Gabapentin for Cats: Benefits and Side Effects
If you’re a cat owner, you know that our feline friends can sometimes suffer from pain and discomfort. While many options exist to help cats feel better, gabapentin is becoming an increasingly popular choice among veterinarians. Here’s what you need to know about this medication and why gabapentin for cats might be a good idea for your kitty.
What is gabapentin?
Gabapentin is a palliative and anticonvulsant medication initially designed for humans. It’s most commonly used to treat nerve pain and seizures. However, it can also effectively treat chronic pain, anxiety, and even hot spots in horses, dogs, and cats. Gabapentin binds to receptors in the brain and nervous system, which helps reduce pain signals. It’s safe for short- and long-term use in cats, and its side effects are typically mild.
What is gabapentin used for cats?
Gabapentin for pain
Gabapentin can be especially useful in treating neuropathic pain, usually when combined with other medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It’s also prescribed for cats with pain due to cancer or chronic arthritic pain.
Gabapentin for anxiety
Although it was not the original intention for this medication, veterinarians have increasingly turned to gabapentin to treat and reduce the stress associated with veterinary visits for cats. Scientists are still researching the benefits of gabapentin for anxious cats. However, a 2017 study found that a dose of gabapentin given approximately 90 minutes before a veterinary appointment significantly reduced the level of stress cats experienced.
Gabapentin for feline hyperesthesia syndrome (FHS)
Feline hyperesthesia syndrome (FHS) is an unexplained neurological disorder that affects cats, particularly their skin. The signs include obsessive skin licking, rippling skin when touched, chasing after one’s tail, and severe oversensitivity to touch. Because FHS is potentially a sign of seizure disorder, gabapentin is often the medication vets choose to treat and manage FHS in cats.
Gabapentin for seizures
Another way gabapentin is used in cats is for treating seizures. Gabapentin is usually combined with other anti-seizure medications. It’s sometimes prescribed as maintenance or adjunctive therapy when treating idiopathic refractory epilepsy, which often doesn’t respond well to other treatments.
Gabapentin for cats: treatments
Gabapentin can be given orally or injected. The oral form is given once or twice a day. In contrast, the injectable form is given every three to seven days. The dosage will vary depending on your cat’s weight, age, health condition, and other factors. Always talk to your veterinarian before starting your cat on gabapentin (or any other medication), as they can determine the appropriate dosage for your pet.
Your cat can take gabapentin with or without food, but it’s best to take the pill before eating. This step will stop any stomach discomfort from making your kitty throw up her medication. Gabapentin is a drug that doesn’t have any strong taste and is usually accepted by cats when given in given with food or treats.
Gabapentin is a medication with quick-acting effects. In clinical trials, improvement in cats occurs within one to two hours. Additionally, gabapentin is relatively affordable and easy to find. You can get it through your vet’s office, local pharmacy, or online pet pharmacies and supply stores.
If you forget to give a dose of gabapentin to your cat, provide it as soon as possible. Should you be too close to your cat’s next scheduled dosage, provide the upcoming dose and skip the missed one. Never give your cat a double dose of this medication at one time.
Gabapentin stops working 12 – 24 hours after a dosage is given.
Gabapentin for cats: side effects
Side effects of gabapentin in cats are rare but can include dizziness, drowsiness, vomiting, and a lack of coordination. The most well-known side effects of this medication include sleepiness and diarrhea. Still, some vets have seen increased sedation in cats who suffer from chronic kidney disease (CKD).
The best way to avoid these side effects is by starting the drug in smaller doses and then gradually increasing it over time.
Gabapentin is a medication that veterinarians should not give to cats who are allergic or hypersensitive. Cat parents should use this medication with caution in cats with decreased liver and renal function, as the drug is removed from the body through the kidneys.
As with any medication, always talk to your veterinarian before starting your cat on gabapentin. Your vet will be able to determine the appropriate dosage for your pet and watch for any potential side effects.
If you’re looking for a safe and effective way to help your cat feel better, gabapentin may be a good option. This medication can help with everything from nerve pain to hot spots, is relatively affordable, and is easy to find. Talk to your veterinarian today to see if gabapentin suits your feline friend.
If your cat has pet health insurance, her gabapentin treatment, among other medications, will most likely be covered for up to 90% of the cost. No pet insurance? No problem! Get a free quote for your kitty right now!
- van Haaften, K, et al. (2017). Effects of a single preappointment dose of gabapentin on signs of stress in cats during transportation and veterinary examination. Retrieved from https://avmajournals.avma.org/view/journals/javma/251/10/javma.251.10.1175.xml
- Waynick, L. (2021). Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome. Retrieved from https://www.thesprucepets.com/feline-hyperesthesia-syndrome-5093921
- Penderis, J. (2008). Seizure Investigation and Management in the Cat. Retrieved from https://www.vin.com/apputil/content/defaultadv1.aspx?pId=11268&id=3866652
- Cornell Feline Health Center. (2019). Chronic Kidney Disease. Retrieved from https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/chronic-kidney-disease