NSAID use in cats is frequently avoided in the United States, as there are feline-specific as well as general risks involved in their use. But feline patients may be better off if veterinarians in private practice as well as shelters give the NSAIDs another look.
In a study published last month in The Veterinary Journal, researchers compared the pain-relieving effects of robenacoxib (an NSAID) and buprenorphine, both by themselves and in combination. They found that robenacoxib provided superior pain control to buprenorphine for cats after spay surgery, and that combining it with buprenorphine provided no observable benefit over the NSAID alone.
Additionally, there were no observed side effects or complications in any of the three groups.
The second study, published in the same issue of The Veterinary Journal, looked at the NSAID meloxicam and its effect on osteoarthritis (OA) pain in cats. They concluded, “Daily oral meloxicam administration [at the study dose] for 4 weeks significantly improved night-time (17:00–06:58 h) physical activity in cats suffering from OA, which suggested that meloxicam provides clinically relevant pain relief.”
During the course of treatment, the researchers also found, “No clinical side effects related to meloxicam administration were observed in the 31 meloxicam-treated cats, no significant change in complete blood count, blood biochemistry or urine analysis was observed, and particularly, there were no individual increases in liver or kidney parameters to values outside of the normal range.”
This is particularly significant because in the United States, meloxicam bears the FDA’s strictest drug safety alert, the so-called “black box warning,” for use in cats. As a consequence, many veterinarians are reluctant to use it on their feline patients. This may be an attitude that’s potentially leading to premature euthanasia for quality of life and pain issues that could be addressed with careful use of NSAIDs, as well as inferior post-surgical pain control for cats who have been spayed.
Stafﬁeri, F., et al. Comparison of the analgesic effects of robenacoxib, buprenorphine and their combination in cats after ovariohysterectomy. The Veterinary Journal (2013), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tvjl.2013.01.018 (Abstract and link to purchase complete article.)
Guillota, M., et al. Characterization of osteoarthritis in cats and meloxicam efficacy using objective chronic pain evaluation tools. The Veterinary Journal (2013), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tvjl.2013.01.018 (Full study available for public use.)