Gray cat laying on bedIf your veterinarian has prescribed a painkiller known as a ‘non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug’ (or NSAID) for your cat, here’s a few things you need to know.

NSAIDs are commonly used in humans and pets to help relieve pain, fever, and inflammation – most commonly associated with degenerative joint disease (arthritis). Controlling your cat’s pain is crucial for his health and welfare. Many cats greatly benefit from these drugs, having better mobility, less pain, increased appetite, and an improved quality of life. Here are some commonly asked questions:

1. Are NSAIDs safe for cats?

  • NSAIDs play a vital 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 has been specifically prescribed for your cat by your veterinarian.
  • Many human drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and paracetamol/acetaminophen can be highly toxic to cats. If you give your cat a human drug, it could be fatal.
  • Adverse effects can be seen with NSAIDs, just as with all drugs. Some cats may be at increased risk of adverse effects (e.g., older cats and cats with certain other diseases). Your veterinarian may then recommend increased monitoring and careful adjustment of therapy to find the lowest effective dose of the drug for your cat.

2. What adverse effects should I look out for?

Licensed NSAIDs have been shown to be safe for use in cats. However, adverse effects can still occur. Most are mild, but some can be serious and may involve the gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, cardiovascular system, or liver. Adverse 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 is experience an adverse effect or change in behavior, contact your veterinarian.

3. What do I need to know about NSAIDS?

  • Make sure you understand how to administer the drug, how much to give your cat, how frequently to give it, and for how long. If you are unsure, ask your veterinarian.
  • Always give your cat the medication with or after food. Your veterinarian may suggest feeding canned 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 and contact your veterinarian.
  • Talk with your veterinarian about what monitoring should be done to safeguard your cat: 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 adverse 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.