Sudden Pain in Older Cats

"I'm not in the mood for you."
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Misty has been right by your side for years. She snuggled up next to you every night during college and never judged you for working those late nights when you started your career. Now that she’s older, she might experience sudden pain, reducing her energy levels. There are several possible causes of sudden pain in older cats.


Felines are notorious for hiding pain. They always have their game face on, because showing pain is a sign of weakness to a predator.

As your adored pal gets older, the lining in her joints naturally wears down. Bones start to rub together, causing inflammation and swelling in her joints. Arthritis gets worse as she ages, but it might not have caused her a lot of pain until now. Perhaps the colder weather is bothering her, or maybe her pain has become so severe she simply cannot hide it anymore.

Watch her do her everyday things. If she struggles to get in and out of the litter box, stumbles over when waking up from a nap, or climbs the stairs slowly and one at a time, arthritic pain might be to blame.

Mouth Pain

Ever had a bad toothache? You probably didn’t go around holding your jaw. Instead you lost your appetite, you had no energy for anything, and you wanted to curl up in a ball until the pain died down.

Poor Misty experiences the same things if her mouth hurts, but she can’t tell you. Periodontal disease is common among senior kitties, affecting more than 85 percent older than 6, according to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Over the years, layers of plaque harden on your companion’s teeth. At its peak, periodontal disease leads to bacterial poisoning and severe inflammation of the gums. Even though periodontal disease takes time to develop, pain from a rotting tooth or sore gums can arise suddenly when the disorder is at the worst point.

Abdominal Pain

Finding the cause of acute abdominal pain can be tricky. A sudden onset of abdominal pain makes Misty act extremely lethargic. She might may tremble, howl, breathe heavily and have vomiting or diarrhea. Acute pain can stem from a sudden illness such as a kitty flu, a viral infection, parasites in the intestines, or an abscess of her liver or surrounding organs. Older cats are more susceptible to developing malignant cancers that lead to sudden belly pains, PetMD reports.

Write down all of her symptoms and fill your vet in on as much as you know. He’ll gather the information and will probably want to do an X-ray to help determine the exact cause of her pain.

Additional Concerns

When you’re in pain, you’re probably grouchy and want everyone to stay away from you. Humans can tell each other to go away. Kitties don’t have the same luxury. Misty can’t explain that she doesn’t feel good, so she’ll hiss or growl at you or your other feline family members, letting you know that she wants to be left alone.

Don’t take it personally. She’s not mad at you, it’s just that cats in pain can be slightly aggressive. Keep her separated from other animals in your home until she recovers. You don’t want her to pick a fight and wind up with an injury.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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