Published On: Thu, Mar 3rd, 2016

25 Signs Your Cat Is Actually In Pain, According To Science

All cat owners know that cats only have three modes: 1) doesn’t care you exist, 2) purring cat cuddle time and 3) devil incarnate.

But animal experts know that the royal fur balls put up a really good poker face and, contrary to their apparent apathy toward life, our feline friends actually do feel pain. They just don’t show it.

In an attempt to crack the mystery that is the household cat, two researchers from the University of Lincoln consulted with 19 veterinary scientists from around the world to figure out the subtle ways cats tell us they’re hurting.

Their results were recently published in the scientific journal PLOS One, bringing all of humanity one step closer to finally understanding these totally lovable fur friends. 

The researchers uncovered two signs that are “sufficient” for assessing a cat’s pain, meaning their presence alone indicates that the cat is in pain.

For example, if you’ve noticed that Mr. Bigglesworth has stopped grooming himself — an activity that typically occupies about half of an adult cat’s day — that could mean he’s experiencing at least low levels of pain.

Cats are notorious for not showing that they are in pain,” Caroline Fawcett, chairman of Feline Friends, an organization that supported the research, said in a university press release. “And the more we can find out what the signals are, then the sooner we can get them to the vets for diagnosis and treatment.”

So when your cat starts acting a little funny, don’t brush it off as a weird quirk.

Below, 25 tell-tail signs that could indicate your precious pet is actually in pain:

1. Absence of grooming

2. Lameness

3. Difficulty jumping

4. Abnormal gait

5. Reluctant to move

6. Reaction to palpation

7. Hiding

8. Playing less

9. Appetite decrease

10. Overall activity decrease

11. Less rubbing toward people

12. Change in general mood

13. Change in overall temperament

14. Hunched posture

15. Shifting of weight

16. Licking a particular body region

17. Lower head posture

18. Blepharospasm (involuntary blinking or spasm of the eyelids)

19. Change in form or feeding behavior

20. Avoiding bright areas

21. Growling

22. Groaning

23. Eyes closed

24. Straining to urinate

25. Tail twitching

Read the entire study, “Behavioural Signs of Pain in Cats: An Expert Consensus,” here.

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