Pain in cats can be particularly difficult to detect. Discreet by nature, the feline generally shows little suffering. The first signs of discomfort due to osteoarthritis in cats are through sometimes subtle changes in behavior, which owners are often best able to detect.
Behavior changes related to pain in cats
A cat’s predatory instinct frequently causes it to hide its pain, which can delay its management. Certain changes in his habits can still alert.
Pain can cause reluctance to move. A cat with osteoarthritis limits movement as the disease progresses. This may be normal behavior in the event of a aged cat, but this one being particularly susceptible to develop osteoarthritis, monitoring is essential, whatever the age of the animal.
Your cat is no longer playing
A lack of enthusiasm for the games that your cat usually likes may indicate difficulty moving or a change in mood. Both of these signs potentially indicate pain. If your pet is no longer interested in their favorite games, talk to your vet, especially if the change in behavior is sudden.
His coat is tarnished
This toilet ritual is essential for cats and often attests to their state of health. When the animal changes its habits, it may indicate suffering or a stressful situation. Painful joints can thus push him to shorten or space his toilet, which alters the appearance of his hair, less smooth and less shiny. Conversely, a cat in pain may also compulsively lick the painful area.
Your animal is less cuddly
If you find that your cat is less cuddly and hissing, spitting, scratching or biting when you try to touch it, investigate the cause. Chronic pain from osteoarthritis in cats can affect their mood and sociability, causing them to become aggressive, especially if you touch the painful area, on purpose or not. Watch out for her attitudes when you approach the hand, but do not insist if you feel it on the defensive.
A change in his eating habits
A pet that stops feeding or eats too little always requires professional advice. Severe pain can also cause loss of appetite, regardless of its location. If you notice that your cat is eating little or losing weight, do not wait to see your veterinarian.
Osteoarthritis in cats: physical signs of suffering
When the pain caused by osteoarthritis in cats intensifies to become chronic, it becomes more noticeable. The manifestations remain discreet despite everything, except extreme pain, do not wait any longer: talk to your veterinarian at the slightest suspicion.
A change in the way he walks
Joint disease, osteoarthritis of the cat hinders its mobility and can generate a more or less visible lameness. If you notice that your pet is limping on a recurring basis or if it has difficulty stepping over its litter box, a consultation is necessary to find the cause.
Your animal does not or hardly jumps anymore
If your cat, used to perching high up, prefers low locations, give details of his behavior and how he moves. Are there places he avoids, places he liked that he no longer climbs? By abandoning high positions, he can spare himself from movements that make him suffer. You will likely find the same cautious behavior when playing or moving around.
Your cat flees, hides or isolates itself
If the cat is by nature an independent animal, excessive isolation tends to indicate a problem. Unless this behavior is usual in your animal, detail its behavior. If you see it less or if it leaks when you approach, consult. The same is true if you find him prostrate in nooks he usually does not venture into.
Your cat growls or moans
Grunts, meows and purrs are part of the cat language. They are often complex to decode, remain mysterious, and can indicate pain as well as anger or contentment. To detect an anomaly, take particular account of the change: a cat which starts to moan suddenly and in a repeated way must alert. Just like a cat used to expressing himself who, conversely, stops communicating!
A cat that suffers from osteoarthritis reveals it more through changes in behavior than through complaints. This is why the monitoring of his master is essential: detected as soon as they appear, these tiny variations in attitude can allow your veterinarian to take charge of his pain as soon as possible.
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Article reviewed and validated by veterinarian Dr. Michèle Gorissen
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