Sign Up for Cat Talk
Get the latest health and behavior news and
advice from the veterinarians at Tufts University.

Feature March 2014 Issue

How Can You Determine If Your Cat is In Pain?

You cat can’t tell you she’s in pain. But her actions are a clue. “Your cat may not be limping, but she may have trouble navigating the stairs,” says Dr. Karas. Watch out for changes in activities such as:

  • Running
  • Chasing objects
  • Jumping up - and down
  • Hunting
  • Going up and down stairs
  • Using the litter tray
  • Playing with toys or other cats
  • Decreased grooming (because they are no longer flexible enough)
  • Running, whether it's to food or away from a dog
  • Increased grooming (because a body part is painful)
  • Getting up from rest or sleep

If you put your cat on a high plane such as a chair, and he’s reluctant to jump down, that’s a sign. Your vet may test this during an examination. “Cats are generally very willing to jump off an examination table,” according to an article entitled “What Can We Do To Promote Patient Comfort?” in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. “When they are reluctant to do so, this may be due to painful joints, especially forelimb joints,” the authors write. “A cat with painful elbows, say, may be very reluctant to jump down, resisting all attempts to encourage this. When [he] does jump, [he] may land very harshly, bringing [his] hind limbs to the ground very quickly, or landing simultaneously on [his] fore limbs, chest and hind limbs.”

Warning: Never Give Your Cat Tylenol!

Never give your cat any painkiller that’s designed for people. Cats are not only tiny compared to people, so figuring out the right dose is very tough to do, but their ability to detoxify medicines is very different. “Acetaminophen [brand name: Tylenol] will kill a cat,” says Dr. Karas. “If the owner brings in a cat who ingested acetaminophen early on, we may be able to save it, but otherwise it will die of liver failure.”

Comments (0)

Be the first to comment on this post using the section below.

New to Tufts Catnip? Register for Free!

Already Registered?
Log In