PetMeds®: Pain Relief for Cats

yellow-tabby-cat The topic of pain relief in our dogs and cats is one of the hottest topics today in veterinary medicine. There is such a concern about easing pain and suffering in both dogs and cats, that many veterinary state practice acts are now including mandatory pain relief medications even for routine surgical procedures.

While there are numerous approved prescription nonsteroidal anti inflammatory pain relief medication for dogs such as Rimadyl, Deramaxx, and Previcox, because of the unique sensitivity and metabolism of domestic short hair cats, our choices are often much more limited in our feline companions. As cats age, they do indeed suffer many of the same painful aging conditions as dogs and people such as degenerative joint disease and arthritis, as well as spinal arthritis, disc problems, as well as the routine discomfort seen post surgery.  For decades we had few options to offer our feline friends, except for a few medications that were mostly injectable narcotic drugs available only in the veterinary hospital setting. However, with the approval and use of such drugs like the nonsteroidal anti inflammatory pain medication Metacam in cats, that has indeed changed. Because of our felines’ sensitivity to such drugs, however, it is important to make sure that predrug veterinary blood work and urine testing is done, as well as monitored during long term treatment if Metacam is indeed used. With newer prescription drugs such as the safe alternative Tramadol, we can also combine use of such medications with the nonsteroidal pain medication Tramadol.

For conditions like post operative feline declawing, as well as in painful conditions like feline urologic syndrome (known as FUS) such prescription medications can often offer dramatic symptomatic relief.  Recently individual case reports of using the prescription anticonvulsant Gabapentin has shown promise in relieving pain in domestic cats. We also don’t want to forget the wonderful array of supplements that have also been helpful, especially when combined with prescription medications in relieving pain and discomfort. Yucca Intensive by Azmira, as well as the antioxidant Proanthozone has been quite helpful in my practice and experience in those aging arthritic cats. Glucosamine derivatives such as Cosequin for Cats work best when used with some of the other supplements and medications listed here. Finally, we must not forget the use of complimentary medical modalities such as chiropractic and acupuncture in cats, which has offered both animals and humans dramatic pain relief as either a primary modality or as an adjunct to some of the above medications and supplements.

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  1. These points to an interesting article in findrxonline where they talk about this subject it is necessary to inform the community.
    It is ultimately the patient’s responsibility to use narcotics responsibly.
    A few years ago, narcotics were only prescribed after surgery, severe trauma, or for terminal cancer because of a concern over the possibility of addiction. Recently, they have been cautiously prescribed to treat moderate to severe non-malignant chronic pain in conjunction with other modalities such as physical therapy, cortisone and trigger point injections, muscle stretching, meditation, or aqua therapy. Unfortunately, the upsurge of narcotics as medical treatment also increased associated cases of abuse and addiction.
    Derived from either opium (made from poppy plants) or similar synthetic compounds, narcotics not only block pain signals and reduce pain, but they affect other neurotransmitters, which can cause addiction. When taken for short periods, only minor side effects such as nausea, constipation, sedation and unclear thinking are noted.

  2. The opioids narcotics are effective for diseases such as chronic pain partially solved, medicines like Vicodin, Lortab, oxycodone, Lorcet are widely used in USA and Europe for medical specialists according to findrxonline the percentage of use of these drugs is very high in this part of the continent.

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianNovember 22, 2009 at 7:56 pm · Reply

      Thanks for sharing this information with us. In dogs and cats, the use of opiods has been borrowed from use in human medicine and much of their use is emperical, rather than supported by clinical trials or science. More and more vets are using opioid pain meds like buprenex, as well as tramadol in cats, however we must be very careful in the feline, as they are very sensitive creatures to medications and drugs.

  3. I just sent this post to a bunch of my friends as I agree with most of what you’re saying here and the way you’ve presented it is awesome.

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJune 6, 2010 at 8:59 pm · Reply

      You are very welcome. There is not alot of information out there for pain relief for cats. Please share with your friends and family.

  4. Thanks for the great post. I’m a dog lover too and my dog’s health is very important.
    At Buffalo Veterinary Pet Clinic,we provide comprehensive veterinary care for Dogs, Cats, and Small Pets such as Vaccinations & Preventive Care, Illness & Injury Care, Surgery and Internal Medicine, Dentistry, Radiology and Microchipping.
    We make sure that all your animals are well taken care of.

  5. I shared this post to my friends so they will be able to read your informative article.

  6. Leonardo VargasMay 27, 2011 at 4:53 pm · Reply

    These medicines is occasionally used in the treatment of chronic pain, migraines. The dosage of Vicodin depends on one’s reaction to this medicine. It is also important to tell the doctor if someone is taking other medicine which have acetaminophen, along with Vicodin participating, because one can only take 400 mg of acetaminophen in a day. If a person exceeds the limitation of acetaminophen in a day, then it might cause severe effect on the liver. Findrxonline mentions Therefore, that one should always get Vicodin dose information from his health adviser before taking this medicine.

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  8. Help! My 3 year old cat has chronic gingivitis and has a VERY painful mouth. The vet thinks removing his teeth is the answer at a $1500 price tag. Is there some pain reliever to give him some relief?? Thanks so much!

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianOctober 15, 2011 at 9:57 pm · Reply

      You can ask your vet about prescription pain medicine known as buprinex which may help on short term. Sometimes cortisone injections also may help short term. I would also strongly recommending working with a holistic vet as an alternative. Sometimes symptoms can improve with chronic homeopathic prescribing over many months, along with dietary and nutritional therapies. To learn more about homeopathy see as well as my website Many of us homeopaths like m do offer phone consults. However this condition is a difficult one, and requires a long term holistic committment, but sometimes full mouth extractions are needed.

  9. Have never had to deal with pain relief for a cat before. Our British short hair is now 15 years old and had to get pain medication for the first time for her. Thanks for sharing your knowledge here, its a huge help!

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianOctober 30, 2011 at 9:59 pm · Reply

      HI Sarah: Thanks for your kind remarks. Please pass this blog and other pet meds services on to your family and friends.

  10. My 16-yr-old domestic shorthair female cat can get in serious pain from what I think is arthritis in her hips. Vet Rx’d Buprinex 0.05 cc twice a day. They say I can only get a two-week supply at a time and implied that this was dictated by the FDA. Is this true? I would like to buy more at one time because it’s a hassle going over to the vet’s twice a month. Also I figure meds ordered on line will be cheaper.

    If I ever need to stop giving her this opioid, how do I get her off it?

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianDecember 10, 2011 at 12:12 pm · Reply

      The opiod is usually not addictive in cats. As for getting more, your vet is correct in that only limited amounts at at a time can be dispensed as this is a controlled substance by the FDA. You would not be able to get it on line unless you had written script from your vet. Also consider natural supplements like cosequin for cats and proanthozone from 1800petmeds for hips.

  11. Hi there,

    What’s up, just wanted to tell you, I loved this post? It just so very helpful. Keep on posting!

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  13. Have you ever thought about creating an e-book or guest
    authoring on other blogs? I have a blog centered on the same information you discuss and would really like
    to have you share some stories/information.
    I know my readers would appreciate your work.
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  15. Our 15 year old Bengal cat has been on prednisalone for the last two years to help manage IBS. Occasionally he needs temporary doses of metronidazole as well. Lately he has some discomfort and difficulty walking and was also prescribed tramadol for short periods. Is there any contraindication for giving all 3 at the same time?

  16. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianNovember 22, 2009 at 8:00 pm · Reply

    Thanks for this wonderful information. I whole heartedly agree with you and your detailed review of narcotics in people. We have to be aware of this as well in our veterinary patients as well, where little scientific studies have been done on especially the feline species. More and more vets are using prescription buprenex in painful condition of cats along with approved nonsteroidal anti inflammatory drugs like metacam(as long as blood work, urine ok). Also tramadol use recently has been helpful and economic, in addition to newer uses of drugs like Gabba Pentin in cats as well. However lots of this is truly trial by error in this species as we try and develop more effective ways at managing their pain. I think this is where holistic medicine such as acpuncture can help tremendously, as well as physical therapy, when appropriate.

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