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As a survival mechanism, cats hide their pain so other predators don’t see them as weak or vulnerable. This makes sense from an evolutional standpoint, but unfortunately, it can make things difficult for cat guardians. It’s a cat guardian’s worst nightmare: your cat is in pain and you don’t know what to do. What’s worse, maybe you don’t even know your cat is sick until it’s too late.


Your cat’s health depends on you, so it’s important not to miss any signs of a potential sickness. So, if your feline is hiding pain but needs medical attention, what are the signs you can look out? The golden rule is when your cat starts doing behavior that is unusual or out of character for them. Here are few to look out for.


Coughing could be a symptom of hairballs, allergies, asthma, tumors, heart disease, lung disease, contagious illnesses, or foreign bodies. Contact your veterinarian if the coughing lasts more than one day.

Gum Color is Off 

Gum’s should be a deep pink color. If you press your thumb to the gums, the color should return to pink within a couple seconds after. If your cat has very pale gums, they could be anemic, in shock or perhaps there is poor circulation. If your cat has bright red gums, they could be overheated or could be suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. Yellow gums could be a sign of jaundice.

Eating, Drinking, Urinating, and Defecating Less

Just like humans, cats who feel sick lose the desire to eat. But there is also a flip side: some illnesses can cause an increased appetite. For example, increased thirst and urination could indicate kidney disease or diabetes. If your cat has sudden and frequent attempts to urinate and only small amounts of urine are produced, your cat could be suffering from a urinary tract infection (especially if your cat is meowing and/or straining while using the litterbox). If you notice any of these signs, take your cat to the vet immediately. Urinary tract infections or blockages in cats could be a life-threatening emergency, a common illness in cats, especially males.

Check Temperature for Fever

You can use a rectal thermometer to check your cat’s temperature yourself, however, this may be best left to your veterinarian. 99.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit is a normal temperature range. Another over 102.5 is raised and over 103 degrees is feverish.

Acting Strange in General 

Cats will naturally groom themselves, but if they are in pain, they may not. For example, if their leg hurts, they may not groom the leg because it’s painful to move the leg. Another sign your cat may be in pain is if they skip out of their favorite activities such as playing laser or in general, they are less active. Your cat also may hide from you if they are sick or in pain.

When in Doubt, Call Your Vet

Better safe than sorry! If you are concerned by a behavior, get the advice of your veterinarian. Hopefully, nothing’s wrong, but if your cat is sick or is in pain, you will have caught it early because you were looking out for the signs. Since (sadly) cats are unable to communicate in our language, it’s up to us as their guardians to ensure their health.

If your cat is scared of going to the vet, check out these tips for how to make the experience a bit better. For litter box tips to keep your feline happy, check this One Green Planet article out.

Lead Image Source: AKuptsova/Pixabay