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Behavioural signs of pain in cats

I. Merola, D. S. Mills

PAIN is a multidimensional experience that includes both a sensory aspect (intensity, location and duration) and an affective-motivational aspect (emotional and unpleasantness). Observation of behaviour is a non-invasive and effective way of investigating pain in different contexts. However, the ability to recognise behavioural indicators of pain may be subjective and biased if objective criteria are not used to define and evaluate these observations. The aim of this study was to collect and classify expert opinion on the behavioural signs in cats that denote pain, according to whether they were sufficient (that is, their presence indicates that the cat is in pain) and/or necessary (that is, their presence is essential to indicate pain, but not necessarily pathognomonic for pain).

A panel of 19 veterinary experts in feline medicine completed four rounds of structured surveys between December 2014 and May 2015. In the first round, participants scored 67 behaviours that were based on a systematic review of behavioural assessment of pain in cats previously conducted by the authors. In the second round, participants added to the initial list based on their clinical experience. The …

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