Monday, December 12, 2011

Measuring cat pain relief

Eamon gets in touch with his reflection.
Measuring pain in cats is notoriously hard, as cats like to hide their pain and pretend as though nothing is wrong. I've discovered that it's also hard to measure a cat's recovery.

When Eamon hurt his back, he was placed on prednisone and the veterinarian asked me to monitor his progress and taper his dose if I thought he was improving. For the first several weeks, I found myself following him around obsessively. He played with a toy. Does this mean he felt better? He didn't feel like grooming this afternoon. Was he hurting? This sort of thing can make you crazy, and eventually, Eamon took to hiding beneath the couch so I would leave him alone.

Now that several months have passed, I think we have both mellowed a bit.

I've discovered that I can best measure Eamon's pain level by watching his interaction with the other animals. If he's feeling well, he will run past the dog in the hopes of starting a game of chase. If he's feeling extraordinarily well, he'll wrestle with Lucy in the evenings. On the flip side, if he's feeling painful, he'll hiss and growl when his mates try to play and he'll choose to sleep by himself instead of snuggling with others.

This might not be the best way to measure pain in other cats, and it's certainly not an approach I've seen described anywhere else, but it's the measurement I'm using here. When he seems painful, I increase his meds just a bit. When he's been fine for several days, I lower the dose.

So far, things seem to be working. Here's hoping the trend will continue.