Behavioral signs of Pain in cats

20 June 2017 – News


A study meant to reach a consensus between veterinary experts in feline medicine on the core signs sufficient for pain (sufficient to indicate pain when they occur, but not necessarily present in all painful conditions) and necessary for pain (necessary in the presence of pain, but not always indicative of pain) was recently published.

The study consisted of four rounds of questions and evaluation with nineteen participants. Agreement was considered to be established when 80% of the experts concurred with the same opinion.

Twenty-five signs were considered sufficient to indicate pain, but no single sign was considered necessary for it:

  • Lameness, difficulty to jump, abnormal gait, reluctance to move, playing less;
  • Reaction to palpation, withdraw/hiding, absence of grooming, eyes closed;
  • Appetite decrease, overall activity decrease, less rubbing toward people;
  • General mood, temperament, hunched up posture, avoiding bright areas;
  • Shifting of weight, licking a particular body region, lower head posture;
  • Blepharospasm, change in form of feeding behavior, growling, groaning, straining to urinate and tail flitching.

These signs may help both vets and owners perform an initial evaluation of the pain status of cats in their care.