A pet owner from East Sussex is urging people to pay extra attention to their cat's behaviour as they could be hiding incredible pain.
The emotional plea by Menna Field follows her own experience with her beloved rescue cat Holly, who was recently treated atSt Anne's Veterinary Group in Eastbourne.
Her five-year-old pet was only showing subtle changes in behaviour, but cats can hide great pain, and Holly actually required major dental work to stop what transpired to be severe discomfort.
Menna, a veterinary nurse at St Anne's Vets, said: "Cats hide pain extremely well, and it was subtle things such as her getting more furballs than usual because she was grooming herself overly due to pain.
"She was eating, but instead of eating all of her kibble, it was being broken up into little pieces and left in the bowl.
"We thought she had a bad tooth and some gingivitis, but she ended up having major dental work with multiple digital X-rays, extractions and a gum flap resection carried out by the team at St Anne's Vets."
As rescue cat Holly was particularly nervous about visiting the vets due to having multiple operations elsewhere as a kitten, she was safely sedated at home ahead of the major operation.
Menna added: "Holly’s had a tough life. She was a stray kitten and was hit by a car at 12 weeks old, leaving her extremely traumatised. I was asked to foster her, but, of course, I ended up keeping her.
“She’s a real fighter, and I would urge other cat owners to keep a close eye on their pets. Even if they are eating, they might be hiding pain because it’s their instinctive nature to need to eat.”
Rebecca Taylor, veterinary surgeon at St Anne’s, said: “We don’t know the exact cause of Holly’s dental issues, but we suspect she has a weak immune system and came from an unvaccinated mother, which may be the cause of it.
“The gum had grown over where the teeth had resorbed to protect them, but this can expose nerves and is very painful.
“It was a two-hour operation and quite complicated. Holly is typical of many cats and bravely hid the great pain she was in.
“I would echo Menna’s plea and urge cat owners to watch out for any slight changes in their pet's behaviour, as it could be a sign of something more serious.”