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Managing Cat Pain: Medications Supplements and Non-Medication Options

Treating Cat Pain: Medications, Joint Supplements, and Non-Medication-Based Treatments

Cats have a unique nature that makes them the perfect companions for people. They can be cuddly and affectionate, but they also have an independent streak that makes them mysterious and intriguing.

As pet owners, we want to provide the best possible care for our feline friends. This includes making sure they stay healthy and pain-free.

Although cats can be stoic when it comes to pain, it is essential to recognize and treat their discomfort before it becomes a severe problem. In this article, we will discuss three types of treatments for cat pain: medications, joint supplements, and non-medication-based treatments.

Medications for Cat Pain

Cats can experience pain just like humans do, but their medications are not always the same. Human pain medications can be dangerous for cats, and overdosing on such medicines can cause severe health complications that can be fatal.

Acetaminophen is one drug that cat owners must avoid giving their pets. This medication is safe for human consumption in low dosages but can be deadly to cats.

Even a small dose of Tylenol (which has acetaminophen) can be dangerous. It can cause red blood cell damage, oxygen deprivation, and the formation of methemoglobin in cat’s blood.

If left untreated, these conditions can lead to liver damage and death. Aspirin, another common pain medication, can also be hazardous for cats.

It can cause ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are another type of human pain medication that should not be given to cats.

Such medications are sold over-the-counter (OTC) for human use but require a prescription for pets. Some NSAIDs available to cats include

Onsior and


Even these prescription-only medications can be risky for cats and should only be given if prescribed by a licensed veterinarian.

Cats can be safely given opioid-based pain medications, like

Buprenorphine and

Tramadol, with care.

These drugs can cause adverse reactions such as seizures, sedation, or breathing difficulties. So if you are considering these options, it is best to consult with your vet for appropriate doses.

Duragesic is a fentanyl narcotic patch that can be used for cats. It is used to manage chronic, moderate to severe pain in cats and is secured to the skin with a medical adhesive.

However, some feline medical histories can prevent the use of

Duragesic, like if the cat has a history of liver or renal problems. Corticosteroids like prednisone, can be useful for cat pain caused by inflammation due to conditions like arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) when other pain management options do not work.

Although these drugs can have side effects in cats such as increased thirst and weight gain, which can increase risks of diabetes and liver disease.

Neurontin is an anticonvulsant medication that can also be used as a pain medication for cats. It is effective in treating chronic pain caused by nerve damage or neuropathy.

Cerenia is an effective anti-inflammatory medication that can treat cats with pain due to arthritis and osteoarthritis. This medication is not suitable for cats having liver or kidney problems.

Amitriptyline is an antidepressant medication that can also relieve anxiety in cats. Veterinarians use it to treat cats with chronic pain and urinary tract issues caused by anxiety.

Joint Supplements for Cat Pain

In addition to medication, joint supplements can also be helpful in managing pain and improving joint mobility for cats. These supplements work by repairing worn-out cartilage and reducing inflammation.

Glucosamine is a joint supplement commonly used in cats to manage arthritis and other joint-related problems. Chondroitin is another joint supplement that is often combined with glucosamine to enhance its effects.

Adequan is another joint supplement that can be helpful in managing pain in cats. This supplement contains a polysulfated glycosaminoglycan that helps in promoting the formation of new cartilage and reducing inflammation.

Omega-3 fatty acids like fish oil, are also useful joint protectants. These supplements contain essential fatty acids that help reduce inflammation and promote the formation of new cartilage.

Non-Medication-Based Treatments for Cat Pain

In some cases, non-medication-based treatments can be as effective as medication-based treatments. These treatments work by addressing the underlying causes of the pain.

Weight loss is a non-invasive way to manage pain in overweight cats. Excess weight can put additional stress on joints, leading to pain and inflammation.

Reorganizing a cats home environment can also help reduce cat pain. By making necessary changes, like providing comfortable bedding areas, placing food and water bowls, and cat litter boxes in easily accessible areas, can help minimize joint pain.

Acupuncture is another alternative treatment that can reduce pain and inflammation in cats. It works by stimulating specific points in the body with needles, which helps regulate the flow of energy in the body.

Therapeutic laser treatment is a non-invasive treatment that uses laser light to penetrate the skin and stimulate healing. This treatment can be used to manage pain, reduce inflammation, and improve joint mobility in cats.

Physical rehabilitation programs are suitable for cats that have undergone surgery or have a chronic debilitating condition that affects their mobility. Exercises like hydrotherapy and range of motion exercise can help maintain and improve muscle tone and joint mobility.

Stem cell treatments and platelet-rich plasma therapy are innovative treatments that can help repair damaged tissues and promote healing of the joints. Nerve growth factor inhibitors can help cats with chronic pain by preventing the transmission of pain signals.

However, this treatment is still in its early stages of development. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive component of cannabis that has shown promise in managing pain in cats.

CBD can target the endogenous cannabinoid receptors in the nervous system and control pain signals.


Cat owners must be vigilant when it comes to identifying and managing pain in their cats. While medication-based treatments may be the most commonly used treatments, other treatments like joint supplements and non-medication-based treatments are also available.

For those considering human pain medication for their cats, extreme caution must be taken in avoiding dangerous drugs like acetaminophen and NSAIDs. Consulting with a licensed veterinarian to explore treatment options and appropriate dosages is the best way to ensure that our feline friends are comfortable and pain-free, leading to a happier and healthier life for everyone. Prescription Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatories (NSAIDs) for Cats:

Onsior and


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are potent pain relievers that are commonly prescribed by veterinarians to manage different types of pain in cats.

NSAIDs are designed to target inflammation, reducing pain, and improving mobility in cats with conditions like arthritis, urinary tract obstruction, and post-operative pain.

Onsior and

Metacam are two prescription NSAIDs commonly used in feline medicine.


Onsior, also known as robenacoxib, is an NSAID that belongs to the Coxib class of drugs. Coxib drugs are selective inhibitors of prostaglandin E2, which is known to cause inflammation and pain.

Onsior works by inhibiting the COX-2 enzyme pathway, which is responsible for inflammation and pain response. As an NSAID,

Onsior is effective in managing acute pain in cats, providing short-term relief for postsurgical pain, and reducing inflammation associated with osteoarthritis.

However, like all NSAIDs,

Onsior may produce side effects in some cats. Some common side effects of

Onsior include gastrointestinal upset, lethargy, and decreased appetite.

Rare but severe side effects may also occur, such as liver and kidney damage, bleeding ulcers, and anaphylactic shock. These side effects potentially limit the cat’s use of

Onsior, as the vet has to consider the cat’s overall health before prescribing this medication.


Metacam, known as meloxicam, is an NSAID that is available only under a veterinarian’s prescription. It is formulated in both subcutaneous and oral forms, allowing the vet to choose the most appropriate method of administration.

The short-term effects of

Metacam can be life-changing, and the drug provides immediate relief from acute pain. This use, however, is only for a single dose at a time, followed by a pause of 24 to 48 hours to minimize the risks of side effects.

In addition to short-term clinical efficacy,

Metacam has been shown to significantly reduce pain and improve mobility in felines with osteoarthritis. However, the use of

Metacam is associated with a risk of long-term renal damage.

This is because

Metacam undergoes extensive protein-binding in the kidneys and, when given in excess, it can cause direct damage to renal epithelial cells. The risk of renal damage associated with

Metacam may limit its use in some cats, particularly those with underlying renal problems.

To prevent long-term damage,

Metacam should only be used when prescribed by a licensed veterinarian. Opioids for Cats:


Tramadol, and


Cats, like humans, can experience severe pain that may require the use of opioids, such as buprenorphine, tramadol, and


These medications provide moderate to severe pain relief and are useful for managing chronic pain caused by conditions such as cancer, surgery, or injury.


Buprenorphine is a partial mu-opioid receptor agonist that provides short-term pain relief for cats. It is often used post-surgery or as part of a pain management plan for chronic conditions like osteoarthritis.

Buprenorphine can be used safely in cats over an extended period. However, long-term use can cause side effects such as constipation, respiratory complications, drowsiness, and behavioral changes.

Generally, vets prescribe

Buprenorphine in less frequency to minimize these side effects while still providing adequate pain relief.


Tramadol is another opioid medication used for short-term pain relief in cats. It can also be used to treat chronic pain related to osteoarthritis and other painful conditions.

Tramadol is available in several forms coated with cat-friendly flavors, and it can be given orally or as an injection. Despite providing a moderate level of pain relief, long-term use of

Tramadol may result in side effects similar to

Buprenorphine, such as sleepiness and constipation.


Duragesic, known as the fentanyl patch, is a transdermal opioid medication that is typically used in cats with moderate to severe pain who may not respond to other pain management protocols.

Duragesic provides effective pain relief for 48 to 72 hours, making it a convenient long-term pain management option for cats.


Duragesic may produce side effects like sedation and respiratory depression, necessitating close monitoring and careful dosage. This medication is also associated with the potential for overdose, and if improperly disposed of could cause harm to pets and humans alike.

In conclusion, NSAIDs and opioids provide effective pain relief management for cats.




Tramadol, and

Duragesic are all medications that can be prescribed by licensed veterinarians.

As with all medications, these treatments will depend on the pets overall health and the type of pain they are experiencing. The vet will prescribe the most suitable option for their patient, weighing the benefits of pain relief with the risks of side effects and medication potential for abuse.

This holistic approach ensures the cat receives proper pain management, leading to faster healing, better mobility and a happier, healthier life. Steroids for Inflammation in Cats: Corticosteroids, Anti-Inflammatory, and Potential Side Effects

Corticosteroids are potent anti-inflammatory medications that are commonly used in cats to treat inflammation, allergies, immune-mediated disorders, and pain.

They work by reducing inflammation in the body’s tissues, which helps relieve pain and swelling. Corticosteroids, when used appropriately, can be beneficial in managing cat pain.

However, they are not without potential side effects, including delayed wound healing, muscle weakness, and cartilage degeneration. Therefore, caregivers must understand the risks and benefits of using corticosteroids in cats.

Besides, cats using corticosteroids may require additional monitoring of blood sugar levels, as they can increase the risk of insulin resistance, leading to diabetes. Therefore, corticosteroids may need to be combined with other medications, such as NSAIDs, to minimize their adverse effects.

Using a combination of corticosteroids and NSAIDs could provide a better and safe pain management option. The combination can help reduce inflammation while providing adequate pain relief without some of the serious side effects that may occur when using corticosteroids alone.

Side Effects of Corticosteroids

When given for a prolonged period, the use of corticosteroids has associated risks of various side effects. Although some side effects are temporary, others may lead to long-term health problems.

Delayed wound healing is common in cats using corticosteroids. This side effect occurs due to the mild immunosuppressive effects of corticosteroids, as they alter the immune system’s response to infections.

When wounds don’t heal quickly, it may lead to infections that can cause additional problems for cats. Cartilage degeneration is another side effect of prolonged use of corticosteroids.

Since the anti-inflammatory properties of corticosteroids relieve pain and inflammation, it can cause the body to produce less cartilage, leading to degeneration of the joints. When given in excess doses, corticosteroids can cause acute problems such as vomiting, lethargy, depression, and disorientation.

Such side effects may be minimized by tailoring the doses to suit the cat’s needs by a licensed veterinarian.

Other Medications for Cats in Pain

In addition to corticosteroids, there are other medications that caregivers can use to manage cat pain. These medications include



Amantadine, and



Neurontin, also known as gabapentin, is a medication primarily used for acute and chronic pain management in felines. It is effective for relieving post-operative pain and chronic pain caused by nerve damage.

One of the benefits of using

Neurontin is the low potential for side-effects, making it preferable for long-term pain management. However, excessive doses of

Neurontin can cause gastrointestinal upset in cats.


Cerenia is an antiemetic medication used in cats to control vomiting associated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. It also is effective in managing some types of cat pain.

Cerenia, when used for pain, provides mild pain relief but has the potential for causing significant side effects, including painful injections. It is vital to monitor the cat closely when administering

Cerenia in case side effects occur.


Amantadine is an antiviral medication that is also useful in cats for managing chronic pain. Although its exact method of pain relief is unknown, researchers believe

Amantadine helps block nerve pain signaling in cats.



Amantadine can cause gastrointestinal upset if given in excess doses. It is therefore essential to prescribe the medicine under a licensed veterinarian.


Amitriptyline is an antidepressant medication that can help relieve chronic pain caused by nerve injury, spinal cord trauma, and some forms of cancer pain. It works by blocking specific nerve signals associated with pain, producing a sedative effect.


Amitriptyline is an antidepressant medication, cats using this medication may exhibit changes in their behavior. Additionally, excess doses of


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