Written by David Reich — Fact checked by Piet Hellemans, DVM
What this post will teach you:
Regardless of what is causing your cat to be in pain, don’t just self-diagnose it. Don’t give your cat painkillers intended for human consumption either. Always consult with your vet.
If you already know the reason why your cat is in pain there are some home remedies you can try under the guidance of your vet.
Cats and pain
It is said that cats have nine lives. So as responsible pet owners, let us make sure as many of them are pain-free.
Whether jumping from a tall tree or a cushioned sofa, cats rarely get injured. This is because of their highly flexible bones and ligaments that give them a unique reflex and protect them from fatal accidents and injury.
Nevertheless, cats are prone to different kinds of pain that changes their behavior. Sometimes, pain could be the root cause of anxiety or aggression in cats.
This blog post could help you to understand about causes, signs of pain, and possible ways to address them on time.
What signs to look for when your cat is in pain?
Cats are presumably the most independent pets. And that could also be the reason they behave in a certain way to express their pain.
Some pain could be chronic but could be slow to react physically. Some could be milder but could cause more discomfort. However, in any case, let us discuss some of the most common signs that you can observe when your cat is in pain.
- prolonged hiding in unusual places at home,
- reluctance to use the litter box,
- negligence in self-grooming,
- not showing interest in being petted, or staying aloof,
- lack of appetite
- Lack of interest in their favorite games
- excessive drinking
- Sudden weight loss or weight gain,
- Increase in vocalizations, meowing, crying
- change in sleeping patterns
- increased aggression due to pain,
- frequently trying to use the litter box, but shows signs of ache or difficulty while doing its job,
- unusual hair fall, developing a patch on the skin
Pain in cats could be caused due to several reasons. An underlying indication of a disease or infection, deficiency, insect bites, aging, getting entrapped in a window or door, or even an overload of stress leads to pain or discomfort.
Some common diseases that cause extreme discomfort and pain in cats are:
- urinary tract infection (UTI),
- kidney disease,
- bladder stones,
- feline bronchitis,
- respiratory problems,
- nutrient malabsorption,
- and hyperthyroidism.
Moreover, you know how your cats normally behave. What makes them happy? Why do they hide? Which treat or game can alter their mood? So watch their behavior and pay attention to small changes that you don’t want to ignore.
Why can’t I give my cat human painkillers?
Human painkillers could be toxic and fatal in small animals. The potency in these drugs that are used by humans cannot be metabolized by pets. Especially opioids or over the counter pain relief medication could leave adverse effects on your companions.
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Some pet owners give their pets aspirin for pain relief. But it should be very rarely used under medical observations. Because cats do not metabolize aspirin smoothly. Thus it could lead to stomach upset or other complications.
Keep in mind to avoid Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) such as Tylenol or ibuprofen. These could lead to fatal consequences for your beloved pet.
What to do if I notice my cat is in pain?
Once you have observed changes in your cat’s behavior and sure that pain is somehow bothering them, immediately consult your vet.
Do not administer over the counter pain medications to your pets without analyzing the underlying causes of the pain.
Some vets are open to considering alternative therapies along with traditional methods. For example, massage therapy, acupuncture, eastern medicine (that approaches well-being as a seamless flow of energy).
What can I give my cat for pain relief?
First and foremost, you need to find out what is causing your cat pain. The vet should have been able to advise you on that.
Pain relievers for cats should only be provided to cats under the care of a veterinarian.
Some herbs such as catnip, dandelion, hemp, licorice roots, and chamomile have been in use by pet owners.
Moreover, these are available in the form of treats and oils that can be easily administered along with food.
Here are some other pain relief suggestions:
If you cat is in pain because of arthritis
In cats, a proper diet will go a long way toward reducing chronic inflammation and discomfort.
Many overweight cats, for example, suffer from arthritis. Giving them food with a lower calorie density and a moderate amount of protein can help them lose weight while maintaining muscle mass and strength.
Excess body weight not only places excessive strain on arthritic joints, but it also encourages inflammation, which is at the root of the condition. Foods and supplements containing high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), can also help to relieve joint irritation and discomfort.
If your cat is in pain due to UTI
Cranberry juice is a well-known home cure for urinary tract infections in cats. UTI signs include peeing too much or too little, urinating outside of the litter box, and/or experiencing inflammation and discomfort during urination.
Of note, not all cranberry-based products are created equal, and experts are also discussing whether cranberry juice can treat urinary tract infections. However, it has been shown that it can ease some of the kitty’s suffering in the majority of situations.
Lack of Vitamins
Vitamin shortage may cause a variety of health problems. Vitamins can do wonders for your cat, even though they seem basic and overly plain. Vitamins can be added to food to enhance your cat’s natural immune response and help fight the cause of pain. Cat vitamins are generally safe but as with everything always contact the veterinarian first. It’s better to be safe than sorry.