals combined with maybe some alternative type care. So to get the best protocol may often require us to use multiple treatments to figure out what's going to work best for us.

If you still have other questions regarding your cat and what we can do to help your cat manage its pain, you can call us directly at (615) 224-7776, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.

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