What Can I Give My Cat For Pain? Signs Your Cat's In Pain & How To Help

Is your cat in pain? No one likes seeing their cat in pain. Check out the symptoms of cat pain and different medications and therapies to help.

Aly Walansky

Updated November 10, 2022 • Published February 05, 2021

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What Can I Give My Cat For Pain? Signs Your Cat's In Pain & How To Help

There’s few things worse than seeing our babies in pain — and when a pet is in pain, they can’t exactly explain what is wrong or where it hurts. But regardless of the causes or symptoms, we just want to make them feel better. So what can you give a cat for pain? Of course, the obvious solution would be to try what works with us — but the pain relievers humans take can be deadly for pets.

You should never give your cat human pain relief. “Human over-the-counter pain relief drugs are often poisonous to cats,” warns Dr. Joanna Woodnutt, MRCVS, one of the vets over at MissCats.

Paracetamol is toxic to cats because their liver lacks the right enzymes to process it. “Even minute doses will cause methemoglobinemia, liver damage, and death,” says Dr. Woodnutt. If your cat has taken paracetamol, you should phone your nearest emergency veterinarian immediately for advice. They'll ask you to bring your cat down to get the antidote.

When to talk to a vet about cat pain

The vet will always know what is best. “Ibuprofen and aspirin are occasionally prescribed for cats, but only in occasional circumstances and in different doses to those you would use for humans,” says Dr. Woodnutt.  It's also important that your vet checks your cat for signs of underlying disease. “Ibuprofen on top of kidney damage, for instance, could cause serious and life-threatening damage,” adds Dr. Woodnutt.

Signs your cat is in pain

Cats have high pain thresholds, so if they're exhibiting signs or symptoms of pain, like limping, the situation may be more serious than you think. Here are some other signs/behavior signatures that might mean your cat is in pain.

  • Limping/reduced mobility

  • Loss of appetite

  • Noticeable behavior changes

  • Withdrawal/hiding for long periods

  • Over- or under-grooming

  • Avoiding being picked up/played with

  • Decreased activity levels

  • Crying, meowing excessively, or growling

  • Increased aggression

What can you give a cat for pain?


CBD oil is a new therapy that is emerging in veterinary medicine. “Unfortunately, in multiple states, veterinarians cannot legally consult owners on potential doses and frequency in their pets,” warns Dr. Michelle Burch DVM from Safe Hounds Pet Insurance.

CBD oil products are currently not regulated, and there can be extreme variance in the concentration in the oil compared to the labeled statement. Also: Multiple products have been shown to contain impurities, which may be toxic to your cat,” warns Dr. Burch. So make sure you do your research before giving your cat anything.

Prescription medication from your vet

There are a few prescription opioid pain relievers, like buprenorphine that the vet will be able to explore with you. The vet will be able to decide how painful the situation is for your cat is and the appropriate pain medication depending on their age, health, size, and other factors. “They will likely give a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), or an opioid, both of which are commonly used for feline pain,” explains Dr. Woodnutt.


Supplements, for example fatty acids, may also help with inflammation, which is another resource a vet may recommend to deal with pain.


For long-term and chronic pain like arthritis, acupuncture may be an ideal therapy for cats. While some cats may not respond well to it (they all have their own minds), many cats can and do benefit from either the laser or traditional needle variety.

Massage & heat therapy

You can provide gentle massages for your cat especially if they're experiencing stiffness in their joints. Heat therapy utilizes the same strategy as with humans, warming up problem areas to help relieve pain.

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