If your cat suffers from chronic pain or seizures, your vet might prescribe gabapentin to ease his discomfort or prevent neurological episodes. The drug can put a new spring in your geriatric kitty's step. If your oldster doesn't move much anymore due to chronic arthritis, ask your vet about gabapentin.
Marketed under the brand name Neurontin, gabapentin is used in people for many of the same conditions as in felines. It treats pain associated with the nervous system, or neuropathic pain. The medication doesn't last long in the body, so it's not usually the only pain medication prescribed, at least in the beginning. With progressive pain, other pain medications might require continual administration. According to Mar Vista Animal Medical Center, the actual chemistry of how gabapentin works in the body is still not known.
Side Effects and Contraindications
Usually well tolerated by cats, gabapentin does have potential side effects that include lethargy and odd movements or loss of coordination, especially while walking. Some cats might experience diarrhea. It shouldn't be prescribed for pregnant or lactating cats, or for those with kidney or liver disease. If your cat also receives antacids while on the medication, they can reduce gabapentin's efficacy. Give these different medications to your cat at least two hours apart. If your cat receives other potent painkillers, such as morphine, that might increase the drug's punch but also make side effects more likely. Cats should be weaned off the medication, not stopped abruptly.
Gabapentin is available in tablets and capsules, but because the appropriate dosage for a cat is so small, your vet might recommend a compounding pharmacy to make up the prescription in a form that's practical to administer. Dosing depends on why the drug is prescribed. If your cat suffers from epilepsy, he requires more frequent dosing and a higher amount of the drug. For pain management, your vet will prescribe one to three doses daily. Because cats develop a tolerance to the drug, the amount and dosing frequency might need regular increase.
In addition to epilepsy and chronic arthritis, your vet might prescribe gabapentin for pain control if your cat has been diagnosed with cancer. It can also be used after surgery for pain control. If your cat is diagnosed with hyperesthesia syndrome, an unusual neurological disorder, your vet might prescribe gabapentin for symptom relief. Affected cats display brief, but intense, outbursts of frantic licking or chewing on themselves. They might also void urine, yowl and run around like mad.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.