Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in cats

At some point when you check your home medicine cabinet for pain medications in cats, you will find aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and acetaminophen, and you will wonder, can I use them as  painkillers for cats ?

Before giving your cat any of these products, consult your vet! A pain reliever for you may not be suitable for your cat and may even harm her.

The antiinflammatory drugs drugs (or NSAIDs) are drugs that act to reduce inflammation and pain. They are frequently used in humans and animals to help relieve pain, fever, and inflammation.

They can be used for short-term pain control (surgery) or to prevent long-term pain (degenerative joint disease and arthritis)

Controlling your cat’s pain is crucial to its well-being. Many cats benefit greatly from these medications, as they have better mobility, less pain, increased appetite, and a better quality of life.

In this article, you will indicate which anti-inflammatories you can use with your cat and their characteristics:

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

These drugs are used in people as well as in animals for their analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-fever properties. Veterinarians also often use NSAIDs to control pain after surgery in dogs and cats.

How NSAIDs Work

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs attack the prostaglandins that the body releases in reaction to irritation or injury. When a cell is damaged, the enzyme cyclooxygenase (COX) is activated . An enzyme is a protein produced by the body that stimulates a specific reaction that produces a certain result.

The COX enzyme stimulates cells to produce various substances, including prostaglandins, after cells are damaged. COX is present in most tissues in the body, including the digestive tract (stomach and intestines) and kidneys.

The prostaglandins are present throughout the body and have various functions:

  • Contribute to pain, inflammation, and fever.
  • Protect the lining of the stomach and intestines.
  • Helps maintain blood flow to the kidneys.
  • Supports platelet function.

Many NSAIDs work by blocking COX, so less prostaglandins are produced , and  others block the activity of certain prostaglandins. Either way, pain and inflammation are reduced in animals.

But because these drugs also interfere with the positive functions of prostaglandins, they can cause side effects, some of which are serious.

Side effects of NSAIDs

Some of the more common side effects of NSAIDs are:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Decrease in activity.
  • Thirst or altered urination.
  • Diarrhea and / or black stools.
  • Yellowing of the skin, gums, or the whites of the eyes.

Other side effects include stomach and intestinal ulcers or perforations, kidney failure, liver failure, and death. These effects are mainly seen in the digestive tract, kidneys, and liver.

The digestive tract (stomach and intestines)

As a direct effect, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, being slightly acidic, irritate the stomach lining.

Indirect effects are due to NSAIDs preventing the body from producing prostaglandins or blocking the protective activity of these substances. When fewer prostaglandins are generated or some of their activity is blocked, the entire digestive tract can be more prone to damage, which can lead to ulcers and perforations in the stomach and intestines.


When there is a decrease in blood flow to the kidneys, such as when an animal is dehydrated, under anesthesia, or has kidney disease, prostaglandins cause the arteries to the kidneys to open. This helps keep blood flowing to these vital organs.

As NSAIDs prevent the production of prostaglandins or block some prostaglandin activity, these drugs can reduce blood flow to the kidneys, possibly causing kidney damage and causing sudden kidney failure.


The side effects of NSAIDs on the liver can be divided into two: dose-dependent toxicity; and dose-independent toxicity.

In dose-dependent liver toxicity, the higher the dose of the NSAID, the worse the liver damage.

Dose-independent liver toxicity can occur at any dose, even the correct one, and is an unpredictable reaction in which the cat’s liver has an abnormal sensitivity to NSAIDs. Most of the liver damage associated with NSAIDs occurs within the first three weeks of starting the drug.

What anti-inflammatory is good for cats?

Only two NSAIDs are FDA approved for cats: Meloxicam (sold under various brand names) and Robenacoxib (sold under the brand name ONSIOR).

Meloxicam is approved for cats as a one-time injection to control pain and inflammation after spaying, neutering, and orthopedic surgery. The injection is given under the cat’s skin before surgery.

Robenacoxib is also approved for cats to control pain and inflammation after spaying, neutering, and orthopedic surgery. The drug should be used once a day for no more than three days and is available as a tablet taken by mouth or as an injection.

Currently, no NSAIDs are approved for long-term use in cats . More than one dose of Meloxicam in cats can cause kidney failure or death, and the effects of long-term use of other NSAIDs in cats are unknown. Cats are more sensitive than dogs to the side effects of NSAIDs because they cannot break down medications either.

All FDA-approved NSAIDs for cats require a prescription.

A key benefit of an FDA-approved anti-inflammatory drug  for cats is that it has been shown to be safe and effective in that species when used according to the label.

For risk reduction, all oral and injectable NSAIDs approved for cats have a  customer information sheet  for veterinarians to provide us with the information for their administration.

What should you do when giving anti-inflammatories to your cat?

Before administering  any  NSAIDs to your cat, keep the following in mind:

  • Take precautions if you have a history of digestive problems, such as stomach or intestinal ulcers, or have had surgery on your stomach or intestines.
  • Make sure you know how much medicine to give, how often, and for how long.
  • Always administer the medicine with or after food.
  • Do not mix it with another medicine, in case there are incompatibilities.
  • During and after anti-inflammatory therapy, monitor your cat for side effects, such as vomiting, diarrhea, bloody or tar-colored stools, decreased appetite, lethargy, etc.
  • Currently, no NSAIDs are approved by the FDA for long-term use in cats.
  • If you have doubts at any stage or see any adverse effect, suspend the administration of the medicine and notify the veterinarian immediately.




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