Cats are real experts at hiding pain. Even if the animals are sick, people often hardly notice it for a long time. It is assumed that this behavior is based on primal instincts. In the wild ancestors of our pets, hiding weaknesses from conspecifics and larger animals was essential for survival, it is assumed in articles about this phenomenon.
So how can you tell as early as possible that a cat is not doing well? One method is to look closely at the animal's facial expression. A method was developed at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Montreal, Canada, which is now used by veterinarians. It became known as the "Feline Grimace Scale" and is now considered a useful tool for treating animals and measuring painkillers.
The German term "Painful Face" describes what it's all about: In the face of cats - and also in the case of other animals such as rabbits - you can actually see whether the animals are suffering. At the time, cat faces were filmed in Montreal and the recordings measured. The facial expressions of sick and healthy animals were compared.
To recognize and evaluate a "pain face" look at the animal's ears, eyes, mouth, whiskers, and head position. A healthy cat holds its head erect, ears forward, muzzle rounded, and whiskers hanging loosely from the head.
The facial expression changes as the pain increases: the ears stand sideways or are even flat in the case of severe pain. The eyes become narrower, the mouth appears tense or oval. The whiskers also stand straight and taut from the head or are even flattened downwards. If the cat crouches and keeps its head low, this can be a sign of severe pain.
Recognizing a "face of pain" is not easy and even veterinarians need training for it. But many people know their cat very well. If you look regularly at the animal's face, changes can be noticed - no matter how hard the cat tries to show as little weakness as possible.
Sources: Nature, Fressnapf Friends, Vetline, Vet Dumhart, Felinegrimacescale.com
Read at stern: When others go on vacation, Elke Pastor comes. She feeds the cats, waters the houseplants, sleeps on the guest couch. Traveling with a house sitter.