Feline Pain Relief

cat licking another cat
Tender loving care, one cat to another, feline boredom relief - photo by fofurasfelinas (Flickr)

Feline Pain Relief is too dangerous to be given to a cat without a veterinarians prescription and supervision. All pain relief for a cat needs to be supervised. Veterinarians use analgesics for cats with caution.

First, it is worth mentioning that it may be difficult to ascertain if our cat is suffering from pain. Cats are stoical and hide pain. They may go quiet and hide and dislike being touched and picked up etc.. Deciding whether our cat is suffering from pain is a job for a veterinarian. Also it is pointless treating pain without assessing the underlying cause to see if it can be treated as well. This also needs to be diagnosed professionally. This is the first reason why cat keepers should not administer pain relief without a vet's involvement.

The most common, over the counter pain killer for humans is aspirin. It is listed as one of the common household products that is poisonous to cats, in a well known book, The Veterinarian's Guide To Your Cat's Symptoms by Drs Garvey, Hohenhaus, Houpt, Wallace and Elizabeth Randolph. When taken in all but minute quantities this common painkiller causes nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and possible lethargy in cats.

aspirin molecule
Aspirin molecule

Above image: published under Wikimedia Commons license, the original provider (author) for the license is Benjah-bmm27.

Aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid. It works by suppressing the production of a hormone that helps to transmit the sensation of pain to the brain. It is safe to be given to dogs by unqualified people; but initially under supervision, I would suggest, as dogs are susceptible to the potentially damaging side effects to the gastrointestinal system by ingesting salicylates. Aspirin, however, must be given to a cat with the highest degree of care and caution and in very small doses indeed and under strict veterinarian guidance. This is because the damage that can result as a result of over dosage is very severe indeed. Even small doses can result in vomiting, loss of appetite and depression as mentioned.

One aspirin tablet (for humans - 324 milligrams in weight) is 8 times the proper dosage for a cat. On tablet can cause a host of highly worrying symptoms such as dehydration, salivation, staggering, vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding. Aspirin is potentially highly toxic and poisons a cat at the wrong dosage.

If aspirin is just acceptable for feline pain relief, under strict veterinarian supervision, anti-inflammatory drugs that are commonly used by people such as Ibuprofen (I use this myself) and Anaprox are simply toxic to cats and should never be used. These drugs are used by people to relieve stiffness, joint pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis for example.

Tylenol crystals
Cross polarized Tylenol crystals - photo by nebarnix

The Veterinarian's Guide To Your Cat's Symptoms also states that another well known drug, Tylenol, should not be used for feline pain relief. Tylenol is a popular analgesic in the USA. The active ingredient is called "paracetamol" (for countries outside USA such as the UK) and is called "acetaminophen" in the USA. Tylenol can cause liver or kidney damage, in humans, in high dosage and if accompanied by alcohol.

Even a small dosage (child's level) can cause hemolytic anemia and liver damage if given for the treatment of feline pain relief.

Another analgesic used for the treatment of pain relief of animals including horses and dogs is called Butazolidin. The active ingredient is phenylbutazone, which is used as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug to treat chronic pain. Side affects are suppression of white blood cell production (white blood cells are part of the bodies defense system) and Aplastic Anemia (suppression of red blood cell production in the bone marrow).

Butazolidin is also toxic to cats in the same way as aspirin and Tylenol and should not be used for feline pain relief.

Conclusion

Although aspirin is potentially toxic to cats, with severe symptoms, it is the only usable analgesic provided it is used with extreme caution in very small dosages and under strict veterinarian guidance and supervision (source: The Veterinarian's Guide To Your Cat's Symptoms). Obviously veterinarian medicine is evolving all the time and at the time of this post there may be alternatives that are relatively safe to use under supervision. The same principles apply, however, in that it is simply dangerous to treat cats for feline pain relief without veterinarian advice.

Update March 11th 2011: Valley Girl, a colleague of mine, has referred me to this page: Fentanyl (Duragesic Patch). This method of pain relief is once again administered by vets only.


Feline Pain Relief - Sources:
  1. As stated in the text (thanks to Drs Carslon and Giffin)
  2. Wikipedia for the chemistry of these drugs and the Wikimedia commons images
Photo: published under a creative commons license = Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License - thanks to fofurasfelinas
Feline Pain Relief Feline Pain Relief Reviewed by Michael Broad on August 17, 2008 Rating: 5

3 comments:

San Francisco Giants said...

In the United States is the largest number of people using opioid drugs such as Vicodin, hydrocodone, norco, to name a few, which help to relieve chronic pain that they suffer as lower back pain, fibromyalgia, cancer, diseases that are transmitted severe pain and these drugs are responsible for slow and controlled, the only thing to do is to indicate that make responsible use of these narcotics and can cause severe damage because of side effects.

Anonymous said...

S.F.

I think you need to cut down on the Vicodin.....just sayin............

Anonymous said...

Ha! Um... yeeeah.

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