Cats can instinctively hide their pain
Consistently using a standard scale can help you spot pain that cats may be hiding.1
Feline Acute Pain Scale1
Not bothered by touch to wound or surgical site
Interested in surroundings
Less interested in surroundings, even withdrawn
May or may not react to touch to wound or surgical site
Doesn't engage in normal routine
Loss of normal brightness of eyes, squinting
Lays curled up or sits tucked up
Aggressive response when painful area is touched
Intensive grooming of painful area
Growls, yowls or hisses when unattended
May bite or chew at wound or surgical site
Reacts aggressively to any touch; pulls away
May be unresponsive or unaware of surroundings
Receptive to care (i.e., too uncomfortable to pull away)
May be rigid to avoid painful movement
Adapted from reference
*Reassess analgesic plan
Help cat owners recognize the signs of postsurgical pain
Let your clients know the signs of pain they should watch for once they get home. Advise them to contact you if they answer yes to any of the following questions.
- Does the surgical incision look red or inflamed?
- Is your cat less interested in playing?
- Is your cat protecting, licking or biting the surgical site?
- Is your cat hiding?
- Are your cat’s eyes less bright than usual? Does the cat seem to be squinting?
- Does your cat growl, hiss or moan when left alone, petted or moved?
- Is your cat eating less than usual?
- Does your cat’s coat look dull or matted?
- Is your cat purring more than usual for no apparent reason?
- Is your cat shedding more than usual?
- Is your cat unusually silent?
- Has your cat been urinating or defecating outside of its litter box?