Cat Steroids: Side Effects

Updated February 21, 2017

Corticosteroids are steroids used to treat cats for inflammation, allergies, like itching or like skin problems, immune system, eye or ear problems, back injury and pain. While cats suffer from fewer side effects than dogs when taking steroids, cat owners should be aware of the short- and long-term effects of this drug.

Short-term Side Effects

When a cat is being treated with steroids the owner should watch for any of the following side effects including increased thirst and or urination, such as accidents in the house; increased appetite; panting, more common in dogs than cats, but cats can still be affected; weight gain or lack of appetite; diarrhoea, and or vomiting; changes to its fur; increased vulnerability to infections and changes in behaviour, such as sluggishness and aggression. While humans who take corticosteroids may suffer from psychological side effects, there have been no psychological side effects reported in cats.

Long-term Side Effects

Long-term use of steroids or heavy dosages can cause severe health issues for a cat. Diabetes, Cushing’s Disease, liver damage and gastrointestinal ulcers can all be caused by too much corticosteroid in a cats body. The risk of pets suffering from gastrointestinal ulcers increases when the corticosteroids are combined with other anti-inflammatory medications.


Though steroids pose minor to serious side effects for cats, sometimes the benefits of treatment out weigh the dangers; other times corticosteroids are the only course of treatment for the illness. Cat owners should monitor their pets closely when on corticosteroids. If side effects are displayed, contact a veterinarian immediately. Suddenly taking a cat off steroids can be dangerous for the pet’s health because of withdrawal, therefore, it is important to consult a vet before terminating use. In cases of long-term use of corticosteroids, the cat should regularly have its blood and urine tested.

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About the Author

Kristen Marquette has been a professional writer since 2009 when FireLight Books published her debut novel, "The Vampiric Housewife." Since 2000 she has helped students hone their written and verbal skills in English as a tutor. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Michigan State University.