How to Know if your Cat is in Pain

Cats are exceptionally good at masking pain. If your fellow feline is under-the-weather, the signs may not seem apparent to you. It’s important to pay close attention to their actions, habits and behaviors to make sure that nothing appears to be out of the ordinary.

Cats learned to mask pain through natural selection. Over time they learned to hide pain from predators or potential mates, as it greatly increased their chance of survival.

Biting and scratching

Cats that are in pain are more likely to lash out at their owners, which means they’re more likely to bite and scratch. If you’re unlucky enough to touch a painful area on their body, they will lash out as well.

Heart, pulse and breathing changes

If your cat seems to be breathing in a faster, shallower way than normal, this may be an indicator that they’re in pain. Cats often have an increased heart and pulse rate as well. This rate speeds up if a painful area is touched or their body is moved. Talk to your vet about how to check and measure your cats heart or pulse rate.


This could mean a variety of things. Yes, cats do sleep a lot, but this doesn’t just mean napping. Is your cat eating a regular amount, do they seem to have a regular appetite? Another indication of lethargy is decreased grooming. While cats nap the most, they groom second, and if your cat doesn’t seem to be keeping up with its normal grooming routine, it could mean that they aren’t feeling the best.

Eye changes

The eye can be a really great way for you to know if your cat isn’t feeling well. If your cat has larger dilated pupils, chances are they’re experiencing pain elsewhere in the body. If your cat has smaller pupils, they may be experiencing eye pain. Squinting eyes can be another factor if your cat is in pain or not.


If your cat is experiencing pain, they’re likely to move around a lot less. Depending on the injury it may become difficult for your cat to defecate, which can cause other problems.


Don’t be fooled by this response in your cat. If they’re acting weird, or exhibiting some of the above symptoms, but they’re still purring, it doesn’t mean that you’re in the clear. Purring might actually increase if a cat is experiencing pain.

Be sure to be on the lookout for any odd behaviors or changes in mood from your cat. If they’re acting different than normal, and aren’t showing the same excitement for things like food or play, keep an eye on them, and consult your veterinarian if you have serious concerns.