NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are painkillers commonly used in humans and pets to help relieve pain, fever, and inflammation. Veterinarians commonly prescribe NSAIDs for degenerative joint disease (arthritis). Controlling your cat’s pain is crucial for his health and welfare. Many cats greatly benefit from these drugs, making it easier for them to move, having less pain, an increased appetite, and an improved quality of life. Here are some commonly asked questions:
1. Are NSAIDs safe for cats?
- NSAIDs play an important role in therapy and pain relief for many cats.
- There are differences between cats and other pets. So, you should only use a drug that your veterinarian specifically prescribes for your cat.
- Many human drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and paracetamol/acetaminophen can be highly toxic to cats. Do not give your cat a human drug, it can be fatal.
- Unfavorable effects may be seen with NSAIDs, just as with all drugs. Some cats may be at increased risk of unfavorable effects (e.g., older cats and cats with certain other diseases). Your veterinarian may recommend additional monitoring and careful adjustment of therapy to find the lowest effective dose of the drug for your cat.
2. What unfavorable effects should I look out for?
While licensed NSAIDs have been shown to be safe for use in cats, adverse or unfavorable effects can still occur. Most are mild, but some can be serious and may involve the gastrointestinal tract (stomach and intestines), kidneys, cardiovascular system (heart and blood vessels), or liver. Unfavorable effects may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea or vomiting
- Lethargy and dullness/depression
- Altered thirst and/or urination
- Diarrhea and/or black-colored feces
- Yellowing of the skin, gums or whites of the eyes
If your cat experiences an unfavorable effect or change in behavior, contact your veterinarian.
3. What do I need to know about NSAIDS?
- Make sure you understand how to give the drug, the amount to give your cat, how often to give it, and the length of time. If you are unsure, ask your veterinarian.
- Always give the medication to your cat with or after food. Your veterinarian may suggest feeding canned food rather than dry food to help encourage good fluid intake. Maintaining a good fluid intake is important.
- If your cat does not eat, DO NOT give him the medication. Contact your veterinarian and discuss the situation.
- Talk with your veterinarian about how to safeguard your cat with monitoring: how frequently your cat should be re-examined, what blood and urine tests should be done, and how frequently these should be done.
- Never give your cat any other medication at the same time without first asking your veterinarian.
- If at any stage you have concerns, or see any potential unfavorable effects, STOP giving the medication, and contact your veterinarian immediately.
- Safety first: If you are in any doubt, again, STOP the medication and TALK to your veterinarian.