Ways Cats Show Pain

Lots of sleep is normal for cats, but sleeping all day might mean your cat is in pain.
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Even if your feline could talk, you'd have a better chance of him admitting that "dogs rule and cats drool" than admitting he's in pain. While your kitty has a penchant for hiding pain, he can't withhold all the signs, like weight loss and lashing out at you for petting him.


Regardless of how much your cat would like you to think he's a barbarian and can withstand anything, he can't avoid limping if his lower body is hurting him. But the limping isn't always immediately noticeable like it is with canines who hop along like a jackrabbit on three legs. Your cat might try to walk like normal but pull his leg with him. It's a subtle move that you can't always catch.

The more pain he's in, the more severe his limp. If his paw is the source of the nagging pain, he'll often shake it as if he just accidentally dipped it into water. That usually signals something's stuck in it, such as a thorn or glass. You can use tweezers to pull out small, foreign objects that aren't embedded deeply into the pad, but for anything more, or if his paw's not the problem, take a trip to your vet.

Behavioral Changes

Think back to the last time you were in pain. The things you tolerated or even enjoyed probably weren't so tolerable anymore. The same goes for your kitty. If his abdomen hurts and you give him a nice belly rub, he might swat at you, bite your hand or let out an exaggerated meow. He's basically telling you, "Stop, that hurts!" Sometimes the pain may stem from an external injury, like an abscess, but the culprit may also be hidden inside and causing problems with his joints, muscles, tendons and other parts of his body. Regardless, give your vet a call.

Lack of Eating

One of the most common signs of excessive pain in cats is a loss of appetite. Arthritis, for example, can be overwhelming if your kitty's getting up there in age and has dealt with the condition for a long time, and he can lose his appetite almost completely. Sores or cuts in the mouth can be agonizing when chewing and swallowing, so your cat decides the heck with it and refuses to chow down. A lack of appetite can indicate a slew of other problems, though, from drug side effects to hypothyroidism, so your vet will probably run a few tests to rule out any other problems. A lack of eating is a very serious problem for cats, so never play it by ear. After just three days of fasting, your kitty can suffer from severe liver damage.


Most cats are lazy as it is. They sit by the window, stare at the birds and then pass out for a few hours. Pain can make your kitty lie around even more than he does now. Sitting still in one place is often the best remedy your cat knows of to keep his pain in check, so he'll sleep more, be way more stationary and generally have a lack of energy. Like a loss of appetite, lethargy can be a symptom of other problems -- although those other problems usually cause pain, like poisoning and infections -- so your cat will have to put up with being carried into the vet's office for an examination and tests.

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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