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Gabapentin in cats - podcast show notes

Updated: May 17, 2023

These are the show notes for our gabapentin in cats podcast. Our podcast is a subscriber benefit included in our monthly subscriptions. In this podcast, Matt reviews the evidence for gabapentin in cats as an analgesic and anxiolytic. All references mentioned in the podcast are here for you to review.


Take a look at the webinars we have on this topic. Gwen Covey-Crump reviewed gabapentinoids and Matt described the endogenous analgesic system in our descending modulation webinar.


Acute pain

Corletto et al documented use of gabapentin in trauma cats;

Vettorato E, Corletto F. Gabapentin as part of multi-modal analgesia in two cats suffering multiple injuries. Vet Anaesth Analg. 2011 Sep;38(5):518-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-2995.2011.00638.x. PMID: 21831060.


Steagall et al examined the use of gabapentin in acute pain following ovariohysterectomy in cats. Small study, suggests a benefit to the addition of gabapentin to buprenorphine when using the Glasgow pain scale – but not a multicomposite pain scale. Further numbers required to be conclusive. Would be interesting to repeat this study with methadone versus buprenorphine and also include a group with NSAID, opioid and gabapentin.

In this study, 26% of cats required rescue in the buprenorphine-meloxicam group – so it’s really important that we pain score and have an option to intervene with when pain scores increase. Plus, use a validated pain scale.

Steagall PV, Benito J, Monteiro BP, Doodnaught GM, Beauchamp G, Evangelista MC. Analgesic effects of gabapentin and buprenorphine in cats undergoing ovariohysterectomy using two pain-scoring systems: a randomized clinical trial. J Feline Med Surg. 2018 Aug;20(8):741-748. doi: 10.1177/1098612X17730173. Epub 2017 Sep 18. PMID: 28920534.


When you can’t use an NSAID can you use gabapentin for acute pain?

If I cannot use an NSAID, I would choose gabapentin 5-10mg/kg BID based on the above two pieces of work.


Chronic pain

This work by Guedes at al concluded;

Gabapentin treatment was associated with improvement in owner-identified impaired activities of osteoarthritic cats. Activity levels were lower than those during placebo treatment, and sedation was the most common adverse effect.


Critique – very small study with a generous conclusion – gives us an indication that gabapentin may be effective but we really need to consider this a pilot study and work towards a larger number of cats.

This is not enough evidence to use gabapentin over a licensed option such as an NSAID or an anti-NGF analgesic.


Sedation for me is not an acceptable adverse effect and further work is required to identify a dose that provides analgesia without sedation


Guedes AGP, Meadows JM, Pypendop BH, Johnson EG, Zaffarano B. Assessment of the effects of gabapentin on activity levels and owner-perceived mobility impairment and quality of life in osteoarthritic geriatric cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2018 Sep 1;253(5):579-585. doi: 10.2460/javma.253.5.579. PMID: 30110208.


Anxiolysis

In healthy cats, gabapentin given 90 minutes prior to the vet visit improves transport scores and handling compliance.

van Haaften KA, Forsythe LRE, Stelow EA, Bain MJ. Effects of a single preappointment dose of gabapentin on signs of stress in cats during transportation and veterinary examination. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2017 Nov 15;251(10):1175-1181. doi: 10.2460/javma.251.10.1175. PMID: 29099247.


Hyperthyroid cats medicated with 20 mg/kg gabapentin 1 h prior to leaving home were more relaxed during transport and more compliant with veterinary procedures than cats administered a placebo solution.

Gurney M, Gower L. Randomised clinical trial evaluating the effect of a single preappointment dose of gabapentin on signs of stress in hyperthyroid cats. J Feline Med Surg. 2022 Apr 28:1098612X221091736. doi: 10.1177/1098612X221091736. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35481442.

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