Is Your Cat in Pain? Understanding Cat Postures and Other Cat Body Languages

August 4, 2021

Lack of interest in food, eyes are squinting or sitting still and hunched up? These are some cat postures and body language to look for if you think your feline friend is in pain.

Knowing if your cat is in pain can be a bit tricky and challenging. It is normal for cats to mask their pain, making it difficult for both the vets and pet owners to understand where the discomfort is coming from. Most commonly for older cats, chronic pain is more often to be misdiagnosed.

As much as we like to consider our little fur companion as a natural predator, cats can also behave like prey. To avoid exhibiting vulnerability, they may be keeping their pain hidden.

Knowing and understanding why cats are in pain can seem a little bit tricky, even for vets. Notice when you visit your vets, you can sense that your cat is uncomfortable. Being out of their comfort zone, the cat’s anxiety rises, and our vets will have a more challenging time diagnosing what is wrong with your cat.

Vets cannot rely on the physiological signs when you have an anxious cat. Instead, they depend on how they behave within their comfort zone, your home. This means half of the diagnosis will be coming from you, so be a responsible fur parent and be observant.

Is Your Cat in Pain Understanding Cat Postures and Other Cat Body Languages
Keep your cat healthy by understanding the reason behind their unusual cat posture and body languages

Body Language 101

A cat’s body language is robust; knowing the most common and understanding the reason behind your cat’s posture is essential. As part of being a responsible cat parent, you should not confuse some of their behavior into something you have to worry about. 

Most Common Signs to Worry About:

Limping or holding a limb up with no intention of using it – It may seem very obvious, but this is the most common sign pet owners overlook. Different reasons may cause this, from arthritis to inflammation or injury. The best way to notice this is when your cat begins to walk slower than usual limps after a jump or avoids jumps entirely.

  • They are crouched or hunched – when they are in an extreme loaf position, with their back curved higher than usual, this could indicate severe abdominal or chest pain.
  • Reaction to palpation – to assess the level of pain post-surgery, vets usually touch the wounded area. You can also do this at home. Gently touch parts of your cat’s body and notice their reaction. If they hiss, flinch or bite – it’s an indication that they are in pain.
  • Unwilling to move. If your cat suffers from osteoarthritis, it is most likely that they are reluctant to move. If they are around other pets and show an inability to move, as usual, it’s time to go to the vet. 

Aside from cat postures, part of their body language is facial expressions. Some cats will show an obvious change in facial expressions, such as grimaces. However, there are more subtle signs that cat owners usually miss, such as :

  • Your cat’s eyes may squint or close.
  • Enlarged pupil mixed with furrowed brow
  • Their ears may appear flattened or squeezed towards their sides.
  • Their mouth, nose, and cheeks may appear tensed and compressed.

Other important signs to look for:

  • Eating and drinking less
  • Hiding away
  • Increased irritability
  • Licking, biting, or scratching certain parts of its body
  • Avoiding social interaction
  • Frequent urination
  • Sleeping more

This list of signs to watch out for can be very useful. But it can only help you understand the reason behind their unusual cat postures. Proper diagnosis and treatment are necessary, so it’s better to have them checked.

What Can You Do at Home?

What you shouldn’t do is to aid them with over-the-counter medications unless your vet advised it. Always be on the lookout for unusual behavior; prevention is always better than a cure.

Keep them active by giving them something to play with, like an interactive cat toy. Do they like to stretch and sharpen their claws? Think about purchasing a stylish scratcher, and this is best if your goal is to improve your cat’s posture. Finally, make them feel safe and cozy by letting them snuggle on a playful yet comfortable hammock.

Report any significant behavioral changes, as this is your responsibility as a fur parent. This will help their diagnosis and better treat any pain your cat is feeling. 

As a fur parent, you want your cat to live their life the healthiest and the happiest. Knowing what causes their discomfort, whether it is your cats’ posture or facial expression, being aware of their body language will be beneficial for them. #felinefriend #cutecats #stylishcatscratcher #catposture #catbodylanguage

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