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Gabapentin for Cats: A Safe Treatment for your Pet?

CBD Products » Gabapentin for Cats: A Safe Treatment for your Pet?
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Whether your cat suffers from epilepsy, pain or stress, or anxiety, Gabapentin could be the medication to help out your feline friend. 

Every pet owner wants to make sure their pets live their best life, but there are plenty of reasons cats may be overly stressed and worried. From trips to the vet and chronic pain to arthritis and epilepsy, Gabapentin is becoming increasingly popular in treating various conditions. 

So, if your vet has prescribed Gabapentin or you are looking for a way to treat your cat’s condition, you need to know about this drug. 

At Happy Garden, we’ll look at Gabapentin from many angles and try to address the Gabapentin-related concerns of many cat owners. 

Is it Safe to Give Gabapentin to My Cat?

Before we dive into more information about the benefits of Gabapentin and why your vet might prescribe it, you should know that Gabapentin is considered safe. It was initially developed for human consumption, but further testing found it offered significant benefits for cats and dogs. 

Like all drugs, there is a slight chance of an allergic reaction and the possibility of overdose (more on possible side effects later). However, if you follow your vet’s advice, Gabapentin is safe and often recommended. 

Why Do Vets Prescribe Gabapentin for Cats?

There are many reasons why your vet will prescribe Gabapentin for your cat. The most common is to help them relax when visiting the vet. Many cat owners find that going to the vet is incredibly stressful for their cats; the journey alone can be unsettling. If your vet wants to undergo a thorough examination, they may want your cat to relax. 

Gabapentin is an excellent alternative to sedating your pet in stressful situations. A 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association reported lower stress scores in cats taking Gabapentin before a veterinary visit.

So your vet may prescribe Gabapentin before the next visit to help your cat relax. It will be easy to examine your beloved pet, and you can relax knowing they aren’t overly stressed and you are taking good care of your animal.  

Benefits of Gabapentin for Cats

While your vet might want to prescribe Gabapentin to help make vet visits more straightforward, there are many other benefits. Here are just a few:

Pain control
Gabapentin affects the neuropathic pathways in your pet, meaning it can be used to help control pain. It also reduces the sensitivity of the GABA nerve receptors in your cat’s brain. These receptors pass pain signals, so blocking them slows and minimizes pain. If your beloved pet is suffering, your vet may give you a combination of Gabapentin and an anti-inflammatory to help manage various pain conditions such as arthritis, cancer, and nerve damage. 

Seizures: Initially developed to help treat seizures in humans, Gabapentin for cat seizures is equally effective. Specifically, Gabapentin can be used to treat idiopathic refractory epilepsy in cats. It’s usually combined with other anti-seizure medication, but in some cases of extreme feline epilepsy, Gabapentin can be life-saving. The same GABA nerve receptors that transmit pain also play a role in seizures, so reducing the function of this part of the nervous system will lower the chance of our pet having a seizure. 

Anxiety and stress: If our cat suffers from anxiety, separation anxiety, depression, or another stress-related condition, Gabapentin could be your go-to treatment. Studies are ongoing, but initial results show that cats given Gabapentin before a stressful event show fewer signs of stress. Anxiety is caused by the over and under stimulation of different parts of your nervous system, which Gabapentin works to regulate, thereby stopping your cat from being stressed. 

How to Give Your Cat Gabapentin

You should only give Gabapentin to your cat on the advice of our vet, as the dosage will vary depending on our cat’s breed, size, weight, and other health conditions. For example, cats with kidney conditions may require a lower dose.

You can give Gabapentin to your cat in capsule, tablet, or liquid form. Generally, Gabapentin products don’t have a strong taste, so your cat may be willing to take the drug without persuasion. Yet, you can mix it with food to help encourage your cat to take the medication. 

How Quickly Does Gabapentin Work on Cats?

Gabapentin starts to work very fast. Depending on the size of your cat, fat percentage, metabolism, and the prescribed dosage, you should begin to notice a difference in your cat’s behaviour within an hour. 

Usually, vets suggest administering Gabapentin around 2-3 hours before your cat is exposed to a stressful situation. This is enough time to ensure the medication is working effectively and your cat gets the most benefits and is very relaxed. 

After around 4-5 hours, the Gabapentin will have worn off unless you give your cat another dose. If you notice the drug wearing off in a shorter time frame, speak to your vet about the dosage. 

Side Effects of Gabapentin in Cats

So, while Gabapentin can be hugely beneficial for your feline friend, like all medications, there are potential side effects and drawbacks. 

The most common side effects of Gabapentin in cats are:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea 
  • Lack of coordination (bumping into things, falling over, etc.) 
  • Sleepiness and drowsiness
  • Lethargy or a lack of energy

None of these side effects is considered serious, and most likely, your vet will adjust the dosage or suggest a new administration method. Often vomiting can be overcome by giving your cat the medication with a meal, as cats usually vomit when taking medication on an empty stomach. 

Avoiding Overdose and Allergic Reactions 

However, there are a few more severe side effects of Gabapentin to watch for. The most severe problems are caused by an allergic reaction or an overdose. Both cases can prove fatal, and you should contact your vet immediately. Your cat may become overly sleepy and have trouble waking up, so follow your vet’s instructions and not increase the dosage without consulting an expert. 

NOTE: Especially when used to treat epilepsy, Gabapentin is considered an “off-label” drug. This means your vet’s instruction regarding dosage and frequency may contradict what is on the label. Make sure you listen to your vet and follow their instructions. 

What If You Want to Stop Giving Gabapentin to Your Cat?

Since Gabapentin can also be used to help treat epilepsy in cats, suddenly stopping the treatment can come with side effects as well. If you give Gabapentin to your cat every day, you should slowly decrease the dose over a few weeks rather than stop giving it, as this can lead to complications. If you forget to give your cat their dose of Gabapentin, give them the usual dose as soon as you remember. Do not give a double dose as this could cause an overdose. 

If in doubt, it’s always best to speak to your vet, as they can provide advice based on your pet’s individual needs. 

CBD Oil and Gabapentin for Cats

Although many pet owners use CBD to treat seizures in cats or comfort their dogs during thunderstorms, CBD products are not recommended in combination with Gabapentin for pets. That is because CBD is known to interact with certain medications. Therefore, always talk to your veterinarian before mixing Gabapentin with CBD or other natural treatments. 

Speak to Your Vet About Gabapentin

Gabapentin is proven to be very beneficial to your cat for many reasons. It’s generally considered very safe. So, it’s definitely worth speaking to your vet about getting a prescription. Whether you are looking to control seizures, ease your cat’s pain or help them relax and feel less anxious, Gabapentin could be the drug you are looking for. 

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