Pain Management in Cats

Cats and their medical needs are special. Vet to Pets is a fear free cat friendly clinic. When your cat is in the mobile hospital we pay attention to your cats needs. We recognize fear and pain and develop individual pain management protocols for your cat. Cats do not show that they are in pain. It is essential to learn how to recognize the signs, as a healthcare provider of your cat, we would like to help you learn how to recognize their signs of pain. If you feel your cat is in pain or behaving differently than usual please phone us, we are here to help.


Due to their evolution as a solitary, self-dependent species, cats are notoriously secretive in revealing discomfort and disabilities. The signs of pain are generally more subtle in cats than in dogs. We can safely predict that many medical procedures and all surgeries performed on cats are painful and pre-emptive analgesia is required. The most effective analgesic protocols are multi-modal. Combining drugs and therapies that influence different parts of the pain pathway results in improved efficacy and reduced risk of adverse effects. Frequent assessment for pain is critical, not so much to determine if analgesia should be used, but rather whether additional modalities should be incorporated, if dose adjustments are needed, and to determine an appropriate duration of treatment.

Pain assessment should be part of every physical examination and consultation, regardless of the presenting reason, even for young cats. While some objective signs
of pain can be determined by questioning owners and by repeatedly observing hospitalized cats, the most reliable assessment of the presence of pain is a return to normal behavior in response to analgesic therapy.

Potential signs of pain:

Have you noticed changes in your cat’s sitting or sleeping position? (e.g., lying flat out, difficulty settling down, hunched position)

Has there been a change in your cat’s sleeping or resting places? (or hiding in unusual places)

Has there been a change in your cat’s energy level? (i.e., more lethargic or more restless)

Has there been a change in your cat’s personality or attitude? (e.g., changes in interactions, irritability, wanting more attention or less attention)

Have there been changes in your cat’s hair coat? (e.g., matted hair, poor grooming)

Have you noticed a change in your cat’s facial expression? (e.g., staring, fixed gaze, dilated pupils, “squinting”)

Have there been any changes in your cat’s appetite or water consumption?

Does your cat lick or bite at a body part?

Is your cat more or less vocal than in the past? Are there changes in the type of vocalization?

Have there been changes in your cat’s litter box use? (including inappropriate elimination)

If you noticed any of the above signs in your cat please call us at Vet to Pets Mobile Veterinary Hospital for implementing an individual pain management protocol ideal for your cat.

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