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Understanding the Feline Grimace Scale

Updated: Mar 18

If you are a cat guardian, you probably already know that cats are masters when it comes to masking pain. They often hide their pain to the point where their people have no idea that their cat is in any discomfort. If you can see pain in your cat, that means they are really feeling it to the point where they can no longer hide it. This can make it difficult to know if your cat is in need of help. One tool that veterinarians and other cat professionals use is called the Feline Grimace Scale.

In this post, I’ll explain more about the Feline Grimace Scale, how it works, and why it can be a valuable tool to help understand your cat’s well-being.

What is the Feline Grimace Scale?

The Feline Grimace Scale is a specialized tool designed to evaluate a cat’s pain levels by observing their facial expressions and behavior. It consists of specific Criteria, each with an assigned score, to help determine the cat’s level of pain.

Undiagnosed pain is a common contributor to unwanted behavioral issue, so consulting this scale can be a good place to start when your cat exhibits problem behaviors, especial if they are new behaviors.

Key Indicators on the Feline Grimace Scale

1. Orbital Tightening (Squinting): One of the primary indicators of pain is when a cat’s eyes squint. The more a cat’s eye appears squinted or half-closed, the higher the score on the scale.

2. Ear Position: If the cat is experiencing pain you may see the ears are slightly pulled apart or rotated outwards.

3. Muzzle Tension: Signs of pain are a mouth that appears tense or tight

4. Whisker Position: Whiskers that are drawn back or flattened against the face are possible signs of pain.

5. Head Positioning: Look at your cat’s head. If it is lowered or held low to the ground, that is an indication of pain.

How the Scale Works

Each of the above indicators is assigned a score from 0 to 2. A score of 0 indicates no pain or discomfort, while a score of 2 indicates severe pain or discomfort. The cumulative score can help you understand your cat’s pain levels.

Why the Feline Grimace Scale Matters to You

1. Early Detection: Knowing what to look for can help you identify pain and discomfort in your cat and seek veterinary help before it escalates into a more serious problem.

2. Behavioral Implications: Undiagnosed pain is at the root of many unwanted behavioral issues. If you can identify and treat your cat’s pain, you can improve their quality of life and avoid possible behavioral problems.

3. Quality of Life: Living with chronic pain is exhausting and stressful, no matter the species. By ensuring that your cat is free from pain, you will be doing your part to make sure their lives are as happy and healthy as possible.

All cat guardians should take the time to understand the Feline Grimace Scale and use it as a tool to keep their cats as content and pain-free as possible. When you recognize the subtle signs of pain and discomfort early, you can address the issue with your vet and potentially avoid undesirable behavioral issues and improve the overall well-being of your cat.

To learn more and to practice your skills, visit There is even an app which can be found on the website.



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