Pet Health

Gabapentin for Cats: A Cat Anxiety Medication?

Gabapentin for cats has many uses. It's used to treat pain, seizures, anxiety in cats. Click to learn more about common side effects, uses & dosage.

6
min read

Have you ever heard of using gabapentin for cats? This medicine is not new but has been creating a buzz in the veterinary world due to its unexpected effects on our feline companions. Gabapentin for cats’ anxiety and behavioral issues is a revolutionary discovery.

For any cat owner, the scenario is all too familiar. You need to take your dear pet to the vet, but they are less than enthused. It is an ongoing battle that you must wage each time your kitty is due for a checkup. 

Luckily, there seems to be some good news for you and your cat. What if you could give your furry friend a short-term anxiety treatment that would help ease their fears? Gabapentin may be the solution to relieving stress associated with veterinary visits.

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What is Gabapentin & How Is It Used for Cats?

The fact that gabapentin can quickly and effectively ease anxiety is a recent discovery, but the medicine itself is not. As an anticonvulsant and analgesic medication, gabapentin has been proven effective in animals. It treats cats, dogs, and horses with different types of chronic pain, diabetic neuropathy, and seizures. Veterinarians started to notice that one of the side effects of this medication is sedation.

Interestingly, gabapentin was first used as a medication to control seizures in humans. Later, vets discovered that the medicine had the same effect when given to animals with epilepsy. It can also treat inflammation and arthritic pain in cats.

While gabapentin is not labeled as an anxiety medication, it has gained popularity as a safe treatment for anxiety and fear caused by stress. It is especially helpful for cat owners while on the way to a checkup at the vet. Many cats struggle against going into carriers and cars and may even bite or scratch their owners during the arduous process of getting them there. Gabapentin may be the solution to this unpleasant ordeal.

Of course, we should note that the number of clinical studies regarding the effectiveness and safety of treating cats with gabapentin is still limited. However, studies show that when given approximately 90 minutes before a vet appointment, gabapentin leads to a significant reduction in symptoms related to stress. Cats that took gabapentin were more relaxed on the way to and during their visits. The use of gabapentin could eliminate the need for more dangerous sedation methods.

In addition, some vets have noted that gabapentin has been a successful alternative for procedures that would typically require heavier sedation or tranquilizers. Other than causing short-term drowsiness, gabapentin seems to be free of severe side effects. 

Gabapentin for Cats: Dosage, Side Effects, & Precautions

While we have explored the positive effects of gabapentin, like any medicine, there are always precautions to be taken. Cat owners should make sure they are administering the medication effectively and at the correct dosage. They should also check with their vet about possible side effects that could be harmful to their particular pet, as well as any harmful drug interactions.

Gabapentin Dosage Guide

All pet owners should consult with their vet about the proper dosage, frequency of dosage, and the most effective way to administer gabapentin. These factors could vary depending upon the specific condition being treated, as well as your cat’s weight and any other unique circumstances related to your cat’s health.

Gabapentin is an oral medication that comes in tablet, capsule, and liquid forms. You can give gabapentin to your cat with or without food, but be sure to monitor your cat closely after administering the medication. If your cat ends up vomiting after taking the medicine, it would be a good idea to give it to them with food in the future. Fortunately, gabapentin does not have a strong taste, so it is relatively easy to give it to your cat undetected in their food or with other treats.

One of the benefits of gabapentin is that it kicks in quickly, usually in an hour or two. Similarly, the effects of the medication usually only last for two to four hours. As with most medications, the dose is different depending on the cat. 

Cats that are smaller, older, or chronically ill often receive a dose of 50-75 mg of gabapentin. Larger and heavier cats should receive doses of 75-100 mg. For the best results, the medication should be given to the cat at least three hours before the vet visit. 

Gabapentin for Cats: Side Effects & Precautions

The most common side effect of gabapentin is what helps with your cat’s anxiety: it causes drowsiness and sedation quickly and for a short term. In some cases, gabapentin can cause constipation, diarrhea, and a loss of coordination. Does gabapentin cause any severe side effects? It doesn’t seem like it.

While the aforementioned side effects are not too serious, it is always a good idea to start with a low dosage and increase it gradually as needed. There is a possibility of overdose, which would be apparent if your cat became excessively lethargic or depressed. If you suspect your cat is overdosing or having an adverse reaction to gabapentin, you should contact your vet immediately.

It is important to note that gabapentin is not safe for cats with allergic reactions to other medications. In addition, because gabapentin is absorbed by the kidneys, it should never be administered to cats that have kidney disease, liver problems, or decreased renal function. Cats that are nursing should also avoid gabapentin as it will be present in their milk.

If you are using gabapentin to treat a cat with epilepsy, do not abruptly discontinue the medication. Otherwise, your cat could experience withdrawal seizures. Always be sure to consult with your vet before starting or stopping the use of all medicines.

While gabapentin is usually quite effective when administered correctly, there is a chance that it will not have enough of an effect on your cat. If your cat still seems to be suffering from extreme stress and anxiety after being treated with gabapentin, your vet may recommend going the traditional route with tried and true sedation methods.

Ask Your Vet About Gabapentin

In conclusion, gabapentin seems to be a safe and effective solution for cats suffering from emotional distress due to vet visits and other traumatic events. This medication is beneficial because it has little to no side effects, can be administered easily, takes effect quickly, and has a short half-life. That means you and your cat can relax and stop dreading that next vet appointment.

If you think your cat could benefit from gabapentin, you should talk with your veterinary provider about trying it. Your vet will likely give you some medication to try before your next appointment. It may take a few trials to get the correct dosage down, so it would be a good idea to make sure you can arrive at the vet early. This way, your veterinarian can administer an additional dose of gabapentin if necessary.

In the end, you and your vet only want the very best for your feline family members. If your cat suffers from behavioral problems, such as stress and anxiety, you may be able to bring them some relief. Talk with your vet to figure out whether your cat is a good candidate for gabapentin. You can then begin the process of figuring out the correct dosage. Gabapentin for cats might be just what the doctor ordered, so speak to your vet today.

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