First of all, cats are not small dogs, so it is sometimes very difficult to determine if cats are in pain because, as both prey and predator, they're very good at hiding signs of pain. So a veterinarian is the best person to make this decision.
Some signs that you will see can be difficulty jumping up on things, perhaps something that they used to jump up on, and going up and down stairs. Sometimes they may have behavior changes that lead to decreased grooming or a decrease in certain activities they like. Also, sometimes they might have increased vocalization or even go the opposite way and start hiding.
It's difficult because we need to know exactly what's causing the pain, and a veterinarian is best suited for this task.
Veterinarians are trained to look for certain visual clues, and they know the anatomy and how to properly palpate in certain areas to determine if the cat is having any pain.
A lot of the same conditions that cause pain in people, dogs, and other animals will also cause pain in cats. A lot of the nerve pathways are exactly the same, so things like arthritis, cancers, gastrointestinal problems, or any type of injury can lead to pain. Acupuncture and specific cat medications are recommended to treat their pain.
Cats are very unique in that they do not respond well to almost all non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. Therefore, we have to rely on other medications. For example, we'll sometimes use gabapentin, which is a pain medication that works through the nerve pathway, and it's also very good for calming some cats that may be a little bit over-anxious, either due to their personality or due to the pain that they're having. There is a new medication called Solensia, which is a safe FDA-approved medication that's been licensed for the treatment of osteoarthritis in cats. It works much like the antibodies to help neutralize some of these pain signals. We are very excited to offer this medication now in our hospital.
The most important thing is we need to make sure that it's diagnosed and assessed and that we have a pain medication plan that will be reasonable and easy for the owner to administer and is safe for the cat.
If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (480) 614-9500, or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media https://www.facebook.com/HorizonAnimalHospital.