Pain medication (NSAIDs) and your cat

A ‘painkiller’ known as a ‘non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug’ (or NSAID) has been prescribed for your cat. These drugs are commonly used in humans and animals to help relive pain, fever and inflammation – most commonly associated with degenerative joint disease. Controlling your cat’s pain is crucial for its welfare. Many cats greatly benefit from these drugs, having better mobility, less pain, increased appetite and an improved quality of life.

Degenerative joint disease (DJD) in cats

Degenerative joint disease (including osteoarthritis) is common, especially in older cats. As with other conditions, cats may mask the signs of this disease.
Problems and behavior changes in cats with DJD include:
  • Decreased activity – e.g., sleeping more, not moving around as much, playing or hunting less
  • Decreased mobility – e.g., reduced willingness to jump, not jumping as high, difficulty using the litter tray, stiffness, and sometimes obvious lameness
  • Decreased grooming – reduced time or difficulty grooming, a poor coat, overgrown claws
  • Altered personality – less keen to interact with people or pets, seeking solitude, ‘grumpier’
  • Other signs – may include aggression or vocalization when touched and loss of appetite
Understanding these changes helps alert you and your vet to the possible existence of pain and DJD, and will help you monitor whether therapy is helpful or not.

Are NSAIDs safe in cats?

NSAIDs play a vital role in therapy for many cats, but differences between cats and other animals mean you should only ever use a drug that has been specifically prescribed for your cat by your veterinarian. Many human drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen and paracetamol/acetaminophen can be highly toxic to cats – administering these is life-threatening.
Adverse effects can be seen with NSAIDs, just as with all drugs. Some patients may be at increased risk of adverse effects (eg, older cats and cats with certain other diseases). Your veterinarian may then recommend increased monitoring and careful adjustment of therapy to find the lowest effective dose of the drug for your cat.


What adverse effects should I look out for?

Licensed NSAIDs have been shown to be safe for use in cats. However, adverse effects can still occur. Most are mild, but some can be serious – as in other species they may be involve the gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, cardiovascular system or liver. Adverse effects may lead to a number of signs including:
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Lethargy and dullness/depression
  • Altered thirst and/or urination
  • Diarrhea and/or black-coloured faeces
  • Yellowing of the skin, gums, or whites of the eyes
What do I need to know?
  • Make sure you understand how much of the drug to give, how frequently, and for how long. If you are unsure, ask your veterinarian.
  • Always give the medication with or after food. Your vet may suggest feeding canned rather than dry food to help encourage good fluid intake, as maintaining a good fluid intake is important.
  • If your cat does not eat, DO NOT give the medication. Contact your veterinarian.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about what monitoring should be done to safeguard your cat – how frequently your cat should be re-examined, what blood and urine tests should be done, and how frequently these should be done.
  • Never give up your cat any other medication at the same time without first speaking to your veterinarian.
  • If at any stage you have concerns, or see any potential adverse effects, STOP giving the medication and contact your veterinarian immediately.
 
Safety first: If you are in any doubt, STOP the medication and TALK to your veterinarian
 

What people have to say...

  • Vet Clinic Testimonial

    Friendly & knowledgeable staff, always happy to see me & my dog Kye. She loves it here I have to literally carry her out! Thanks guys.

  • Vet Clinic Testimonial

    We love East Fremantle Veterinary Clinic. They have been wonderful when treating Dougall.

  • Vet Clinic Testimonial

    The Vets and Staff are fabulous they treat my cats as if they are their own. Had a checkup on my old cat on a condition treatment started for on last Friday ...

  • Vet Clinic Testimonial

    As a family we got our first pup and felt a little lost and overwhelmed as to which vet to join and honestly joining east Fremantle was just the best decisio...

  • Vet Clinic Testimonial

    I always am greeted with a warm happy friendly smile from the girls. Cartier is happy and not worried when she has to come along to the vets, which is a good...

  • Vet Clinic Testimonial

    We are very happy with the service that we receive from the May St Vet Clinic, our cats are like children to us and knowing that your staff care as much abou...

  • Vet Clinic Testimonial

    Always Great and friendly services :) love the people there. Also fantastic puppy school program :) koda absolutely loves it and gets excited every time I sa...

  • Vet Clinic Testimonial

    We have been taking our dogs and cats to EFVC and have had nothing but the very best treatment, support, advice and care for us and our pets. Dr Liam always ...

  • Vet Clinic Testimonial


    I don't believe we've ever had a GP that takes as good care of us the way that East Freo Vet does of Bento. In particular, Dr Milad. He is at...

  • Vet Clinic Testimonial

    We visited the clinic on Saturday September 10 and saw Dr Liam Brown, who was very attentive and knowledgable and treated our dog's skin condition thorou...

  • Vet Clinic Testimonial

    Can't recommend these guys enough. The nurses are always friendly and helpful when I ring up asking for advice. The vets take the time with you in consul...

  • Vet Clinic Testimonial

    I can't say thank you enough to such a wonderful team. Our beloved Fidget (chocolate sproodle) is treated like family at...

  • Vet Clinic Testimonial

    This is by far the best vets in the area very professional and caring everything you want when your taking your one who is scared already, can't say enou...

  • Vet Clinic Testimonial

    Both my dog and my cat have been under their wonderful care, I absolutely treasure these people..So kind,so helpful and great at their jobs!

  • Vet Clinic Testimonial

    I've been taking my fur babies to the team, since day one! Couldn't ask for a more friendly, warm, genuine, caring team. Thank you for all of your su...

  • Vet Clinic Testimonial

    The team at May street always take the utmost care of our fur baby. I have nothing but good things to say about their professionalism, compassion and friendl...

  • Vet Clinic Testimonial

    Dr Liam and staff are fantastic. Always friendly and helpful and Molly, Wallace and Gromit are always welcomed with lots of pats and cuddles. They also take ...

  • Vet Clinic Testimonial

    Liam is the most amazing vet. I highly recommend this wonderful practice with the most caring and practical service.

  • Vet Clinic Testimonial

    I love coming to this very friendly and warm place. All the staff are wonderful!

  • Vet Clinic Testimonial

    There must be about 20 clinics closer in location to where I live; but this clinic has it all! A small team where people talk to each other and everyone actu...

  • Vet Clinic Testimonial

    Thank you so much for looking after George - he loves all the staff at your clinic!