If your cat is behaving strangely, you might be concerned that they’re in pain. It can be difficult to determine whether or not your cat is in pain because the signs are often subtle. If you’re concerned about your feline companion, here are some ways you can look out for indications that they are in pain.

Tips to Keep in Mind

When you are trying to determine whether or not your cat is in pain, here are some things you should keep in mind:

Cats tend to hide their pain. These signs might be quite subtle to you as a result.
Cats who are in pain are likely to lash out and bite, so be cautious approaching them.
If your cat is showing these signs of pain, do not simply medicate them. You must talk to your veterinarian first to determine and treat the source of the pain.

Signs a Cat is in Pain

Though cats tend to hide their pain, there are certain signs you can watch out for that they might be suffering. While these can be subtle, if you know your cat’s behavior well, you may have noticed something seems “off.” Here are some indications that your cat may be acting differently because they are in pain.


Cats who are in pain tend to lash out, biting and scratching people who get too close. It doesn’t matter whether it is their owner or a stranger. This is particularly true if someone touches or appears to be about to touch the painful area.

Changes in Breathing

If your cat is in pain, you might notice their breathing pattern becoming faster or more shallow. They may also start panting. The abdominal muscles and chest are involved in breathing, so you might observe them and see if you notice changes in movement in that part of the body.


Purring on its own is not an indication of a cat in pain, but when paired with other signs on this list, it may be. Cats purr both to indicate pleasure and to comfort themselves, so if your cat is purring in conjunction with these other signs, it may be that they are trying to soothe themselves from the pain.

Changes in Eyes

Eyes aren’t only the window to your cat’s soul; they can also help you determine if they’re in pain. Pain in the body can be indicated by dilated pupils, while eye pain can be indicated by constricted pupils, depending on the specific injury or disease. Squinting can also be indicative of pain. A bloodshot appearance can indicate eye pain.

Dietary Changes

If your cat is in pain, they may start eating or drinking less. If the source of the pain is in their mouth, they may end up dropping food or water out of their mouth when they’re trying to eat.

Changes in Grooming

Grooming is an important cat behavior, so if it appears your cat is grooming less, or grooming one area in particular excessively, they may be in pain.

Changes in Energy Levels

Is your cat sleeping more and running and jumping less? Are they hiding from you more often? Again, cats try to hide their pain, so they may choose to spend more time under your bed, in closets, or just generally out of your line of sight.

Changes in Mobility

If your cat is in pain, they may move less, or they may start moving differently to compensate for the pain. For example, they might limp, or move more slowly.

Changes in Bathroom Behavior

A cat with back pain often struggles to defecate because they cannot comfortably get into the necessary position, which can lead to constipation. Cats with joint pain often struggle to get into their litter boxes and therefore, start going outside of their box.


If your cat appears to be swollen anywhere on the body, it can indicate a painful condition.

Conditions That Can Cause Pain in Cats

  • Arthritis
  • Pancreas, stomach, bladder, or intestine inflammation
  • Kidney or bladder stones
  • Obstruction of the digestive tract or urethra
  • Ear infection
  • Cancer
  • Periodontal disease
  • Resorptive tooth lesions
  • Eye issues such as glaucoma
  • Feline Aortic Thromboembolism (FATE)

Any time you suspect that your cat is in pain, it’s important to bring them into your Fort Collins vet as soon as possible. We can help you determine the source of the pain and how to treat the underlying source, as well as how to properly manage the pain. Contact Countryside Animal Hospital for veterinary care in Fort Collins!