Cats tend to be such stoic creatures; they rarely cry out or whimper when they're in pain. Despite their silence, however, cats can experience intense pain after an injury or surgery or when they're ill. Some of the signs to watch for are hiding; growling, hissing and lashing out when touched; and rapid shallow breathing. If you suspect your cat is in pain, contact your veterinarian immediately. There are several common pain relievers that are safe and cause minimal side effects in cats if administered or prescribed by your veterinarian.
Buprenorphine is a synthetic opiate that acts quickly and provides pain relief for a variety of conditions. Its most common side effect is mild euphoria that causes purring, kneading and rubbing.
Fentanyl is an opiate that works the same way as morphine. The patch provides continuous delivery of pain relief for cats after surgery or injury and is also helpful for cancer patients. Fentanyl can cause respiratory depression (not breathing adequately) in some cats, and the adhesive on the back of the patch sometimes causes skin irritation.
Tramadol is also an opiate. It can be used to relieve both post-surgical and chronic pain. Side effects may include upset stomach, constipation and decreased heart rate. After long-term use, cats need to be weaned off Tramadol. Taper the dose down over a few weeks rather than stopping it abruptly.
Traumeel is a homeopathic remedy that can relieve the pain of acute trauma and arthritis. It's available in tablet, liquid and ointment forms.
This homeopathic remedy provides pain relief for muscle strain, bruising and soft tissue damage. Most health food stores sell homeopathic remedies. Let the Arnica pellet dissolve on your cat's tongue or dissolve it in a glass with four ounces of spring water, stir 10 times and give ½ teaspoon to your cat. You can give another ½ teaspoon every 15 minutes if necessary.
Acupuncture is an effective pain reliever for cats, and since cats are not phobic about needles the way some humans are, most actually enjoy their treatments.