Use of nociceptive threshold testing in cats in experimental and clinical settings: a qualitative review

Vet Anaesth Analg. 2020 Jul;47(4):419-436. doi: 10.1016/j.vaa.2019.12.009. Epub 2020 Mar 27.


Objective: The objective of this study was to review the scientific articles on the use of nociceptive threshold testing (NTT) in cats and to summarize the clinical and experimental applications in this species.

Databases used: Pertinent literature was searched with PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, Universitätsbibliothek Basel (swissbib Basel Bern) and Google Scholar. The search was then refined manually based first on article titles and abstracts, and subsequently on full texts.

Conclusions: Of the four classical acute nociceptive models used for NTT, thermal and mechanical are most commonly used in cats. Thermal stimulation is applicable in experimental settings and has been used in pharmacodynamics studies assessing feline antinociception. Although mechanical stimulation is currently less used in cats, in the future it might play a role in the evaluation of clinical feline pain. However, the low response reliability after stimulus repetition within a narrow time interval represents a major limitation for the clinical use of mechanical thresholds in this species. Challenges remain when thermal thresholds are used to investigate analgesics that have the potential to affect skin temperature, such as opioids and α2-adrenergic agonists, and when a model of inflammatory pain is reproduced in experimental cats with the purpose of evaluating non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as analgesics.

Keywords: feline; mechanical and thermal thresholds; nociceptive model; nociceptive threshold testing; pain.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / therapeutic use
  • Animals
  • Cat Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Cat Diseases / drug therapy
  • Cats
  • Pain Measurement / veterinary*
  • Pain Threshold*
  • Physical Stimulation


  • Analgesics