The Most Common Signs of Feline Pain


In an effort to identify the most common signs of feline pain, a team of animal behaviorists in Great Britain conducted a year-long series of in-depth interviews with 19 veterinary experts. According to the researchers’ findings — published in February 2016 in the scientific journal PLoS ONE— the signs listed below are considered to be the most reliable pain indicators. The most prominent signs include the avoidance of brightly lit areas, growling, changes in feeding behavior, closed eyes and groaning.

  • Absence of grooming
  • Reluctance to move
  • Abnormal gait
  • Difficulty in jumping
  • Frequent licking of a specific body region
  • Withdrawal from company
  • Hiding
  • Avoidance of brightly-lit areas
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Overall decrease in activity
  • Decrease in rubbing against people
  • Closed eyes
  • Frequent shifting of weight
  • Dislike of palpation/petting
  • Lowered head posture
  • Frequent and involuntary blinking
  • Change of behavior while feeding
  • Reluctance to play
  • Groaning, growling
  • Hunched-up posture
  • Straining to urinate
  • Tail twitching


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