Pain Killers for Cats

Updated November 21, 2016

It's a myth that cats do not feel pain. In fact, a 2007 American Animal Hospital Association Journal article urges veterinarians to think of pain as the fourth vital sign after temperature, pulse and respiration. The article also urges vets to provide pain relief during medical procedures, as well as using pain killers afterwards.

Signs of Pain

Cats rarely cry out in pain. Signs of pain in cats include hissing or growling when touched, loss of appetite, depression, sleeping more than usual or being less active, and sitting or resting in an unusual, crouched position.

Causes of Pain

Injury, medical procedures like ear-cleaning and dentistry, surgery and such illnesses as pancreatitis, urinary tract infections, arthritis and cancer all cause pain. Most veterinarians will provide pain killers if asked.

Conventional Pain Relief

Depending on the type and severity of the pain, veterinarians may use opiates, synthetic opiates, steroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as pain killers. Metacam is the only NSAID approved for cats. However, it can have severe side effects, including acute kidney failure and death.

Patches for Pain

Fentanyl patches provide continuous pain relief for about four days. Buprenex is usually given as an injection, but the medication also can be made into a patch that provides continuous pain relief for up to 12 hours.

Natural Pain Killers

Traumeel and arnica are among the homeopathic remedies that relieve pain. Natural remedies can have unexpected results though. They should be used only with the guidance of a holistic veterinarian, who will customise the treatment for the cat.


Cats metabolise medications differently than humans do. Aspirin and other over-the-counter pain killers can be toxic and even deadly to cats.

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