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5 Ways to Easily Tell If Your Cat Is in Pain and Hiding It

How to Tell When Your Cat Is in Pain

If you have a cat, then you don't need to be told how cool they can be. But you may not realize that your cat may be so cool that he won't let on he's in pain, even if he's suffering badly.

To make sure that you can tell the difference between when your cat is playing it cool and possibly covering up for real pain, here are five telltale signs that your cat may be experiencing pain, instead of just fooling around.

1—Biting and Scratching

Regardless of how your cat normally behaves, when he is in pain his tendency to lash out at familiar and unfamiliar targets will go up. If he normally get into scraps with your other pets, neighborhood cats, or lash out at strangers, this behavior will increase when he's in pain.


We generally associate a cat's purrs with contentment, but purring also can signify stress, anxiety, or even pain. There's no need to examine your cat from head to toe for injury the next time you find him purring contentedly, but if he is purring along with any of the other behaviors on this list, it may be a sign that he is in discomfort.

3—Shortness of Breath

Cats who are in pain generally breathe faster and more shallowly than normal. In some instances, he even may pant. Whether your cat seems to be in pain or not, shortness of breath is typically a solid indicator that a trip to the veterinarian is in order.

4—Change in Your Cat's Eating, Sleeping, Grooming

A cat in pain may lose his appetite, may sleep considerably more than normal or not at all, and may quit or dramatically reduce the amount of time he spends cleaning himself. Any loss in appetite, sleep troubles, or grooming issues also are worth a trip to the veterinarian.

5—Changes in the Eyes

Pain also can be indicated either by a constricting or dilating of your cat's pupils. Pain in the eyes themselves is usually accompanied by the constricting of a cat's pupils, while pain elsewhere in the body can be accompanied by dilated pupils. Also, squinting behavior and bloodshot eyes are indicators of pain in cats.

Cats Give Away How They're Feeling

No matter how cool your cat is, and no matter how good at not letting on that he's in pain, he will probably show one or more of these five behaviors when he's hurting. Pay attention for these telltale signs, as pain can often be an indicator of an injury or a disease that calls for treatment immediately.

About the Author

Dr. Evan Ware

Dr. Evan Ware is a veterinary practitioner in Phoenix, Arizona. He received both his undergraduate degree in microbiology and his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from The Ohio State University.

Dr. Ware is currently the Medical Director of University Animal Hospital (VCA) and is also the owner of two other hospitals, including Laveen Veterinary Center and Phoenix Veterinary Center. His areas of expertise include orthopedic medicine and surgery, veterinary oncology and chemotherapy, and general and advanced soft-tissue surgery.