By Dr. Jess Trimble
Gabapentin is a popularly prescribed medication for treating seizures, anxiety and pain. Doctors often use gabapentin for dogs, cats, and even humans. Gabapentin for cats is particularly popular because it has been clinically proven to effectively reduce anxiety.
Gabapentin for cats becomes very helpful when examining kitties that can be nervous or aggressive around strangers, and very anxious in vet-related situations. As veterinarians, it’s critical for us to be able to fully examine our cat patients, and we do the best we can without turning to prescription anxiolytics. However, sometimes we need a little extra help in order to perform a more thorough exam, draw blood, trim nails, or give vaccinations. It is also helpful if your cat gets stressed in the car and needs to go to a full service veterinarian for a procedure, Gabapentin can help both you and your pet, actually, by creating a more pleasant, low-stress experience.
Gabapentin can easily be administered by breaking open the capsule and mixing the powder with some of your cat’s favorite wet food or tuna juice. You should give it to your cat about 1-2 hours going to the vet, traveling, or whatever triggers the anxiety. In some cases, if your cat is very fearful or aggressive, vets might recommend that you administer an extra capsule the night before the checkup (or the trip, etc.), in addition to the dose 1-2 hours before. It’s considered a safe medication that’s tolerated well by most cats, with minor or no side effects beyond drowsiness.
DVM’s use slightly smaller concentrations of gabapentin for cats that need for pain relief with less sedation. Cats have very sensitive kidneys, and we are more limited in terms of pain medication options for long-term use in kitties. We often compound it into a tasty liquid, or in chew form if needed more long-term for conditions such as arthritis, spinal disc disease, or pain due to cancer.
Do you have questions about whether gabapentin could work for your cat? Drop us a line to consult with one of our vets.