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Is my cat in pain?

Did you know that according to research by Boehringer Ingelheim and the Feline Advice Bureau; more than two thirds of cats over six years old suffer with chronic pain that goes un-noticed by their owners (1,4)?

This is because, unlike dogs, cats only display very subtle signs that can be difficult to pick up and are sometimes just attributed to old age.

The most common causes or chronic pain in cats are usually attributed to joint problems.

As owners, you are the best person to spot pain in your cat. If you are worried that your cat might be suffering, here are some signs you can look out for (2):

  • They no longer wish to jump up to their favourite spots in the house. This may start as just hesitation to jump, and may progress to them not wanting to jump whatsoever.
  • They are sleeping more than they used to.
  • They have stopped grooming themselves properly and their coat is not as well maintained as it used to be.
  • They may groom one spot excessively.
  • They have become more reluctant to be touched in certain places or picked up. This could be avoidance of human touch or aggression when you try to touch them.
  • They have stopped using the litter tray as they find it hard to climb in to it. You may also find that they stop using the cat flap.

Here is a good video that shows the top signs of pain in cats.(3)


If you notice any of these signs do not hesitate to bring them up with the vet at your yearly check up, or schedule an appointment if you are really concerned. Your vet can ask you further questions related to chronic pain, as well as gather other information to find out if any other habits have changed. They can then give your cat a full examination and decide on a course of action. This could involve:

  • Ruling out other possible causes of the signs your cat is showing.
  • Taking a blood or urine sample to check organs like the liver and kidneys. This can help rule out other causes of signs and help decide which treatments are appropriate for your cat.
  • Taking x-rays, if the clinical exam reveals that a particular joint is affected.
  • A treatment trial. This involves trying a course of pain relieving medication and seeing if it has an effect on your cat.
  • A weight loss regime. Maintaining a lean healthy weight is very important if your cat has joint problems.

What can I do to help my cat?

There are many things that you as an owner can do to keep your cat comfortable as they get older. Here is a short list of things you can start with:

  • Schedule an appointment with your vet to discuss the signs you have spotted and work with your vet to decide on the best plan for your cat
  • Buy litter trays with lower sides so they are easier to get in to.
  • Try and reduce your cats’ weight if they are overweight.
  • Provide steps to their favourite places so they don’t have to jump.