Few things are as frustrating to a loving cat owner as knowing your pet is in pain and not knowing what to do about it. Whether your cat is suffering due to chronic arthritis, an acute injury, or post-surgical healing, there are several available options to help them find comfort.
Veterinary Prescription Cat Pain Relief
Veterinarians can prescribe a number of different drugs to provide pain relief for cats, but none of these drugs should be obtained or used without your vet's guidance. The right medication for your feline depends on their type of pain, pain level, medical history, and your ability to medicate them.
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A Fentanyl patch can be extremely useful for controlling post-surgical pain, and the convenient patch eliminates the need for oral medications. It's also useful for controlling pain in cats receiving cancer treatments.
Fentanyl Patch for Cats Drawbacks
The biggest concern with Fentanyl patch use is that it can slow down a cat's respiratory system with higher dosages, so you need to watch for signs of lethargy and weakness. There's also the possibility of nausea, constipation, and skin irritation at the contact site. If your cat happens to chew or swallow the patch, they could have a toxic reaction, so be sure to prevent your cat from licking or scratching near the patch.
Gabapentin is a neuropathic and anti-convulsive drug commonly used in human medicine. Although its use in cats and dogs is considered "off-label," its safety and effectiveness for pain relief in animals is well documented.
Issues With Gabapentin for Pain in Cats
There are very few drawbacks to using gabapentin to help with feline pain management. It's so safe, many veterinarians even prescribe it for use in aggressive cats to take the edge off before a vet visit. However, owners should monitor for possible lethargy, ataxia (loss of balance), and stomach upset with this prescription medication.
A type of corticosteroid, prednisolone is an anti-inflammatory drug useful for treating joint pain and uncomfortable skin irritation in cats.
Concerns About Prednisolone as Pain Meds for Cats
Prolonged use of prednisolone, while sometimes necessary, inhibits the body's own hormone production, which can lead to adrenal insufficiency. Additionally, the drug commonly causes excessive thirst, hunger, and urination in felines. Steroids should not be administered to cats suffering from diabetes and should never be used in combination with drugs classed as NSAIDS. They also inhibit healing, so they're not a good choice for cats with healing wounds or incisions.
Tramadol is an opioid agonist, and is relatively safe to use for pain relief in cats as well as dogs. It effectively blocks pain receptors in a cat's brain and can come in a pill or liquid form, although both are very bitter.
Issues Associated With Tramadol as Painkillers for Cats
Tramadol can cause a number of side-effects, most of them not life threatening. Watch for constipation, upset stomach, and a lowered heart rate. Constriction of the pupils could be an early sign of an overdose, and seizures could follow as it lowers the seizure threshold. Tramadol also should not be used in combination with flea, tick, and mite preventions containing Amitraz as the active ingredient.
Buprenorphine is another opioid agonist commonly used in cats. Administration of this drug is fairly easy, as it's absorbed in a cat's oral mucous membranes, so they don't necessarily have to swallow it. So long as you get it onto your cat's tongue or somewhere in their mouth, it'll take effect.
Concerns Surrounding Feline Buprenorphine Use
As with any narcotic, buprenorphine can cause sedation and drowsiness. Cats with progressive liver, heart, kidney, or lung disease may not tolerate this medication, but check with your vet for their recommendation. Again, avoid using products containing Amitraz when using this drug.
Over-The-Counter Feline Pain Relief
With your veterinarian's guidance, you may be able to use an over-the-counter option for your feline friend.
Aspirin for Feline Pain Relief
Aspirin is an all-purpose pain reliever commonly used to treat arthritic conditions. It's also used as a fever reducer, but should be used sparingly for this purpose. This drug is not ideal for use in cats, but it can be given if there are no other options. Check with your veterinarian before giving your cat aspirin.
Concerns About Aspirin for Cats
Aspirin inhibits the blood's ability to clot. Cats don't metabolize this drug very quickly -- a single dose can remain in their system for three days -- so there is a risk of causing an overdose if you give too much. Additionally, aspirin can cause stomach upset and aggravate ulcers. It should never be used in combination with cartilage supplements or other NSAIDS.
Cannabidiol-based products are increasingly popular for both humans and pets. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical found in marijuana plants. Although there is not much literature to date supporting CBD use in cats, some people believe it can help with anxiety as well as pain.
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Issues Associated With CBD for Cats
It's important to understand that although CBD is reportedly safe in cats, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is not. Owners should seek reputable products designed specifically for felines in order to avoid potentially toxic additives or THC/CBD hybrid formulas.
Alternative Pain Relief for Cats
If you prefer to avoid pharmaceuticals, there are a number of alternative treatments you can try to relieve your cat's discomfort. Most of these methods are non-invasive and have very few, if any, adverse effects or drawbacks.
The theory behind the use of magnets to treat pain is that the magnets actually deliver a charge to the bloodstream that increases healing oxygen flow. This therapy is usually delivered through the use of a specially fitted magnetic harness, blanket, or device that you place around or over the painful area.
Acupuncture is a long-standing practice in traditional Chinese medicine that is quickly gaining wide-range acceptance in the West. The treatment involves the placement of extremely small pins along certain meridian lines in the patient's body to help restore the proper flow of energy, known as chi. Pain relief may be accomplished with a single session, but repeat sessions may be called for in cases of chronic pain.
Herbal remedies for pets are on the upswing. There are products touted as safe for felines that contain such diverse ingredients as honey bee sting and yucca to chamomile. Be aware that many of these remedies do not provide immediate relief and require repeated doses to build up in your cat's system to the point where they can be effective.
Just as many humans turn to heating pads for pain relief, cats can benefit from the same therapy. You can wrap a towel around your heating pad cover, set the control on low and place it in your cat's bed for them to lie on. For greater convenience, you can even opt for a therapeutic cat bed with heat and massage controls.
Gentle body massage increases oxygen flow through the blood and muscle tissues. It also stimulates the production of your cat's own pain-relieving endorphins. A method such as Gua Sha massage can have numerous benefits in addition to pain control.
What Can I Give My Cat for Pain?
Resist the urge to give your cat one of your own over-the-counter pain relievers to help them feel better. The problem is that cats are extremely sensitive to many drugs, even some of the drugs that dogs can take. Note that Ibuprofen is severely toxic to cats and should never be given -- even a small amount can cause kidney failure or seizures.
Before you decide to medicate your cat, give your vet a call to find out if the medication you want to use is safe for felines, and what the correct dosage would be for your cat's weight.
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How can I relieve my cats pain naturally? ›
Natural Pain Relief Options for Cats. When treating pain and inflammation in cats, omega fatty acids and glucosamine can be used in addition to, or in lieu of, traditional pain medications. Heat/ice, laser therapy, chiropractics, physical therapy, massage, and acupuncture can also be very helpful in treating cat pain.What can I give my cat for fast pain relief? ›
Opioids. Opioids are a quick pain reliever for cats and include medications such as fentanyl and morphine. These medications are ideal to give your cat after they have had surgery or if they have a chronic disease, such as cancer or severe arthritis.What painkiller is best for cats? ›
A single dose of injectable Metacam has been approved by the FDA for treating postoperative pain in cats. However, the oral form of the medication is sometimes used off-label over longer periods for chronically painful conditions like osteoarthritis or cancer.
Herbs to Reduce Feline Discomfort
There are herbs available that may help alleviate certain discomfort. These include dandelion and catclaw. Both these herbs contain cortisone-like properties to relieve itching. Other herbs that may provide itch relief are calendula, chamomile, and echinacea.
Only two NSAIDs are FDA-approved for cats: meloxicam (sold under several brand and generic names) and robenacoxib (sold under the brand name ONSIOR). Meloxicam is approved for cats as a one-time-only injection to control pain and inflammation after spaying, neutering, and orthopedic surgery.Does CBD oil help cats with pain? ›
CBD oil for cats helps kitties that have developed arthritis by decreasing pain sensations, restoring their energy, and helping to improve mobility. Cats that refuse to eat can get into big trouble rather quickly. CBD oil for cats is great for helping to restore their appetite, so he can keep his good health.Does catnip help cats with pain? ›
Catnip can be used as a temporary pain reliever in cats, similar to the effects of aspirin. (But don't give aspirin to your cat!) Catnip can also be used as an anti-inflammatory tool that can reduce swelling, rashes, and skin irritation. You can implement it as a digestive aid if your cat has upset stomach, as well.Can I give my cat baby aspirin for pain? ›
Even low–dose or baby aspirin (81mg) can cause harm to cats and dogs, especially those with unknown gastric ulcers or liver and kidney issues. While the dose may be low in a baby aspirin, cats are still very vulnerable to it since it is cleared very slowly from their body and toxic effects can build up.How much Benadryl Can I give my cat for pain? ›
Benadryl Dosage for Cats
Typically, cats take 1 mg of Benadryl for each pound of body weight two to three times a day. This means a 12.5-pound cat will take 12.5mg (or half of a 25 mg Benadryl tablet) up to three times a day, depending on your veterinarian's recommendation.
The feline toxic dosage is 50-100 mg/kg. One regular-strength tablet (325 mg) may be toxic to cats, and a second could be lethal. One "extra strength" (500 mg) tablet can result in toxicosis.
What is the best pain relief for arthritis in cats? ›
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (like meloxicam and Onsior) are great at relieving pain and inflammation. ...
- Gabapentin is used for many purposes, and its pain-reliving properties make it a good option for painful, arthritic cats.
The big question is whether Benadryl is safe for kitties as well. The answer: yes, you can give your cat Benadryl. It is an antihistamine and safe for both cats and dogs. Do know that Benadryl is simply the drug's brand name.Can cats have anything for pain? ›
Generally, your cat will receive pain-relief medications before, during, and after the surgery or a dental procedure. Your veterinarian will choose the appropriate drugs based on your pet's specific needs. Some common veterinary pain-relief medications include: Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs).Can I give my cat Benadryl for pain? ›
Such is the drug's popularity that dog owners give their puppies the medicine too. The big question is whether Benadryl is safe for kitties as well. The answer: yes, you can give your cat Benadryl. It is an antihistamine and safe for both cats and dogs.What human medicine is safe for cats? ›
Pets metabolise medications very differently from people. Even seemingly benign over-the-counter or herbal medications may cause serious poisoning in pets. Never give your a cat human medication. Even in tiny doses it can be extremely harmful.Can you give a cat Tylenol or aspirin for pain? ›
Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications like Aleve (naproxen), Advil (ibuprofen), Aspirin (ASA), and Tylenol (acetaminophen) can be deadly if given to your cat or dog.