How To Help When Your Cat's In Pain

Are you on the hunt for something you can give your cat to relieve pain?

Whatever you do, don’t go into your own medicine cabinet.

While it might seem like a good idea to pop open a pain reliever for your cat, according to Dr. Catherine Lenox, a veterinarian and regulatory veterinary manager at Royal Canin, that’s the last thing you should do. So why can’t you share your go-to pain relievers with your cat? And what can you actually give her to help relieve pain? Read on to find out.

Can cans have human pain medicine?

“Even though your cat may be showing signs of pain, do not ever give your cat human pain relievers,” Dr. Lenox told The Dodo.

This list of toxic human pain relievers for cats includes any and all medications that are commonly available over the counter for us, like Tylenol, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like Advil and Aleve.

Why is Tylenol dangerous for cats?

Tylenol, an acetaminophen, can cause severe anemia in cats, Dr. Lenox warned. Even giving your cat one tablet can have enough acetaminophen in it to be fatal.

Why are NSAIDs dangerous for cats?

According to Dr. Lenox, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like Advil and Aleve, can cause life-threatening medical issues, like:

  • Liver failure
  • Kidney failure
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding

“I cannot stress enough to NEVER give these medications to cats, as some of their complications can be fatal or cause lifelong health problems,” Dr. Lenox said.

What can I give my cat for pain?

If your cat seems like she’s in pain, the best option is to call or make an appointment to see your veterinarian so they can diagnose (and possibly treat) any underlying issues as well as prescribe prescription pain medication.

“If the pain is a new problem, it’s important to see what’s causing it and if it can be localized to a body part, like your cat’s abdomen, back or one of the legs,” Dr. Lenox said. “Depending on where the pain is, it will be managed differently.”

Once your cat’s evaluated, your vet will recommend something to address your cat’s exact problem that’s causing pain.

“Luckily, there are some veterinary medications (like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and opioids) if your cat is showing signs of pain, so your vet can prescribe medications at the visit to help your cat feel better,” Dr. Lenox said.

How else can I help a cat in pain?

If your cat’s pain is a symptom of being diagnosed with arthritis, there are other ways to help relieve pain.

Controlling her weight

Getting your cat’s diet under control can be beneficial when treating pain due to arthritis.

“If your cat is overweight, getting them down to an ideal weight may help reduce the stress on the joints and help your cat feel more comfortable,” Dr. Lenox said.

Physical therapy, acupuncture and supplements

According to Dr. Lenox, these methods aren’t used as much as diet changes and medications, but they can still be beneficial for cats with arthritis.

“Physical therapy and rehab are not for every cat, but these modalities might be beneficial depending on the location of your cat’s pain and your cat’s attitude about treatment,” Dr. Lenox said. “There are also certified veterinary acupuncturists, and acupuncture does help some cats with arthritis and muscle weakness.”

For supplements, Dr. Lenox suggested that omega-3 fatty acids or other joint supplements might be beneficial for your cat.

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“Ask your veterinarian about what might be helpful for your cat, and your vet may be able to recommend a specialist in sports medicine and rehabilitation or a certified veterinary acupuncturist if those services aren’t offered with your usual veterinary hospital,” Dr. Lenox said.

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