September is a month focused on pet health and when it comes to our kitties, sometimes knowing when they are in pain is not always easy. So, what can we do to ensure we know when our cats are not ‘feline’ themselves?
Cats are notorious for being pros at hiding pain. It’s a trait they originally developed to keep predators at bay. Think about the last time you heard your cat cry or whine in pain. Unless you stepped on an unsuspecting paw or tail, probably never.
Their lack of communication can make it especially tricky to know when they are not feeling well. In fact, your cat may already be extremely ill by the time it shows any signs of pain or discomfort. However, as your cat’s owner, paying attention to any changes in their normal behaviors and activity levels will be the first indicator if your cat is in pain.
Since cats are not very audible when it comes to pain, their main instinct is to hide. If you notice your cat hiding more often and sleeping more than usual, this can be a sign that something just isn’t quite right. While age can play a factor in this, it’s important to make note of any abnormal sleepiness and bring your cat into the vet at least once a year to catch any illnesses before they become apparent.
Cats spend about 50 percent of their time grooming themselves. If your cat’s coat looks unkempt or becomes matted, it is often due to not feeling well. Alternatively, over-grooming can be indicative of stress or other outside factors, not necessarily pain, but will require further action from you to help your kitty feel more comfortable.
Cats who become more reluctant to climb, jump, and play may be experiencing pain that involves their joints or limbs. Weight can be one of the main causes of joint pain, including arthritis. This excess strain leads to discomfort and can turn your once athletic cat into a cat who becomes reluctant to even jump up on the couch with you.
One of the easiest signs to spot in a cat who isn’t feeling well is one that has a noticeable loss of appetite. Eating little to nothing could be the result of several issues, anywhere from tooth pain to running a fever. Being familiar with your cat’s overall health and normal eating routines should help you in determining whether or not their appetite loss is a cause for concern.
Encouraging play and other mentally stimulating activities that aren’t too rough can be great ways to keep your cat healthy and feeling good. Making sure they have safe places to hide away in and sleep when they aren’t feeling social can help them feel comfortable during down time.
Sometimes a change in your cat’s environment or switching up their diet can help manage your cat’s pain. Water and food bowls that are in easily accessible places, making sure to not overfeed your cat, and routine brushings are all things you can do at home to make your cat feel better.
Older cats may need additional pain management in the form of medications or treatments. Supplements can also help boost their immune system and provide joint support to ensure that they continue being pain-free as they go about their day. Additional treatments, such as holistic medicines, massage therapy and more, have also been beneficial in managing chronic pain. Ask your vet what and how much is right for your cat before trying something new.
You know your cat better than anyone, so letting your vet know of any abnormal changes will ensure a proper diagnosis and a return to their normal cat-ty lives!
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