CVC Highlight: How I assess postsurgical pain in cats - Veterinary Medicine
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CVC Highlight: How I assess postsurgical pain in cats
This clinician uses a hybrid system to help score pain in cats that takes into account the type of procedure performed.



It is worth mentioning that systolic hypertension in cats may be the only physiologic parameter shown to correlate with postoperative pain in animals. In one study, cats receiving no (or inadequate) dosages of butorphanol (0.1 mg/kg) after ovariohysterectomy often had increased systolic blood pressure and serum cortisol concentrations when compared with cats receiving adequate pain medication.5 The cats with increased systolic blood pressure also demonstrated behavioral changes associated with pain (withdrawal, remaining still, and vocalizing when moved), while cats that had lower blood pressure were willing to move and returned to a normal personality sooner. However, stress in addition to pain may also lead to systemic hypertension, and the practicality of using systolic blood pressure as a gauge of pain has not been determined.


By using a standardized proposed pain scale and attempting to eliminate score variations, we can strive to alleviate suffering in our feline patients by quickly recognizing clinical signs of pain and taking appropriate pain control measures.

Mark E. Epstein, DVM, DABVP (canine and feline), DAAPM
Carolinas Animal Pain Management
TotalBond Veterinary Hospital Forestbrook
3200 Union Road
Gastonia, NC 28056


1. Holton L, Reid J, Scott EM, et al. Development of a behaviour-based scale to measure acute pain in dogs. Vet Rec 2001;148(17):525-531.

2. Morton CM, Reid J, Scott EM, et al. Application of a scaling model to establish and validate an interval level pain scale for assessment of acute pain in dogs. Am J Vet Res 2005;66(12):2154-2166.

3. Holton LL, Scott EM, Nolan AM, et al. Comparison of three methods used for assessment of pain in dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1998;212(1):61-66.

4. Lascelles BD, Cripps PJ, Jones A, et al. Efficacy and kinetics of carprofen, administered preoperatively or postoperatively,for the prevention of pain in dogs undergoing ovariohysterectomy. Vet Surg 1998;27(6):568-582.

5. Smith JD, Allen SW, Quandt JE, et al. Indicators of postoperative pain in cats and correlation with clinical criteria. Am J Vet Res 1996;57(11):1674-1678.


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