Gabapentin For Cats: Usage, Safety, Dosage and Side Effects

45 Comments on Gabapentin For Cats: Usage, Safety, Dosage and Side Effects Share Email Pinterest Linkedin Twitter Facebook

Gabapentin for Cats Feature

 

Gabapentin is a common medication used in both pets and people to address certain painful conditions and as added control for seizure conditions. In pets, it is also often used for mild sedation for stressful situations and for car travel, especially in cats.

Gabapentin For Cats Overview

Medication Type:
Anticonvulsant
Form:
Liquid, Topical Cream or Gel
Prescription Required?:
Yes
FDA Approved?:
No
Brand Names:
Neurontin®, Aclonium®, Equipax®, Gantin®, Gabarone®
Common Names:
Gabapentin
Available Dosages:
Tablets: 100, 300, 400, 600, & 800 mg, Oral Slution: 50 mg/ml

So can cats take gabapentin? They sure can! In this article, you’ll learn what gabapentin is, how it works, and some safety guidelines regarding dosage for kitties. We’ll also cover some frequently asked questions.

What Is Gabapentin?

Gabapentin is a medication kind of in a class by itself, classified as an anticonvulsant neuropathic pain analgesic. True to its classification, it has a couple of different indications.

Its most common use in pets is as a pain medication, especially for neuropathic pain. Neuropathic pain is described by humans who experience it as a shooting or burning pain. Neuropathic pain is most often associated with nerves or the nervous system.

While not a good medication for seizures on its own in pets, it may be added on as adjunctive therapy for difficult to control seizure conditions.

The most common brand name for gabapentin is Neurontin, but it does come in generic forms as well.

What Does Gabapentin Do For Cats?

Gabapentin for Cats at Vet

Gabapentin is used as a pain medication for chronic pain and, sometimes, to help calm down frightened cats.

In cats, gabapentin is most often used as a pain medication for chronic pain, such as from arthritis.

Gabapentin has also been recognized to be beneficial in reducing the fear responses that a kitty may have to the stress of handling and being examined at the vet.

It’s common for vets to prescribe a single dose of it to be given a couple of hours prior to veterinary visits to provide some sedation and help examination and handling to be less stressful for certain patients.

Anecdotally, it also appears to help keep some cats much calmer for car or plane travel and may be recommended to help make longer trips less stressful.

Studies have not shown gabapentin to be as effective for acute pain in cats as some other medications like buprenorphine, and so it is less commonly prescribed for a sudden onset of a painful condition, or after surgery.

Gabapentin Side Effects In Cats

The most common side effects seen in cats with gabapentin are lethargy and abnormal walking/movement, which is called ataxia. It is important to note that some of these effects may be expected or even desired when gabapentin is used intentionally as a sedative. Effects typically start to wear off within 12 hours.

Gabapentin should be used cautiously in cats with liver or kidney disease, as we may see it take longer for the effects to wear off. Its use should typically be avoided in pregnant queens.

Gabapentin Dosage For Cats

The dosage for gabapentin may vary depending on a cat’s size, as well as whether it’s being used as a pain medication, adjunctive anticonvulsant, or as a sedative before vet visits or travel.

From a safety perspective, a gabapentin dosage for cats will typically not exceed 50-100mg per cat to address pain or when being used as a sedative.

As a sedative, it is often given a couple of hours prior to an examination at the vet clinic or before getting in the car or on a plane.

Many vets feel that the sedative effect is better when an additional dose is given 24 hours prior (followed by the second dose closer to the vet visit or travel). As a pain medication, it is most often given every 12 hours to start, but may be increased to every 8 hours if needed.

These are just general guidelines, and it is very important to follow your veterinarian’s recommendations very specifically for the most effective and safe use of this medication.

Dosage Forms Of Gabapentin

Sick,Cat,Medicines,For,Sick,Pills,Spilling,Out,Of,Bottle

There is no specific veterinary form of gabapentin for pets, and it is always the human medication form that is used in an extra-label or off-label manner, which is common in veterinary medicine.

The most common form of gabapentin is a capsule containing powder, with the prescribed amount mixed with canned or soft food.

The 100mg capsule is the most common size prescribed for cats. Gabapentin also comes in a 50mg/ml liquid form that does require refrigeration.

The commercial liquid form may contain the artificial sweetener xylitol. While not toxic to cats, xylitol is toxic to dogs, so be careful with this form if there’s a pup in your home.

To make dosing easier, especially for smaller cats, gabapentin can also be ordered as a compounded medication in different forms by your veterinarian.

How Does Gabapentin Work?

How gabapentin for cats works

It’s not clear exactly how this unique medication works, but it appears to inhibit the release of certain excitatory neurotransmitters.

Gabapentin is a unique medication and its mechanism of action as both a pain medication, sedative, and as an add-on drug for seizures, is not completely understood. It is thought that it binds to a subunit of calcium channels, inhibiting the release of excitatory neurotransmitters like substance P, glutamate, and norepinephrine.

Gabapentin As A Controlled Substance

Within the last couple of years, gabapentin has become a controlled, scheduled substance in some parts of the United States and Europe.

In the United States, it is a Schedule V substance in AL, KY, MI, ND, TN, VA, and WV. There are several other additional states where it is not officially scheduled, but is subject to additional monitoring procedures when prescribed.

In Europe, it is classified as a Class C controlled drug in the United Kingdom.

Depending on your location, because of restrictions imposed by controlled status, your veterinarian may not be able to prescribe gabapentin for your kitty without an examination, and recheck exams may be needed for refills. An exception may include prescribing it in advance to help with sedation for an exam, but a telemedicine consult may still be required.

You may also find that because of the additional record-keeping and restrictions, that your vet office may not carry gabapentin in locations where it is controlled, and may alternatively provide a prescription to pick it up at a local pharmacy, instead of at the office itself.

In Summary

Gabapentin is a commonly-prescribed medication for cats, used most often for chronic pain conditions, and as a pre-medication to relieve stress or anxiety before veterinary exams or travel.

Also Read: Cat Separation Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment

It is typically very safe to use when following dosing instructions by a veterinarian. If your feline friend is on gabapentin and you have questions about dosage or changes, it’s very important to call your vet’s office for the best recommendations catered to your kitty.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Gabapentin Should I Give My Cat?

It’s really important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions for specific dosage depending on your kitty’s weight and the purpose for using it. However, from a safety perspective, most doses for cats will rarely exceed 50-100mg per cat.

Does Gabapentin Sedate Cats?

Gabapentin is often used as a sedative for cats, but the sedative effect largely depends on dose, which is why it’s very important to follow your vet’s advice when using it for this purpose. If your cat is on gabapentin as a pain medication or for adjunctive seizure control and he or she seems really sedate when taking it, make sure to contact your veterinarian for advice on adjusting the dosage.

What Happens if You Forget to Refrigerate Gabapentin for Cats?

The powdered capsules remain stable at room temperature (even up to about 85 degrees, 30 degrees C), and don’t require refrigeration. The commercial 50mg/ml liquid Neurontin does need to be stored in the fridge and is most stable between 36-46 degrees F (2-8 degrees C). There are some reports that it can remain stable out of refrigeration for up to 7 days at up to 85 degrees F (30 degrees C).

Essentially, if you find you left your cat’s liquid gabapentin out for a short period, like an hour or two, it’s likely not a problem. If it was left out overnight or longer, make sure to contact your vet’s office for the best advice on what to do. Liquid gabapentin left out will not become dangerous or toxic for a kitty, but may lose some of its efficacy.

If you have a compounded form of gabapentin that requires refrigeration, it’s best to contact the specific compounding pharmacy for advice if it’s left out, because requirements may differ depending on the compounding methods.

Avatar photo

About Dr. Chris Vanderhoof, DVM, MPH

Dr. Chris Vanderhoof is a 2013 graduate of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine (VMCVM) at Virginia Tech, where he also earned a Masters in Public Health. He completed a rotating internship with Red Bank Veterinary Hospital in New Jersey and now works as a general practitioner in the Washington D.C. area. Dr. Vanderhoof is also a copywriter specializing in the animal health field and founder of Paramount Animal Health Writing Solutions, which can be found at www.animalhealthcopywriter.com. Dr. Vanderhoof lives in the Northern Virginia area with his family, including 3 cats.

45 thoughts on “Gabapentin For Cats: Usage, Safety, Dosage and Side Effects

  1. Mary Brunner

    My cat has been on Gabepentin liquid for 10 days,, twice a day for acute ear infection in both ears..He has ear drops, and .
    .7 mg. Of Gabepentin twice a day..His left ear is still bothering him..Our vet said he doesn’t need tapering off. Of Gabepentin .I think he does..
    Also my cat won’t wear a cone..He just ran out of Gabepentin…Im afraid he’ll start scratching his ears like before..I need your opinion..
    Thank you!!

    Reply
    1. Avatar photoDr. Chris Vanderhoof, DVM, MPH Post author

      Hi Mary,

      I’m sorry to hear about your kitty’s ear infections.

      Your vet knows your kitty and his condition far better than I do, and it is important to follow his or her instructions, but here’s some thoughts that I hope are helpful.

      While your vet likely prescribed gabapentin to help with the discomfort and irritation the infection causes, the most important thing is treating the infection itself with, I assume, the antimicrobial ear drops you mentioned. Your veterinarian may have advised a follow-up visit to have the ears rechecked. If you’re still seeing an issue in one ear, rechecking is the best thing to do. Your vet may collect some samples to see if there is still growth present. Some ear infections can take a couple of rounds of treatment to resolve.

      Some of your information about the gabapentin is conflicting. At first you mention you’d like your cat to be tapered off of gabapentin. But on the other hand, you mention that he just ran out and you’re concerned he still needs it. I would say that gabapentin can be continued if it’s helping your cat’s discomfort while he’s being treated for the infection, and he’s not too sedate with it. It’s very well tolerated at properly prescribed dosages.

      But the underlying infection is what is most important to address. I would make sure to follow your vet’s instructions for follow-up.

      Reply
    2. K. Kilgore

      My healthy 18 year old, female orange tabby cat, was given a single dose of Gabapentin only once. After that day, she lost her drive to live. She started not eating and if she did it was only a little bit. She didn’t meet me at door when I came home, rub up next to me or meow for me to wake up in the morning. It all stopped after that one dose.
      And then one month later, she died.
      It’s now been three months that she died in my arms. I still tear up when I come home and she’s not here. It’s been very painful being without my best friend.
      Please don’t give this horrible drug to your cat!

      Reply
  2. Ruth

    Hello, my cat has been on Gabapentin for almost a month do to a fall from the balcony. The fall caused her chest/stomach area skin to die. Now the dead skin finally fell off and the wound is almost closed up. She is behaving like her normal self after stopping Gabapentin for about 24 hrs. I was giving it to her ever 8 then switched to 12hrs. My question is can I just stop giving her Gabapentin completely? I feel she no longer needs it and no longer looks uncomfortable or in pain. Would she be ok?

    Reply
    1. small mallory photoMallory Crusta

      Hello Ruth, since the gabapentin was primarily being used as a pain medication and your cat no longer seems to be in pain, I would guess that she may be able to go without it. However, I am not a veterinarian, and this is a question for your vet. I’d advise calling your vet, describing her behavior, and asking if they believe it advisable to go off of the gabapentin at this time.

      Reply
  3. Tara R

    We were recently chosen by a feral cat that wanted to turn in her feral card and become a house cat. During her vet health check visits we mentioned that she seemed to struggle going up steps, hopping up to small heights, and that she excessively licks her front paws. They prescribed her 50mg of liquid Gabapentin. It had made a huge difference in minimizing any pain and she started going upstairs to explore more. She only licks one small spot on one leg now, instead of all legs like before, and her fur has grown back in those areas. For anyone wondering if they should give their cats Gabapentin for arthritis/nerve pain, I say try it out and see if your cat feels better. I have been on Gabapentin for the past 3 years for my arthritis and sciatica pain (yup, me and my kitty take the same meds) and it’s done wonders for me too! Always talk with your vet and follow their instructions for how much and to dose your cat and for how long.

    Reply
  4. Dorrel

    My cat had bloody urine and straining to urinated, the vet diagnosed him with Pandora Syndrome! The Dr. gave him buprenez, cosequin and gabapentin . I’m really confused out these medications , can you help me understand why and what each medications do to treat his urinary problem? Thank you

    Reply
    1. small mallory photoMallory Crusta

      Hi Dorrel, this is really a question best addressed by your veterinarian. Please don’t hesitate to give them a call and ask for more details on the medications and the rationale behind the prescription.

      Reply
  5. Avatar photoDr. Chris Vanderhoof, DVM, MPH Post author

    Hi Dorrel, sorry to hear your kitty is having a hard time!

    Mallory is correct. If you are uncertain about a particular drug or medication that has been prescribed for a pet, it’s always best to have those questions answered by the doctor who last examined your kitty and prescribed those medications.

    But in case there are some similar questions out there, here’s a brief, general summary. Pandora Syndrome in cats has become a more recently used term to explain how many body systems of a cat may be affected by a centralized stress response. One of the most common ways this appears to present in kitties is through urinary tract inflammation.

    A vet may choose to treat these kitties very individually and based on their experience of the best outcomes. Generally, pain medications like buprenex and gabapentin appear to help episodes because they can help a kitty to both relax and not strain if they’re in less discomfort. Many vets will use glucosamine in these cases too, as it is used naturally by the body for protection of the urinary tract. That’s where your Cosequin comes in.

    The veternary field has been struggling the last year or so to meet the high need and demand that has developed. This does sometimes translate into shorter appointments where we’re not able to explain everything as much as we’d like. A lot can also happen and be discussed during a vet appointment that may be hard to recall later. If you ever feel confused about what your kitty is being treated for, what is being used, and what the future plan is, I encourage folks to reach out to their veterinarian by phone, email, etc., as they will be able to provide the best response catered to your cat’s condition and needs.

    Reply
  6. Corinne Hunter

    Dr. Vanderhoof; my vet and I think my cat may have Hyperesthesia Syndrome, but mostly the neurological aspect. He is a rescue so we don’t know about the first 6 years of his life. We have had him for 4 and recently he is exhibiting a type of seizure behavior. He stops on a dime, and does a little stare into nothing and then runs and hides. We had him into the vet and all his vitals are normal. We haven’t gone as far as an MRI or neurological exams. The vet prescribed gabapentin- initially 50 mg liquid with only gave him a little relief. Finally in capsule form 100mg every 12 hrs, he seems to only have a couple of really mild seizures. I’d curious what you know about Hyperesthesia Syndrome or if you know of this condition as my cat exhibits, without the chewing and skin rolling. Any additional information will be helpful as we have just begun on this new health path. Thank you so much. Corinne Hunter

    Reply
    1. Avatar photoDr. Chris Vanderhoof, DVM, MPH Post author

      Hi Corinne,

      Thank you for sharing about your kitty. Feline hyperesthesia syndrome is certainly an odd one that we don’t fully understand, and there is some disagreement about what these cats are experiencing. The opinion I most ascribe to can be found here at a page for the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine (https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/hyperesthesia-syndrome).

      The neurologist I worked with in my internship hailed from Cornell and studied with Dr. de Lahunta. He felt that many cats with hyperesthesia may have some kind of focal seizure disorder, though pain from arthritis or intervertebral discs putting pressure on the spinal cord could be affecting some cats. I have certainly seen some cats with issues in their back behave very strangely.

      As you can see in the article, gabapentin is a reasonable medication to try. It has some effect as a mild anticonvulsant for seizures, treats pain especially nerve pain, and functions to calm many cats down which may help if there is any stress or anxiety aggravating the condition. Unfortunately in many cases, a specific cause of the signs can’t be determined, and so empirically treating with a medication like gabapentin helps to cover most of the possible causes and seems to help out the kitty. Your vet is on the right track and it sounds like your cat is experiencing some relief so far.

      Reply
  7. Vicki Meyer

    My cat came from a farm where her mother and siblings were killed by a fox. She is a scaredy-cat when someone enters a room or moves fast. She wants to play but she bites. When scolded or put down she goes into attack mode, pulls her ears and head back and lunges with teeth bared. We’ve tried a squirt bottle, rolled up newspaper, etc. but she continues to bite. I tried Feliway with no results. Now my vet has put her on Gabapentin to calm her down. She’s calmer but still wants to bite. If I continue giving that to her, can it be long term?
    My hands are bit up, she even tries to bite my face when I’m sleeping. Please help!

    Reply
    1. Avatar photoDr. Chris Vanderhoof, DVM, MPH Post author

      Hi Vicki,
      Gabapentin’s effect does help to calm and provide mild sedation, but it does not address underlyling causes of stress, fear, anxiety, etc. If your kitty is calmer, this may be the most you can expect from gabapentin. Just like it can be used as a long-term pain medication, it can be used longterm to help with calming if it has a visible benefit. However, if your cat is actively biting you or family members, this is not a good or safe situation. Cat bites can be very serious. I would consider having a further discussion with your vet about behavior-modifying medications options that could be considered and consulting with a board certified veterinary behaviorist if one is present in your area.

      Reply
    1. Avatar photoDr. Chris Vanderhoof, DVM, MPH Post author

      Hi Tammy,
      Generally, there is no documented age limitation for gabapentin and it is a very safe medication in cats. A dose for a kitten that small would need to be appropriately adjusted for a small weight. If this kitten is painful, the pain does need to be addressed and there are limited options we have in cats to do this. As long as it is dosed properly, gabapentin should be a safe option. Of course, if your friend has concerns, it would be important to discuss the dosing with the vet that prescribed it.

      Reply
  8. Tom

    We have always had difficulty getting our 9-year-old rescue cat to the vet. None of the tricks for getting her into the carrier work any longer. She is very mild mannered, but is petrified of being “caught.” Now she actually needs to see a vet, but no vet will prescribe a sedative without examining her – if we could do that, we wouldn’t need it! Is it stupid for us to consider gabapectin as a way to get her sleepy enough to be put into a carrier? Her health is good.She was sedated once before, a few years ago when she had her teeth cleaned.

    Reply
    1. Avatar photoDr. Chris Vanderhoof, DVM, MPH Post author

      Hi Tom,
      Yours is not an uncommon problem! A dose of gabapentin the day before and a couple hours prior may help with catching her to get her into a carrier by making her less panicked and more mellow. Some vet practices will allow for a single dose or two to be dispensed under “fear-free” practices to help with travel or an exam, which would be worth asking about.

      Reply
    2. small mallory photoMallory Crusta

      You may be able to get a prescription from a remote vet , which would eliminate the need to bring her in to get that prescription. Other than that, I would think about considering some of the steps in this article on how to get your cat into a carrier. You may find that changing your approach is enough to reduce her anxiety just enough to get her in there.

      Reply
  9. Samantha Acevedo

    If my cat is on gabapentin for 7 days and it’s been 2 days already and she’s feeling better can I stop giving it to her and she will be fine. Also she is a 1 year old cat with no health problem she just had pain in her leg and that’s why her vet gave her the medication in our last visit.

    Reply
    1. Avatar photoDr. Chris Vanderhoof, DVM, MPH Post author

      Hi Samantha,
      If this is considered to be a minor injury and your vet was just looking to keep your kitty comfortable until she recovered, and you feel that she has recovered and is no longer in pain, stopping the gabapentin is reasonable. I always like to hear from pet parents when their pets are doing better though, so make sure to let your vet know with a quick email, text, or voicemail!

      Reply
  10. Claire Wilson

    I have a 17-ish year old kitty who weighs about 7 lbs. For some months now, she has been meowing constantly, keeping me awake at night, night after night. She takes two 50 mg. tabs of gabapentin daily but it does nothing (and costs me $100/mo.). She also takes .50 mg. of Xanax a day, and large doses of CBD oil. None of it works and the vet is unresponsive in that he won’t change medication doses or meds. Prozac doesn’t work. She spit it all out. I can’t surrender her to a shelter, she’ll just die in a cage. She’s otherwise healthy for 17 but I am considering putting her down as a more humane alternative to a shelter. Do you have any ideas on different meds or doses? Thank you.

    Reply
    1. small mallory photoMallory Crusta

      Claire, do you know what might be the underlying cause of this issue? It sounds like your cat may be experiencing dementia, but hyperthyroidism, dental pain, arthritis, or another health issue may be to blame. Identifying the underlying cause of the problem will help you to properly address it. Regardless, you can try to alleviate some of your cat’s stress and attention-seeking behavior by providing Feliway or another synthetic feline pheromone diffuser. Made to mimic the chemical messengers cats use to mark territory and bond with other cats, these synthetic pheromones can help cats to feel more calm and confident in the home. Regular play and other forms of stimulation may also help. You can also try feeding your cat a small, high-protein, low-carbohydrate meal just before bed to alleviate any hunger pangs and keep her restful through the evening. Finally, you can think about giving her the Prozac in a different form. It’s available in a transdermal gel in addition to tablets, so you can apply this without having her “spit” it out.

      Hope this can help you and your cat!

      Reply
      1. Claire Wilson

        I have considered all of those things in addition to having her thyroid tested. She has dementia and is deaf. Can you please tell me what brand of prescription human grade liquid gabapentin I can give her. There is some question about liquid gabapentin having xylitol in it which may be toxic to cats. Please have the vet respond. Thank you. And Feliway? Really? Not.

        Reply
  11. Avatar photoDr. Chris Vanderhoof, DVM, MPH Post author

    Hi Claire,

    I’m sorry to hear about your kitty, I know such situations are frustrating. Our family cat when I was growing up did something similar as he got older, where he’d pace the house and howl at night.

    You are already doing a lot for her and it’s possible your vet doesn’t want to change or remove anything for the possibility of things getting worse.( i.e., the meds she’s on may be helping to an extent and she might be worse without them, though they’re unable to fully address the issue.)

    It sounds like the gabapentin tablets you’re using are compounded. If you have trouble with the tablets and want to try liquid, you would likely want to get it compounded as well, since it can be usefully flavored.

    On drugs.com, the gabapentin brand Neurontin is stated to have xylitol in the inactive ingredients, as well as a wild cherry flavor that may be hit or miss with some cats. While xylitol is not as dangerous to cats as it is to dogs, we still prefer to avoid it.

    Other liquid forms of gabapentin are generic and xylitol content will greatly depend on what a pharmacy carries. Your vet would need to discuss this with a pharmacist if ordering it. But that’s why getting it ordered from a compounding pharmacy would be safer in that regard. Compounding can also help to reduce the volume needed for a liquid medication. I always aim for a ¼ ml with cats and generic liquid gabapentin would be 1ml for 50mg.

    Mallory is correct that getting the fluoxetine compounded may also be helpful. Either a flavored liquid or transdermal could be considered if tablets are not working well.

    The only other medication you could ask your vet about might be selegiline. If your kitty really does have cognitive dysfunction, selegiline may help. It is labeled only for dogs, but some studies in cats have suggested it may be beneficial. It may interact with the fluoxetine, which might need to be discontinued before trying it.

    I have no experience using selegiline in cats myself and my suggestion is theoretical, but with limited options, it might be worth bringing up with your vet.

    It’s also a longshot, but sometimes, melatonin can help with issues sleeping at night. The dose is 1.5-6mg per cat before bed and can be found over the counter. It can also be compounded into different forms as well. It’s considered more of a supplement/neutraceutical vs. a medication. It can potentiate the effects of the xanax, which may or may not be desireable, so check with your vet and/or start at the low end of the dose range. My experience with it is a little hit or miss. The label for a liquid form would need to be checked for xylitol and flavoring as well.

    Euthanasia is a hard thing to consider. For me, this choice may depend on how good of a quality of life you feel she has at other times besides the howling at night. Our family kitty was fine the rest of the time. Sometimes, we’d use earplugs on our end to help with the night howls.

    There’s no easy fix to your situation, but I hope that info is helpful.

    Reply
  12. Tia10

    Regarding feline dementia, my old boy used to yowl on the stairs at night. I figured he might be ‘lost’ so I’d go get him & bring him up to sleep with me. He’d then settle quite happily under the duvet where he felt safe, often lying back to back with me. The body heat helped soothe his arthritis too I think. Might be worth trying with yours, not necessarily into your bed but try taking him to his own bed. All the best!

    Reply
  13. Ryan Bagnal

    This is a fantastic article with a lot of good information in it. FYI, gabapentin is not a controlled substance and is not currently scheduled as such. To my knowledge, it has never been a controlled substance. Despite its sedative effect, its mechanism of action is so different than benzos and other anxiety meds, and it has a HUGE margin of safety. Since an overdose usually just causes excess sedation but no permanent damage, it is remarkably safe. Again, it is not a controlled substance as of May 29, 2022. 🙂

    Reply
  14. Debbie Gallagher

    My almost 19-year-old cat diagnosed this past Tuesday with Stage 2 renal failure. I adopted her and another cat from our human society on the same day. They were both six months old. Unfortunately, the other cat – a beautiful orange British shorthair, had to be euthanized. She was 17 and also had renal issues. It doesn’t seem than any of the compound medications helped her and maybe I prolonged her life unnecessarily. Now, like her sister, this cat will not eat the prescribed food – with or without the sprinkles. Today I was able to get almost all of the 0.4 ml of liquid Gabapentin 100mg into her mouth. It’s the first time I’ve used it. Wow. She is so messed up. She can’t walk straight, and her legs seem weak. She can barely voice a meow. I read that with the proper health care, a cat with renal disease can live up to three additional years. But like this? I don’t know. I think, as with her sister, I should make a decision about her quality of life and whether this is it. Honestly, I feel like this treatment plan is really just a preparation for the inevitable. Sorry for the long post.

    Reply
    1. Avatar photoDr. Chris Vanderhoof, DVM, MPH Post author

      Hi Debbie,

      I’m sorry to hear your kitty is having a difficult time with kidney disease.

      It sounds like there may be three parts to your question that I can provide answers for.

      First, the duration of kidney disease depends on when it’s diagnosed. If we detect it very early, it is true that a cat can live for a couple of years if progression is able to be slowed. Slowing progression is best done with a prescription diet. However, sometimes it is not diagnosed until later on when weight loss or appetite decline are more noticeable to folks at home.

      If a kitty will no longer eat a prescription diet or will not eat it to begin with if disease is further along that appetite is already very picky, most vets would agree that it’s best to ensure a kitty is getting calories with a food she’ll eat, even if it’s not ideal for kidney disease. There are fortunately several prescription diet options available, so sometimes, you can try changing to a different one before moving to over the counter diets.

      Although possibly already discussed with your vet, there are other supportive therapy options available for chronic kidney disease kitties, including anti-nausea medication, appetite stimulants, and fluids under the skin at home if feasible, that can sometimes help with quality of life.

      Second, while I can’t confirm you’re seeing gabapentin side effects, it is true that some of the signs you describe could be seen with gabapentin, including sedation, weakness, and difficulty walking especially with the back legs. Use of gabapentin should always be a balance between managing discomfort and limiting side effects. If you haven’t already, make sure to discuss these signs you’re seeing with your vet to see if a dosage adjustment may help or if another cause may be responsible.

      Third, it sounds like you may be contemplating end of life care. This is never easy, especially for a companion you’ve had for so long. There are 4 quality of life factors that I have folks look at to help objectively decide if end of life care may be best. These include 1. Appetite (is it good or is it poor/absent) 2. Mobility (can we get around to do our basic needs) 3. Pain (and if we’re able to manage it well) 4. Nursing care (and if the intensity of it is stressful for a pet and the pet parents).

      If a pet is failing to meet 2 or more of these 4 criteria favorably, then euthanasia may be okay to be thinking about. While I cannot provide specific advice for you on these points, hopefully they may help you evaluate your kitty’s condition and help in speaking to your vet about end of life decisions.

      Reply
      1. Debbie

        Thank you for your comments and suggestions. Honestly, I am just happy that she’s eating and drinking, so I am not going to get too worried about the prescription meds. It’s there if she wants it. I’ve already gotten used to the reality that despite my best efforts, the carpet in my home will need to be replaced. That’s okay. I will speak with my Vet about the dosage and perhaps the next steps. Thank you again.

        Reply
    2. Avatar photoKate Barrington

      I’m so sorry to hear your cat isn’t doing well, Debbie. You definitely have a tough decision to make but it sounds like you really have your cat’s best interests at heart.

      Reply
  15. Rachael

    Hello, I have a compounded intradermal gabapentin cream for my cat for travel anxiety. I am planning to drive three hours with her tomorrow, and was planning to give her one dose tonight and another in the morning. Unfortunately, I just checked and the medication expired on 7/20/2022. It’s after 5 on Friday so no chance of getting a refill in time. The cream never required refrigeration. Do you know if it is safe to give to her anyway? This may be a long shot, but I hope to hear from you! Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Avatar photoDr. Chris Vanderhoof, DVM, MPH Post author

      Hi Rachel, I’m sorry this likely didn’t reach you before your trip, but hopefully the info can still be helpful. I wouldn’t be able to comment specifically for a compounded medication simply because only the compounding pharmacy would really be able to provide details on shelf-life for a product they’ve uniquely developed. That said, shelf life is typically more about continued medication efficacy vs. safety. Many medications can still have efficacy only a short time following their shelf-life expiration but it may dissipate over time. If this medication has been useful for your kitty, I would suggest getting an updated refill to avoid continued use of the expired product.

      Reply
  16. Tamara Hammerly

    My two cats are getting their first grooming, the vet gave me syringes with Gabapentin in them three weeks ago for the visit to the groomers to help keep calm,I did not see anything about putting in the refrigerator ,is it safe to give it to them?

    Reply
    1. Avatar photoDr. Chris Vanderhoof, DVM, MPH Post author

      Hi Tamara, I unfortunately can’t answer that question directly for you. That form of gabapentin would have to be a compounded liquid and as compounded preparations can differ in how they’re made and their need to be refrigerated or not depending on the compounding pharmacy, you would have to ask your veterinarian about refrigeration needs and shelf life. That information would be on the original stock bottle your doses were taken from. Probably if that was not indicated to you when you received the doses, they may not need refrigeration, but it would always be best to check first.

      Reply
  17. Sally Smith

    My 15 year old cat has renal disease & heart failure & has 2.5mg benazepril each night & 20mg frusemide three times/day. He now has some pain in his back legs & possibly his hips & my vet has given me some 100mg capsules of gabapentin. My gorgeous cat is wonderful with taking tablets (just as well) but I think the capsules are too big to put down his throat so I emptied some of the powder into his food & mixed it in well. He didn’t eat it & when I taste tested the powder, it was quite bitter (I know our taste buds are not the same as cats but it was just to get an idea) When I checked the doses for pain in cats via the Pet Centre – think it’s in the US & I’m in Oz (Tasmania), it had 1.5mg – 5mg per pound then 1.25mg – 2.5mg per kilogram – surely that is topsy-turvy??? There are 2.2 pounds to a kilogram, so I think the per/kg dose should be higher – I am confused! Please comment, thank you.

    Reply
    1. Avatar photoDr. Chris Vanderhoof, DVM, MPH Post author

      Hi Sally,

      While I can’t provide you with a specific dosage, I can try to give you an idea of what’s typical to expect when using gabapentin for cats.

      Most often we’re not dosing the capsule itself for cats, as you’re right, it’s a little difficult to do.

      The commercially available capsules are typically easy to open so that the powder inside can be mixed with canned or soft food.

      The effective doses for cats can be variable depending on their size, weight, condition, and sensitivity to the medication. That said, for most cats a dose between 25mg to 100mg is common. Your vet can help you determine the right dosing depending on how your cat responds at an initial starting dose that’s prescribed.

      It is also possible to have gabapentin compounded by a compounding pharmacy into a small tablet or liquid etc. depending on what’s available in your area. This can also be a way to generally help flavor more bitter-tasting medications.

      I do agree with your comment on the mg per kg dose you found. I can’t validate the source you’re referring to, but a mg/kg dose will typically be expressed as twice what a mg/lb dose is since, as you said, a kg is equivalent to about 2lb.

      Reply
      1. Sally Smith.

        Thank you for replying. I am a retired pharmacist & normally wouldn’t be confused about mg/kg doses but I tend to worry overmuch. My vet said my cat could have up to one capsule daily but this was 2nd hand from my spouse as he took Percy to see our vet.
        My cat is about 4.9kg (8.5kg in his prime, he’s a Norwegian Forest cat). I will try & find a strong flavoured food & mix about half of the capsule powder into it. I think he can detect the different taste, it will have to be quite a big portion of food but he is eating for Australia at present. No compounding chemists in my area – not even for humans, it’s over-regulated so they just won’t do it. Once again, thank you for attending to my worries.

        Reply
  18. Bonnie Svarstad

    I’m traveling cross country by air in Oct with a rescue cat that I adopted 3 months ago. She’s become very trusting in a short time but becomes very anxious and aggressive when I try to place her in carrier for vet visit. Vet just prescribed 100 mg 2-3 hrs before vet visit. What might you suggest for air travel in this case? She’s 4yo and 11 lbs. Flight will last about 7 hrs. Would you suggest a dose the night before early morning flight? And what about dosing guideline for a longish flight? Thx!!

    Reply
    1. Avatar photoDr. Chris Vanderhoof, DVM, MPH Post author

      Hi Bonnie,
      It’s always important when something is prescribed for travel or for stressful situations, to see how the prescribed dose works under normal, non-stressful conditions first. After using at home, get in touch with your vet if you have concerns that you didn’t see any sedative-like effects, or if your kitty seemed too sedate (but remember that a lot of sedation at home may mean a sufficient amount in more stressful situations). When you and your vet find a dose that works well for vet visits, this dose is likely to be sufficient for travel as well. Gabapentin should last for close to 12 hours, which is typcally enough for most travel. Many veterinarians do advise giving a dose the night before in addition to 2-3 hours prior to a stressful event. Make sure to work with your vet to see if that strategy will work for visits, and that should also work well for travel too.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *