Overview of Gabapentin
Cats may not always show it, but they are sensitive to change. Gabapentin is a stress-reducing medication given to cats prior to scenarios that can cause fear, such as travel and visiting the veterinarian or groomer.
Gabapentin is extremely safe for most cats and has been proven in studies to reduce short-term stress in our feline friends. Using gabapentin is a caring, effective addition that takes into consideration your cat’s emotional well-being as we care for their physical health.
It is a prescription medication, either available through your veterinarian or which your veterinarian can call into a pharmacy of your choice.
Formulation of Gabapentin
Gabapentin usually comes in capsules that can be either hidden in a soft treat such as a Pill Pocket or Pill Assist or the capsule can be opened and the contents mixed with canned cat food or other tasty soft foods (such as tuna). Mixed with food, most cats find gabapentin palatable. Gabapentin is also available as a commercially available liquid or may be compounded as either a flavored tablet or liquid.
Gabapentin is used in human medicine primarily as a seizure medication and to treat neuropathic (nerve) pain and anxiety. Veterinarians also use gabapentin against neuropathic pain, and it also is very effective to reduce short-term anxiety in cats.
Studies show that in addition to reducing stress, cats given gabapentin are more compliant during veterinary visits. Side effects are rare in cats, but sedation is sometimes seen, lasting no longer than 8 hours. Salivating or frothing at the mouth may occur with the commercially available liquid, and resolves within a short time.
Gabapentin has been proven to be most effective when given 2-3 hours prior to a stressful event. Some cats may need a higher dose than others, based on their size and level of anxiety.
As gabapentin is broken down by the kidneys, the dose is often lower
for cats with chronic kidney disease. Gabapentin may be prescribed to also be given the night prior. Your veterinarian can provide you with further dosing information for your cat.
Kindly provided for Cat Care Clinic by:
Ilona Rodan, DVM, Feline Specialist and Behavior Consultant, Cat Behavior Solutions, CCBC
Julia Pinckney, MSc. Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare