NSAIDs for Cats

Is it time for my Onsior again?
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If you're feeling feverish or sore, you might simply pop a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID, such as ibuprofen or naproxen. But you can't just give any old NSAID to a cat that isn't feeling up to snuff. Your vet can prescribe an NSAID that's suitable for Kitty.

NSAIDs and Cats

Cats are extremely sensitive to most nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories. Even those approved for veterinary use can have serious side effects, so you must be very careful not to overdose Kitty. Inappropriate NSAIDs given to felines can cause kidney failure, ulcerate the gastrointestinal system or promote internal bleeding. On the other hand, cats in chronic or severe pain need medication to ease suffering, so a handful of NSAIDs are available to deal with those issues. Cats prescribed NSAIDs require close veterinary monitoring. Fido has many more NSAIDs approved for veterinary use than Kitty. For instance, Rimadyl, a well-known canine NSAID, is not recommended for use in cats.


Marketed under the brand name Metacam, meloxicam might be the drug of choice for your vet to give Kitty when he's undergoing surgery. For that use, Kitty gets an injection of the drug. For other feline pain relief, meloxicam is available in a liquid form for giving Kitty medication orally. However, that's an off-label use, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Metacam in cats for pain relief only in surgical procedures. That doesn't mean your vet can't prescribe it for your cat for other pain issues, as the FDA allows vets to prescribe drugs for use other than what is stated on the drug's label. Because of its known benefits, many vets do prescribe it for daily use to reduce inflammation and pain.


Novartis Animal Health's Onsior, the brand name for robenacoxib, is at the time of publication the only NSAID available in pill form for cats. Onsior is also available in an injectable version. Robenacoxib falls under the coxib class of NSAIDs, similar to brands like Vioxx or Celebrex for human use. Give Kitty a small, flavored pill daily for pain management, preferably on an empty stomach. Unlike other NSAIDs, robenacoxib doesn't just circulate throughout Kitty's bloodstream; it concentrates itself at the point of his inflammation. Don't give this medication to kittens, cats with kidney or liver disease, or pregnant or nursing mothers. If you are pregnant, ask your doctor about handling this medication.


Piroxicam, marketed under the brand name Feldene, is generally administered to treat cancer in cats, particularly oral squamous-cell cancer or bladder cancer. It's also used for controlling pain due to chronic arthritis. It's used off-label by vets, as it's only approved for human use. According to a study published in 2010 in the Journal of Feline Medical Surgery, "Long-term daily piroxicam is generally well tolerated in cats at conventional doses." However, the other NSAIDs approved for feline pain relief usually produce fewer side effects.

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.

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