Does Gabapentin Help Cats With Anxiety?
Gabapentin for cats is similar to GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) – a neurotransmitter vital for the normal functioning of the nervous system. The exact working mechanism is unknown, but it is established that gabapentin blocks the brain’s calcium channels.
Becuase of this, in addition to being a chronic pain reliever and anticonvulsant, gabapentin can be used as an anti-anxiety medication to support a fear-free state in otherwise anxious cats.
When do Vets Prescribe Gabapentin for Cats With Anxiety?
Vets prescribe gabapentin for cats anxiety when dealing with short-term stress. Namely, it can be used in situations such as veterinary visits and expected triggers (guests, thunders, car rides).
While it does not cause major sedation, gabapentin for cats anxiety takes the ‘edge’ off your cat. There are three types of cat anxiety – situational, generalized, and separation anxiety. Gabapentin is best used for situational anxiety.
Situational Anxiety. This type of anxiety usually occurs as a reaction to a situation that your cat is facing at the moment. For instance, before baths, your cat might show signs of stress such as pacing, hiding, biting furniture, or trembling.
Generalized Anxiety. This type of anxiety requires more attention as it is a persistent type. It can be present at all times in your cat. Some symptoms of this cat anxiety include accidental urinating, hypersalivation, and general fearful nature.
Separation Anxiety. Separation anxiety is a type of situational anxiety that is becoming more and more common these days. It occurs when the owner is away from the cat, which causes it distress. Separation anxiety is a serious issue.
How Much Gabapentin can I Give My Cat for Anxiety?
The recommended dose of gabapentin for cat anxiety is 2 mg per pound of body weight.
Gabapentin for cat anxiety comes in various formulations – tablets, capsules, and a liquid form which can be given with or without food.
Regardless of the form you are using, it is important to stick to the prescribed dosage as higher doses can be hazardous. Giving your cat too much mg of gabapentin can result in an overdose.
The potential side effects of gabapentin for cat anxiety are drowsiness, ataxia, depression, and lethargy. Therefore, the use of Gabapentin should be carefully monitored.
Even normal doses of gabapentin can cause side effects in certain cats. The most common side effect of gabapentin for cat anxiety is sleepiness.
How Long does it Take for Gabapentin to Work for Anxiety in Cats?
Gabapentin for cat anxiety needs around three hours to start working. When used for pain management as an analgesic, it needs around 24 hours to relieve pain and up to 10 days to reach full efficacy.
The efficacy of gabapentin for cat anxiety can be modified by other medications. Concurrent use of certain meds results in drug interactions. For example, antacids reduce the absorption of gabapentin while opioids (hydrocodone and morphine) boost its effects.
When talking to your veterinarian about gabapentin for cat anxiety, make sure you mention all medications your pet is receiving, including dietary supplements, vitamins, and herbs.
How Often Should I Give My Cat Gabapentin for Anxiety?
You should give your cat gabapentin on an as-needed basis. However, it is advisable to talk to your DVM about the proper dosing frequency. Long-term use of high doses of gabapentin can be damaging.
Plus, gabapentin is not universally fit for all cats. For example, the medication must be used with caution in cats with kidney disease.
Are There Alternatives to Gabapentin for Cat Anxiety?
Yes, there are alternatives to gabapentin for cat anxiety. In fact, there are many options – from natural supplements to mainstream anti-anxiety medications.