Cat In Pain

6 Ways to Tell if Your Cat is in Pain

Dr. Kellen Phillips

Mar 27, 2023

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If you’re a cat owner, you’re probably aware of what constitutes normal behavior for your cat. But did you know that many cats hide their pain and won’t show you through changes in their behavior? Understanding when a cat is in pain can be very difficult, even for seasoned cat owners.

With the help of the guide below, you should have a better idea of how to recognize pain in your cat. Take a look at this list and see if it can help you narrow down whether or not your cat could be in pain.


Hiding is the most common sign of pain in cats. Since cats don’t like for their human family members to see their pain, they try to hide away in places where you may not always look for them. If your cat is in pain, you may find her tucked up under the bed, hiding in a pile of laundry, or somewhere else in your home.

Try to coax your cat out of hiding with her favorite treats. If she refuses to budge, she may be in a lot of pain. If she does come out, she may still be hurting, but you should monitor her to see if she returns to her hiding spot quickly or not.


Aggression may be seen along with pain in some cats. If your cat has an injured back leg, for example, she may become very defensive and lash out when you try to touch that leg. If you attempt to pick her up to take her to the veterinarian, she may lash out and try to bite or scratch you. This type of aggression is common with pain.

Cats who become suddenly aggressive with no visible cause may also be in pain, or they could be sick. Never take sudden, unexplained aggression lightly; always go to the vet or emergency vet as soon as possible for this symptom.


Yowling is not commonly seen in cats with pain, unless that pain is extreme. If your cat is in a significant amount of pain to the point where she is crying or yowling, or otherwise making vocalizations that are abnormal for her, then this means something is seriously wrong.

Cats who are yowling in pain need to be seen by an emergency vet immediately. Don’t wait to take your cat to the vet if she is suffering this much. Even if you can’t see the problem, there could be something going on internally that is causing her to hurt this badly.


Pacing is often seen in cats who are hurting due to joint pain. When cats have severe joint pain and arthritis, they are unable to get comfortable, and so they may pace for a long while until they become so tired they can’t avoid laying down anymore. Additionally, stomach upset and nausea may also lead to pacing behavior in cats.

Some cats may also pace from anxiety or when they are in heat. If your cat is pacing and you’re not sure why, or if you suspect there’s a good chance she is pacing due to pain, take her to the vet or emergency vet right away.

Appetite Loss

Appetite loss is seen with most problems relating to feline health. If your cat has lost her appetite and this behavior continues for more than a day, you should take her to the vet to find out what’s wrong. Of course, if you have recently changed her food, this could be the culprit instead.

Watch for other signs that she is in pain along with appetite loss, too. If your cat exhibits this symptom with others on this list, then you may be able to narrow down pain as the cause. Your vet will help you figure out from there what could be causing your cat to hurt.


Although less common in cats than dogs, panting may sometimes be associated with pain as well. If your cat is panting and you don’t know the reason, there is a chance she could be hurting.

Panting is also seen along with nausea in cats. A cat who is panting without being overheated may be feeling a wide variety of underlying symptoms, so it is important to pay attention to other signs to determine what’s going on with her.

VEG is Here if Your Cat is in Pain

As you can see, there are many potential signs you may witness that can help you to determine if they are in pain.. Although most cats will do everything they can to hide signs of their pain, some may be unable to do so for a variety of reasons.

If you know or suspect your cat is in pain, go to the vet or emergency vet right away. The sooner you get to the bottom of your cat’s pain issue, the easier it will be to resolve the problem and help your pet to feel better faster. Contact VEG by calling one of our locations. With locations all over the country, we have emergency veterinarians available 24/7 to help guide you in the best direction and make sure your cat receives the care they need.