A preliminary study of behaviour-based indicators of pain in cats
The aim of this preliminary study was to identify key behavioural indicators of pain in cats. The behaviour of cats before and after ovariohysterectomy was analysed using a detailed behavioural ethogram. A comparison of behaviours between cats given pre-operative analgesia only and cats given both pre- and post-operative analgesia indicated that both groups demonstrated changed behaviour following surgery, compared to a control group of cats which underwent anaesthesia but not surgery. However, some specific postures, such as 'half-tucked-up' and 'crouching', were identified that occurred with greater frequency in the cats receiving pre-operative analgesia only, as compared to those receiving additional post-operative analgesia. This indicates that there are some key behaviours that may be useful in determining pain in cats. Routine administration of pre- but not post-operative analgesia may be ineffective for adequately alleviating pain in cats.
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