Gabapentin for Cats

Gabapentin for Cats: Benefits, Safety, Dosage and More!

Katelyn Son
By Katelyn Son
Medically reviewed by Ivana Crnec, DVM
If you buy something from a link on our site, we may earn a commission. See our advertising disclosure.
If you buy something from a link on our site, we may earn a commission.
See our advertising disclosure.

Cats have a reputation for usually being cool and independent pets. However, they are not immune to issues like anxiety, seizures, and arthritis. In this article, we will talk about Gabapentin for cats. 

Studies suggest that Gabapentin is the most commonly prescribed medication for cats with chronic musculoskeletal and neuropathic pain. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about Gabapentin for cats – the uses, the risks, and of course, the dosing instructions. 

Can I Give My Cat Gabapentin?

Can I Give My Cat Gabapentin

Yes, you can give your cat Gabapentin but only when the medication is prescribed by the vet. In veterinary medicine, Gabapentin (brand name Neurontin) is used extra-label, but when given correctly with the right dose and frequency, it is both safe and efficient for cats. 

Before giving your cat Gabapentin, check with your vet about the medication form. The liquid form contains xylitol – an artificial sweetener that is toxic to pets, while the Gabapentin tablets are way too strong for cats and need proper adjustments. 

When to Use Gabapentin for Cats

Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant and analgesic medicine. It is particularly efficient in managing neuropathic pain and can be used in conjunction with other anti-pain medication like opioids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. 

In terms of pharmacology, Gabapentin is a structural analog of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). Or, simply put, it mimics GABA’s effects – blocks the brain’s voltage-gated calcium channels, thus reducing calcium currents in the central nervous system.

As a result, there is a decrease in the release of excitatory neurotransmitters and efficient control of pain, seizures, and anxiety. Therefore, as you can see, Gabapentin does not affect the pain directly. Instead, it quiets the CNS’s sensitivity to pain. 

Benefits and Uses of Gabapentin for Cats

Generally speaking, Gabapentin is prescribed by veterinarians for felines suffering from seizures, chronic pain, and anxiety. In cats, chronic pain is usually associated with arthritis and certain types of cancer.

Gabapentin for Managing Cat Seizures. Gabapentin is a commonly prescribed adjunctive therapy for cats with idiopathic refractory epilepsy. Gabapentin’s unique working mechanism and effects are often described as “promising.”

Gabapentin for Chronic Pain in Cats. Because of the analgesia effects, Gabapentin is used to manage a cat’s chronic pain. According to a study, Gabapentin yields “satisfactory pain management” with “no obvious side effects.”

Gabapentin for Anxiety Relief in Cats. In higher doses, Gabapentin features anti-anxiety and sedative effects which can be used to manage feline stress. A study showed that preappointment Gabapentin dosing results in stress-free vet visits. 

Potential Side Effects and Risks of Gabapentin for Cats

Potential Side Effects and Risks of Gabapentin for Cats

It is possible for cats to have side effects when taking Gabapentin. The good news is that the development of such adverse reactions can be minimized by gradually increasing the Gabapentin doses.

The common side effects of Gabapentin for cats include:

  • Occasional diarrhea
  • Sleepiness
  • Incoordination or ataxia

In cats with chronic kidney disease, Gabapentin is more likely to cause sedation instead of simple sleepiness. Gabapentin may also trigger false-positive results on urinary protein tests. 

Gabapentin should be used with precautions in cats with kidney and liver problems as well as pregnant and nursing cats. On the other hand, it should not be used at all in felines sensitive to the active ingredient. 

Gabapentin Dosage for Cats 

The dosing guidelines for Gabapentin in cats usually include the phrase “to effect,” meaning different cats will need different amounts. In general, smaller cats can be given 50-75 mg, while larger cats can be given 75-100 mg. Basically, dosage modifications are allowed as long as you do not exceed the dose of 27 mg per pound of body weight (50 mg per kg). 

Gabapentin is available in tablets, capsules, and liquid form. However, considering the small Gabapentin doses for cats, asking for your cat’s exact dose in a compounding pharmacy would be more practical. 

You can give your cat Gabapentin with or without food (in case of a sensitive tummy, it is better to give it with food). If you accidentally skip a dose, either give the missed dose as soon as you remember or skip it completely and give the next dose as scheduled. The important thing is not to double up the Gabapentin amount because of the missed dose. 

This is because giving your cat too much Gabapentin can result in an overdose and cause: 

  • Drowsiness
  • Ataxia 
  • Depression
  • Lethargy 

Finally, if you need to discontinue Gabapentin use, make sure you gradually wean your cat off, ideally over the course of 2 to 3 weeks. Sudden discontinuation, especially after prolonged use, may cause withdrawal seizures.

Gabapentin for Cats Usage Guidelines 

Gabapentin is a fast-acting agent meaning, you will be able to see an improvement in your cat’s condition 24 hours after the administration, but it will need between 7 and 10 days to achieve full efficacy, 

If the effectiveness of Gabapentin during the early pain management stages is not enough, it can be combined with other pain medications (NSAIDs and opioids), and then after a while, the second drug can be discontinued. 

It goes without saying that not all drugs are compatible. In these terms, Gabapentin has the potential for drug interactions with the following meds:

  • Antacids – they decrease Gabapentin’s absorption making it less efficient 
  • Hydrocodone and morphine – Gabapentin boost their effects as pain relievers

When talking to your veterinarian about Gabapentin for your cat, make sure you mention all medications your pet is receiving, including dietary supplements, vitamins, and herbs. 

If your cat is receiving medications that are not compatible with Gabapentin or is prone to more intense side effects, you should look into potential alternatives. CBD oil for cats is a natural remedy and can help felines with the same issues as Gabapentin. 

Namely, CBD oil has strong anti-convulsive and anti-epileptic properties and can potentiate the effects of standard seizure medications. CBD oil changes the brain’s response to pain and has natural calming effects, thus supporting relaxation and preventing anxiety. 

We suggest using the Honest Paws Well CBD Oil or the Calm CBD Soft Chews for cats. Both products are made from organic full-spectrum hemp and are human-grade and vegan. For more convenient use, the CBD treats are salmon-flavored. 

Honest Paws CBD Oil for Cats
  • Enhance bone & joint health
  • Promote relaxation & combat stress
  • Boost immune system & cognitive function
Calm CBD Soft Chews for Cats

This custom blend of relaxing ingredients is paired with a full-spectrum hemp oil and will help your cat with:

  • Maintaining calmness
  • Behavioral problem management
  • Promoting a healthy brain function

Our Final Thoughts on Gabapentin for Cats

Giving your cat gabapentin

Although initially developed for seizure and chronic pain management, today, Gabapentin is a popular anti-anxiety medication for cats. 

Gabapentin is commonly prescribed by veterinarians because, in addition to being efficient, it can also be used as adjunctive therapy to potentiate the effects of other medications.

Before considering Gabapentin, talk to your trusted veterinarian. Do not forget that the data in this article is purely informative. 

Sources

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23253881/

https://avmajournals.avma.org/doi/abs/10.2460/javma.251.10.1175

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6271300/

https://www.dvm360.com/view/new-anticonvulsant-drugs-show-promise-dogs-cats-0

https://www.maddiesfund.org/assets/webcasts/081220%20Webcast/gabapentin-in-community-cats-decreases-fear.pdf