Is your cat in pain? Cat owners the world over are familiar with their pets' individual personalities. However, understanding what changes in their behavior mean may be difficult to understand. Now, scientists have identified 25 behavior signs displayed by cats which could indicate they're in pain.
The aim of this latest study was to collect and classify expert opinion on the possible behavioral signs in cats that denoted pain. These signs were classified as either "sufficient" or "necessary." Sufficiant means that their presence indicated that the cat was in pain; necessary means that the signs must be present to conclude the cat is in pain.
In the end, the researchers found 25 key sufficient signs. These included absence of grooming, hunched-up posture, avoiding bright areas, change in feeding behavior and difficulty to jump. However, they found no "necessary" signs. These results highlight that being able to evaluate a set of behaviors will be much more reliable than looking out for one single symptom.
"Both owners and veterinarians are clearly able to recognize many behavioral changes in cats which relate to pain," said Daniel Mills, one of the researchers, in a news release. "However, owners may not always recognize the clinical relevance of what they see. For example, they may view the changes as an inevitable part of natural aging and not report them to the vet as a concern, or at least not until the behaviors become quite severe. We hope that having an agreed list of more objective criteria, which relates to specific signs of pain, could improve the ability of both owners and vets to recognize it."
The findings are published in the journal PLOS One.
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