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Cat Medications - Warnings and Guidelines For Cat Medications

What guidelines does the veterinary industry follow to determine if medication is safe and effective for treating cats?

There are published studies that would be available to know whether a medication is safe for your cat and maybe even some personal experience of prescribing medication to know that it's going to be effective and safe.

Dr. Nichola Gaither
Animal Hospital of Statesville

Are prescriptions generally more effective than over-the-counter medications?

Depending on what the problem is, but they are a prescription for a reason. Most prescriptions are stronger. There aren't a lot of antibiotics that are over-the-counter and things like that. So, yes, I would say that they're typically more effective.

Cats are really sensitive to many things, so it's best to know what you're giving rather than just buy something over-the-counter that might hurt them.

Can my cat get what they need from diet alone?

Great question. It depends on what the problem is, but if you have a medical problem, then the diet will not fix that. But if you are feeding your pet a healthy diet, you can help prevent a lot of problems from happening.

Cats sometimes can be very finicky about what they eat, but in particular, hyperthyroid disease can be treated by diet alone, if your cat will eat that food and if you can feed your cat exclusively that food. That's another factor that comes into play with food. Then there are a lot of great urinary diets that can help cats with urinary issues.

What are some common types of cat medications?

One of our routine-recommended medications is Revolution, which is anti-parasitic. It treats and prevents heartworms, fleas and ticks, and intestinal parasites. That's one that we tend to recommend for any cat that walks in the door.

Other medications might be antibiotics; if your cat has a bacterial infection, especially if they like to be outside and get into fights with other cats, they may come in with an abscess. They might need antibiotics and medications to reduce swelling and help with pain control. They also may need certain types of antifungal medications.

Antihistamines can also be beneficial for your kitty if they do a lot of allergy-related sneezing, although sometimes that's the underlying viral problem, that could also be beneficial.

If your pet's vomiting, we want to give certain types of anti-nausea, anti-vomiting type of medications. Then there's hairball relief—a supplement of laxatone can help with that, and diet can help with that, along with husbandry and grooming.

Do you use steroids to treat cats?

We can, and we do, depending on the problem. Cats can often have a condition called eosinophilic complex, which is steroid responsive. That can have many different underlying causes, but steroids can benefit allergies and other things that we might use steroids for. We want to use those cautiously because they aren't without side effects.

Do you have any tips on how to give my cat their medicine?

That's a great question. Cats don't like medication, but we may prescribe a liquid versus a pill depending on your cat because that's sometimes easier to get into them. We talk about our kitty burritos, where we wrap them in a towel and hold them like a baby to get medications in their mouth. We may give a medication compounded so it can be given a different way called transdermal, which is absorbed through the skin.

Why is it important to avoid self-diagnosing my cat's need for pain medication?

The biggest reason is that cats are very sensitive to pain medications, so they don't always tolerate them well. Misdiagnosing a problem would be the other concern. But you want to make sure the medication you give is safe and effective and dosed correctly for your cat. And they're especially sensitive to Tylenol and that type of thing.

Why is early detection so crucial in getting a good result from cat medications?

Early detection is crucial because cats hide their pain and hide their problems. I know that you guys are very observant with your cat, but many times, by the time that you notice a problem, it is very advanced, and so that is harder to treat and sometimes can carry a poorer prognosis than if it's caught early and treated early.

Why should I purchase cat medications from my veterinarian instead of an outside online store or pharmacy?

Certain medications would be guaranteed if they came directly from your veterinarian; for instance, heartworm preventions can be. Also, when you order online, I have had clients tell me that the packaging comes back in a different language or from another country. We guarantee that our source of the medication, vaccines, or whatever we have in our clinic are handled and stored appropriately.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (704) 872-3625, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.

Cat Medications - FAQs

Dr. Nichola Gaither
Animal Hospital of Statesville

Do I always need to seek the guidance of a veterinarian when giving my cat medication?

For most medications, I would say yes. Even if you are using something common like flea treatment, you want to make sure it's labeled for the cat. When cats are given an inappropriate medication or a dog medication, they can react severely to that.

Can I give aspirin or NSAIDs to my cat?

Our cats are very sensitive to pain medication. And so, we don't recommend it, especially if it's not an NSAID, as Tylenol can be deadly to them. So we would recommend you check with your veterinarian before giving them any kind of pain medication.

Are there any human medications that are safe for cats?

That's a great question. I'll answer that by saying cats are sensitive to many medications. As I stated with the dogs, diphenhydramine, Benadryl, is a pretty benign and safe medication. Still, I would always recommend that you consult with your veterinarian to ensure you're treating appropriately and get the proper response from that treatment. This is particularly true if your cat is already on medication, as the two medications could interact badly.

What are the medications that my veterinarian can prescribe if my cat is in pain?

There are different types of medication and many different delivery mechanisms. And so specifically, medication for pain might be Tramadol, which we often give what we call transdermally, which means it's absorbed through the skin. And so if you think about a cat, the one area that they really can't lick directly is the inside of their ear, and it's relatively hairless, so with very thin hair. And so that would be one area of pain medication for cats. Or we may give something in the cheek pouch that is absorbed through the mucus membranes. We may also use K-laser therapy. That is not a direct prescription medication, but it also can help dramatically with pain control.

What is the best way for me to give my cat medications?

If you have a really food-motivated cat, you may be able to crush certain medications and hide them in canned food. I often recommend that you don't feed them the whole meal with that medication in there. Just give them a little dollop of that. Also, you want to give that to them when they're hungry, not when they're full, obviously, so they're more apt to eat all of it. If they're not food motivated, then you may be able to administer it through a suspension. Certain medications can be in liquid form. If it's appropriate, we may talk about a prescription food they can eat and not have to give them a pill or medicine.

But we can also help you or teach you how to give your cat medication. If it's a pill, we can show you how to pill a cat. It's always nice to have a partner to help you do that—one to hold and one to give the pill. And you want to do it when they're not paying attention and surprise them. And to save your fingers, they make pillers, which are little extensions. And that would help facilitate getting the pill in the back of the throat.

What if my cat is difficult to medicate?

You should observe them for some time afterward because they can hide it, spit it up, or spit it out if they didn't take it. I would say consult with your veterinarian because many times, there are other options and other delivery methods that might suit your cat better if you're unable to get that medication in there.

Many years before I did this profession, I gave my cat medication, and I thought I got it down, but she started foaming at the mouth. And I thought she was reacting to the medication. I called my veterinarian, and, after going back and forth, he assured me I didn't get it down. So yeah, that's one of the reactions they can have is foaming at the mouth.

Is CBD oil considered a safe and effective cat medication?

We're not currently able to recommend or advise on CBD oil. There are a lot of different variations out there and many different sources. So until there is more information and guidance for that, it's not something we can recommend.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (704) 872-3625, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.

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