Pain in aging cats

It is normal see changes in cats behaviour as they age. Of course, senior cats are more likely to take a relaxed approach to life than a playful young kitten would, it is important, however, to be aware of abnormal feline behaviour, especially those that arise from pain.

Behaviour that signal pain

The most common sign of pain seen in aging cats is a decrease in grooming and self-care, a healthy cat will go no longer than a few minutes without cleaning some part of its body.  One of the most common chronic pain ailments in cats in osteoarthritis (OA), this condition affects more than 90% of cats over the age of 10. Osteoarthritis can make twisting and turning very difficult for a cat, which result in decrease in self care.

If you notice your cat developing matted hair or flaky skin, make an appointment with your vet, as this can be an important early indication of pain.

Changes in litter tray behaviour

When a cat experiences lower back or hip pain it can be very difficult climbing in and out of their litter tray. A cat experiencing such pain will often go to the litter tray, but simply refuse to try to get into it. The cat may choose instead to defecate or urinate near the litter tray, letting us know that it understands this is the “toilet” but also letting us know that it is uncomfortable getting into the tray.

Other pain signals may include:

  • Not wanting to be picked up
  • Not wanting to be stroked
  • Hiding under the bed
  • Aggressive behaviour whilst being stoked.

Unfortunately, cats can’t tell us when there in pain so, if your cat displays any of the signs mentioned in this article, it is important to book an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.

By Gordon Roberts


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