How Can I Tell if My Cat is in Pain?

Just like humans, cats can experience different levels of pain.  Although cats cannot talk to us to let us know they are experiencing pain, they are always communicating with their behaviour, body language and facial expressions. 

Owners at home may notice a difference in their cat’s interactions with family members and eating routines, but not realize that these could potentially be signs of pain.  Being able to identify different levels of pain can be easy if you know what you are looking for.  You can use this chart to help aid you with recognizing the signs of pain in your cat.

  • Exhibits normal play behaviour and is interested in surroundings
  • Normal eating habits
  • Content and quiet


  • Signs can be subtle at this stage some owners may notice their behaviour is “off”
  • Not as interested in play or surroundings
  • May be less interested in food


Seek veterinary care

  • Quiet, eyes seem dull
  • May be hiding or not interacting with family as much
  • Sits all curled up with legs under them, tail curled around, shoulders hunched, head hanging lower then body
  • Eyes dull, hair coat appears rough
  • Less interested in food or not eating
  • May be licking or excessively grooming at areas that are painful


Seek veterinary care

  • Hissing, yowling or growling when alone
  • May try to bite owners when approached
  • Biting at areas
  • Stays in one spot for long periods of time



Seek veterinary care


  • Flat out
  • Unaware of surroundings or unconscious
  • Doesn’t respond to family
  • Will allow owners to touch or care for them when they normally wouldn’t

Written by West Hill Animal Clinic


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