Is My Cat in Pain? 9 Signs to Look For in Your Pet

#3: They start having accidents outside the litter box.

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One of the challenges of living with furry friends is that they can’t always tell you when they’re not feeling well. It’s always a concern when your cat acts “a little weird,” but cats are known for behaving oddly in general. So how do you know if your cat is in pain?

The important thing is to consider what’s normal—and not normal—for your specific cat. Something that might be a sign of pain in one cat may be a normal and everyday behavior for another cat. You know your cat best.

Signs of Pain in Cats

You should be concerned if you see your cat exhibiting the following behavior, especially if it’s out of character for them:

  1. They may appear restless. The pain may make it difficult for them to get comfortable, so they may pace around or fidget. They might lie down, and then get right back up, over and over again.
  2. Their personality changes. They might abruptly seem less playful, less social, or more aggressive.
  3. They stop eating and drinking. Some cats run to their bowl when you feed them. If your cat normally does this, but suddenly has no interest in eating, that may be a sign that they’re not feeling well.
  4. They have accidents outside the litter box. Cats are normally pretty diligent about using their litter boxes. It’s always a red flag when your cat starts missing the box or not making it to their box in time. Accidents outside the litter box may also be a sign of worms.
  5. They stop grooming themselves. You might notice their fur looking more matted.
  6. They sleep more or less than usual. If your cat is normally rambunctious, you might notice that they’re suddenly spending more time curled up under your bed. On the other hand, some cats may seem to sleep less because the pain is bad enough to keep them awake.
  7. Some cats may “vocalize” their pain. Your cat may try to tell you how they’re feeling the best way they know how: meowing, growling, and hissing. They might even purr when you don’t expect it (that’s a self-soothing technique).
  8. You might see the pain on their face. Some cats are more expressive than others, but you might see your cat squint, grimace, or stare vacantly.
  9. They might cling to the floor. If your cat is having pain in their joints, for example, they might avoid climbing or jumping to higher spots. They might also hover close to the ground when walking.

What to Do If Your Cat Is in Pain

If your cat is showing any of these signs of pain, or they are just acting “different” in general, it’s always a good idea to contact your veterinarian. The only way to know if something serious is causing their pain is to get it checked out by a professional. If it’s anything concerning, your cat can get treatment—and get back to sunbathing peacefully on your windowsill.