December 2010 Issue

Searching for Signs of Pain in Your Cat

Cats are notoriously adept at hiding discomfort. But alert owners can help veterinarians pinpoint problems. Here’s how.

Is there a clear way that we can tell that a cat is in pain? According to Andrea Looney, DVM, a senior lecturer in anesthesiology at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals, "We look at two categories of clinical signs — physiologic and behavioral. The physiologic signs include such indicators as heart rate, temperature, respiratory rate, blood pressure and the levels of certain stress hormones in the blood. "But these indicators are not as reliable as the behavioral signs," she continues. "Each cat is an individual, and we try to look at how they normally behave and how that behavior is different when they come in with complaints.

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