Do Cats Ignore Pain?

As cat lovers, we are often in awe of our feline friends’ ability to seemingly shrug off pain. But have you ever wondered if cats truly ignore pain or if they just hide it well?

As a cat owner, you may have noticed that your kitty doesn’t always vocalize their discomfort and may even continue to play or purr despite an injury. But what’s really going on behind those big, beautiful eyes?

In this blog post, we will dive into the intriguing world of cats and pain. We’ll explore why cats might appear to ignore pain, whether they actually do, and how their pain tolerance compares to humans.

We’ll also discuss the subtle signs that indicate when a cat is in pain and offer tips for helping your furry friend feel more comfortable during times of discomfort.

So whether you’re a seasoned cat owner or simply curious about our feline friends’ unique relationship with pain, keep reading to uncover the truth about how cats experience and cope with discomfort.

What is Pain?

It’s a complex sensation that can be difficult to define. Pain is essentially an unpleasant physical or emotional feeling that is associated with tissue damage or the potential for tissue damage. It can be categorized into two types: acute and chronic.

Acute pain is a sudden, sharp pain that is typically caused by an injury or trauma. Chronic pain, on the other hand, is a long-term pain that persists for weeks, months, or even years. Both types of pain can be debilitating and affect a person’s quality of life.

Pain can also be categorized based on its source. Nociceptive pain is caused by tissue damage or inflammation and is typically localized to the area of the injury. Neuropathic pain, on the other hand, is caused by damage to the nervous system and can be felt in areas of the body that are not necessarily injured.

Cats, like humans and other animals, are capable of experiencing pain. However, because cats have evolved to hide their pain as a survival mechanism, it can be difficult for pet owners to detect when their cat is in discomfort. It’s crucial for cat owners to pay close attention to their pet’s behavior and seek veterinary care if they suspect their cat is in pain.

Some common indicators of pain in cats include changes in behavior such as hiding, loss of appetite, reluctance to move or play, and vocalizing excessively. These behaviors may be subtle and easy to miss, but they should not be ignored.

Ignoring pain in cats can lead to more serious health issues down the line. For example, if a cat is experiencing dental pain but continues to eat normally, they may develop a more severe dental issue that could require expensive and painful treatment. As responsible pet owners, it’s our duty to be aware of our cat’s behavior and seek veterinary care if we suspect they are experiencing any discomfort or pain.

Do Cats Feel Pain?

However, unlike humans who might groan or wince when experiencing discomfort, cats are masters at hiding their pain as a survival mechanism. This instinctual behavior dates back to their evolutionary history where any sign of weakness could make them vulnerable to predators.

As a responsible cat owner, it is important to keep a watchful eye on your furry friend and recognize any signs of pain or discomfort. Changes in behavior, such as increased agitation or aggression, decreased appetite, reluctance to move or play, vocalizing more than usual, or displaying an unusual posture or gait could all be indicators of pain in cats.

Ignoring these signs can have serious health consequences for your cat, as it may prevent early detection and treatment of underlying medical conditions. Therefore, it is essential to take action as soon as you suspect something is wrong.

But why do cats hide their pain? In the wild, any sign of weakness could make them an easy target for predators. So, they have evolved to suppress their pain as much as possible. Unfortunately, this means that by the time you notice any signs of pain in your cat, the condition could be quite advanced.

As a responsible cat owner, it’s important to regularly observe your pet’s behavior and seek veterinary care if you suspect anything out of the ordinary. Your veterinarian will help diagnose the underlying cause of your cat’s pain and provide appropriate treatment.

How Do Cats Express Pain?

Here’s a closer look at how cats express pain and what we can do to soothe their aches.

Behavioral Changes

When cats are hurting, they may act out of character. They could become irritable, withdrawn, or start avoiding human or pet interaction. Keep an attentive eye out for any significant deviations from your cat’s usual behavior as it could be a sign of distress.

Vocalization Patterns

Changes in vocalization patterns such as frequent or loud meowing, growling, or hissing when touched in certain areas can be an indication that your cat is experiencing pain. Pay attention to your cat’s communication cues and take swift action if you suspect they might be in discomfort.

Physical Symptoms

Cats tend to exhibit physical symptoms when they are hurting. They may limp or favor one side of their body, or over-groom in an attempt to distract themselves from the pain. Observe your cat’s movements and note any changes that could suggest discomfort.

Common Signs of Pain in Cats

However, cats are notorious for concealing their pain, making it challenging to identify when they’re feeling discomfort. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are some common signs of pain in cats that you can keep an eye out for:

Firstly, take note of any changes in your cat’s grooming habits. If they suddenly start over-grooming or stop grooming altogether, it could be a red flag that they’re experiencing pain. This is because grooming can cause discomfort if they have an injury or soreness.

Secondly, pay attention to your cat’s appetite and eating habits. If your cat is eating less than usual or has stopped eating altogether, it could be a sign that they’re not feeling their best. Keep an eye on their weight too as significant weight loss can indicate an underlying issue.

Thirdly, look out for changes in behavior. Cats in pain may become more irritable or aggressive than usual, or they may withdraw and become less active. They may also hide more often as a way to avoid being touched or disturbed due to their discomfort.

Lastly, physical changes can also indicate pain in cats. They may limp or favor certain limbs if they’re experiencing pain in their joints or muscles. You may also notice that they’re having difficulty jumping or climbing if they’re in pain.

Ignoring Pain Can Lead to Serious Health Issues

Unfortunately, ignoring pain in cats can lead to serious health issues.

While hiding pain may be a survival mechanism in the wild, in a domestic setting, it can be detrimental to your cat’s health. Dental pain, for example, can cause cats to stop eating or grooming themselves, leading to weight loss and skin problems. Chronic pain can also cause behavioral changes like aggression or avoiding human contact.

Ignoring pain can lead to delayed treatment and worsen underlying medical conditions. A cat’s pain can be an important diagnostic tool, so overlooking it can hinder a veterinarian’s ability to accurately diagnose and treat your pet.

Therefore, as responsible pet owners, we must be vigilant in detecting any signs of discomfort or pain in our feline friends. Be on the lookout for changes in appetite or litter box habits, reluctance to move or jump, increased vocalization, and changes in grooming behavior.


In conclusion, cats are not immune to pain and can experience it just like humans and other animals. However, their natural instinct is to conceal it as a survival mechanism, making it challenging for pet owners to detect when their feline friend is in distress. As cat parents, we must pay close attention to our pets’ behavior and seek veterinary care if we suspect they are in pain.

Some telltale signs of pain in cats include changes in behavior such as hiding, loss of appetite, reluctance to move or play, and excessive vocalization. These subtle behaviors may be easy to miss, but they should never be ignored.

Neglecting your cat’s discomfort can lead to more severe health issues down the road. Therefore, it is our responsibility as responsible pet owners to remain vigilant about our cat’s behavior and seek medical attention if we suspect any signs of discomfort or pain.

Moreover, cats express their pain through various behavioral changes such as altered grooming habits, eating patterns, physical symptoms like limping or over-grooming and vocalization patterns. As a result, it’s essential to take action immediately if you notice any unusual behavior from your furry companion.

Ignoring pain can lead to delayed treatment and worsen underlying medical conditions. So let’s prioritize our feline friend’s well-being by being proactive in detecting any signs of discomfort or pain.