Jan 25, 2022
A Guide to Gabapentin for Cats
It's a situation that many cat owners know all too well when it comes to taking their pet in the car; throwing up, diarrhea, urinating, and being very vocal the whole ride. The anxiety our feline friends feel during trips and vet visits often make the owners just as stressed.
Fortunately, many veterinarians are turning to a prescription drug for humans called Gabapentin(Neurontin), an effective anti-anxiety medication for cats. But what many pet owners may not know is that this medication is also used for managing seizures and pain in cats.
We put together this guide for everything you need to know when it comes to using Gabapentin for your furry, four-legged kitty.
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How can Gabapentin be used for cats?
Pain management for cats
Gabapentin, often combined with other analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), is incredibly efficient in treating neuropathic pain in cats. It's also prescribed to relieve pain associated with cancer and arthritis.
Controlling seizures in cats
A medication used to manage seizures in humans, Gabapentin can also control seizures in animals, including cats and dogs. It's often given alongside a primary seizure treatment and used in cats who have epilepsy unable to be managed with one medication, known as refractory epilepsy.
Anxiety treatment for cats
Gabapentin has been increasingly used in veterinary medicine to treat stress and fear associated with anxiety in cats. While research is not extensive, one study found that administering Gabapentin to cats 90 minutes before a vet visit significantly reduces stress-related symptoms during transportation and examination.
What are the gabapentin for cats side effects?
Gabapentin is considered safe for cats as long as you follow the guidelines and instructions of your veterinarian.
Physical side effects
Like any medication, Gabapentin is not without its side effects. Common physical side effects in cats include lethargy, wobbliness or incoordination, vomiting, and decreased appetite.
Behavioral side effects
On the behavioral side, some cats might exhibit signs of agitation, increased vocalization, or even aggression. This can be especially concerning for pet owners, but it's essential to understand these behaviors are potential reactions to the drug and not a reflection of the cat's character.
Chronic use of Gabapentin can lead to liver or kidney issues. Hence, regular check-ups and blood tests are crucial for cats on a long-term Gabapentin regimen.
What to know about giving your cat Gabapentin
Gabapentin for Cats Dosage
The amount of Gabapentin the vet will prescribe for your kitty depends on what health issue they are suffering from, their age, and their weight.
If your cat is experiencing seizures, their vet will most likely recommend Gabapentin 2.5 to 5 mg per pound every 8 to 12 hours. Some cats can go up to 10mg per pound every six hours.
The doses for cats range from 1.5 to 5 mg per pound every 12 hours to manage pain. Again, there are cases when higher doses (up to 50 mg, 1 to 3 times daily) are used.
After examining your cat and inquiring about symptoms they are experiencing, your veterinarian will be able to determine the correct starting dosage.
Side effects of Gabapentin in cats
Gabapentin can cause side effects in cats, though usually mild. The most common is sedation and can be dose-related. If your cat is experiencing sedation, you should talk to your vet to see if they want to tweak the amount your kitty is getting.
Other side effects may include:
Over time cats can develop a tolerance to Gabapentin and may need a dose increase.
Precautions and interactions of Gabapentin in cats
Gabapentin should not be given to cats who are allergic or hypersensitive or pregnant or nursing. It should also be used with caution in cats with decreased liver and renal function.
Consult with your vet if your cat takes any antacids, hydrocodone, and morphine, as adverse side effects can occur.
Gabapentin is valuable as part of any anti-pain, anti-anxiety, and anti-seizure management plan for your cat. Find out how Gabapentin can help your canine family members here.
When prescribed and monitored by your vet, it's considered a safe and efficient treatment option for cats and dogs. You should always consult your vet before starting your pet on it or any other medications.
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Call your veterinary office or ER vet immediately if you suspect an overdose or an adverse reaction to the medication.