We get so much joy and happiness from our cats that it breaks our hearts to see them in discomfort. As responsible pet owners, we should provide them with proper care. Unfortunately, sometimes they may suffer from a condition that involves pain or irritation. At this point, many owners wonder “What can I give my cat for pain relief?” As a cat owner, it pays to know about natural pain relief for cats. There are limitations to conventional painkillers and most human pain medication can be toxic for felines.
HOW TO TELL IF YOUR CAT IS IN PAIN
It can be extremely difficult to tell if your cat is in pain. They tend to hide that fact from their owners. This may cause you to overlook certain telltale signs. Additionally, there are many different types of pain states, broadly divided into acute and chronic. An example of acute pain would be an injury or bite wound your cat suffers. An example of chronic pain would be arthritis, which is extremely common in cats.
Signs Your Cat Is In Pain
Some general changes with both acute and chronic pain are:
- Cats in pain tend to be more aggressive. As such, they are more likely to scratch, bite, or hiss.
- Cats in pain rarely vocalize
- They will spend more time hiding. If your cat is spending an excessive amount of time hiding under a bed, couch, or some other piece of furniture, they are likely in distress.
- Your cat might exhibit changes in their eyes.
- If your cat is usually active and/or playful and they stop showing this kind of behavior, they may be in pain.
With acute pain, you may see:
- Your cat may have a shorter and faster breathing pattern (such as panting). There may also be changes in the movements of the abdominal or chest muscles.
- They could have a faster heart rate or pulse.
- Your cat might have a lower appetite or even stop eating food and drinking water entirely.
With Arthritis, you may see:
- Cats may exhibit changes in their movement and/or gait. This can appear as an overall stiffness in how your cat moves about as well as possible limping.
- Impaired ability to perform the activities of daily living
- Disrupted sleep
- Difficulty jumping up or down
- Decreased willingness to play and engage in life
- Difficulty climbing or descending stairs
- Difficulty running or chasing objects
Watch Your Cat’s Behavior
Seeing one or more of these signs may indicate that your cat is in pain. It is useful to remember that cats do feel pain, but because they are both predators and prey, they will not readily show signs that they are in a state of pain and distress. Therefore, it is important to keep a close eye on them.
It pays to observe your cat’s behavior. Most owners are familiar with their cats’ behavioral patterns and can quickly tell if there is a problem. If something is wrong, then you should take your cat to a veterinarian especially if the condition is persistent or gets worse. At this point, you may want to seek out natural pain relief for cats.
WHY CAN’T I GIVE MY CAT HUMAN PAINKILLERS?
Humans and cats are both mammals. This means that we share many similarities in our metabolic systems. However, there are some differences that are crucial to consider when treating pain in cats.
There is a category of over-the-counter painkillers known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (commonly referred to as NSAIDs). These are extremely common for treating general pain and inflammation in humans but they can be downright dangerous for cats.
Examples Of NSAIDs Include:
- Aspirin – acetylsalicylic acid (ASA)
- Tylenol – acetaminophen
- Motrin/Advil – ibuprofen
- Aleve – naproxen
NSAIDs are also referred to as analgesics (painkillers) or antipyretics (fever reducers). They are very effective and safe for humans if taken appropriately.
Cats, like all species, metabolize different NSAIDs differently. There are some NSAIDs that are safe to give cats – talk to your veterinarian. Currently, there are 2 NSAIDs that are FDA approved for acute pain, but none that are FDA approved for chronic pain. However, with the guidance of your veterinarian, there are NSAIDs that can be safely used long-term for chronic pain.
NSAID’s Toxicity In Cats
NSAIDs like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and/or naproxen are not natural pain relief for cats. It is NEVER safe to give to your cat. Using these can result in side effects. This is also known as NSAID toxicity and is characterized by the following symptoms:
- A decrease in appetite
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Shallow or rapid breathing
- Swelling and pain in the abdomen
- Pale gums
It is important to note that NSAID toxicity is potentially fatal. Furthermore, many of its symptoms are similar to the symptoms of overall pain in your cat. If you suspect that your cat is suffering from NSAID toxicity, you have to take them to a veterinarian immediately.
WHAT CAN I GIVE MY CAT FOR PAIN RELIEF?
In order to avoid the possibility of your cat suffering side effects, it is important that you consult your veterinarian. They can advise you on how best to treat your cat’s pain.
Remember that over-the-counter human-grade NSAIDs are absolutely NOT an option!
NSAIDs For Your Cat’s Pain
As indicated above, there are two NSAIDs that are safe to give cats: robenacoxib and meloxicam. Talk to your veterinarian about these as a potential option. Your veterinarian will determine if these are appropriately safe to administer.
Corticosteroids For Your Cat’s Pain
You can use corticosteroids to help treat your cat’s pain. These include cortisone, prednisone, and/or methylprednisolone. Because pain is usually associated with inflammation, these drugs are effective because they treat both conditions at the same time. However, they do have side effects if given on a repeated basis, long-term.
Opioids for Severe Pain
Veterinarians use opioids routinely for the control of acute pain. They are best used in the hospital setting to control severe, acute pain. There are not any good options for natural pain relief for cats, particularly on a long-term basis.
Natural Alternatives For Pain Relief For Cats
Some of you may opt for a more holistic approach to treating your cat’s discomfort. You might be asking yourself “what cat I give my cat for pain relief?” and you wish to keep it natural.
While there may be tons of prescribed pain relief medications provided to you by your vet, there are a few natural alternatives that you can try. It is important to note that these alternatives should not replace any medication administered under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian. When beginning a new supplement or medication, always check in with your vet to ensure that it is safe for your cat.
Here are a few natural alternatives that can provide pain relief for your cat.
Some research suggests that cannabidiol (CBD) may provide comforting relief in humans and dogs.
However, there is a possibility that CBD may inhibit some drug interactions. Therefore, if your cat is already taking some type of medication, it is best to seek advice from a vet in order to avoid any complications. If your cat is not on any medications, CBD can be a viable option to address feline discomfort.
Glucosamine Chondroitin treats osteoarthritis in dogs, cats, and horses. It can also treat feline lower urinary tract disease in cats. Glucosamine acts as a mild anti-inflammatory used by the joints to make cartilage components. It is used as protection by the urinary tract. You don’t need a prescription for this supplement and can find it over the counter at most pet stores or online!
Fish oil is beneficial to cats for a variety of reasons. While this is considered more of a supplement that supports their overall health than a pain reliever, fish oil can be useful for many things. After all, preventive care is important! Fish oil promotes a healthy coat and skin. In addition, it boosts the immune system, which can prevent many common ailments experienced by cats.
Here are a few other reasons why you should consider fish oil for your cat!
- Brain development
- Continued cognitive function
- Fighting dementia
Adding curcumin to your cat’s diet is a good way to reduce conventional pain medications. Coming from the Indian spice, turmeric curcumin is an active ingredient with natural anti-inflammatory properties. An easy way to incorporate this into your cat’s diet is to make a golden paste! This is turmeric powder mixed with coconut oil and a little black pepper to increase absorption.
CBD comes from the hemp plant and is found in large amounts in the flowers, stalk, and leaves. All mammals have an endocannabinoid system (ECS), and CBD supports the ECS by interacting with receptors found all over the body. Yeah, that’s right! Even your mischievous little cat. CBD is popular for its soothing and relaxing properties that help soothe physical discomfort and even the Sunday scaries!
Inflammation In Cats:
Inflammation is the response to tissue damage that can occur from injury or disease. In general, it is characterized by pain, swelling, heat, redness, and a loss of function. It is part of the body’s response to help with healing and repair. Although it is a necessary part of the response to injury and disease, if unchecked, it can become a problem in its own right.
In cats who suffer from unchecked and chronic inflammation, the DNA in their cells eventually becomes damaged. This prematurely ages the cat and subjects them to a variety of other health problems.
Fortunately, the ECS helps to control and regulate a healthy inflammatory and immune response. CBD may help the ECS to maximize its beneficial effects.
How Much CBD Should I Give My Cat?
CBD for Cats is usually very tolerable but side effects are seen more frequently in cats than dogs. If you are thinking of using CBD, you should notify your veterinarian.
It is also important to use products from a legitimate and highly-regarded company. The company should provide products that have consistent and clearly marked dosage amounts. This is important when determining how much to give your cat.
They should also provide evidence of so-called third party analysis and testing. This is when a separate company analyzes the product, on a batch-by-batch basis to ensure it both contains the stated amounts of CBD, and does not contain dangerous chemicals.
The correct amount of CBD to give your cat varies depending on weight, frequency of use, and method of ingestion. While your cat can only drink or eat their CBD, this rules out smoking. Don’t get any ideas! Depending on your cat’s preferred method of taking CBD, you have some options: CBD oil, CBD capsules, or CBD-infused treats.
The dosage is a bit trickier for CBD oil because you can administer less or more each time. Treats are perfectly dosed where you know how much CBD your cat is getting each time. If you have a picky eater, you can try dropping CBD oil directly into their mouth or save yourself from those nails and just add it directly into their food or water.
CBD Dosage for Cats
The optimal dosing for cats (or dogs) is not known. There is active ongoing research on this topic. Based on our findings, we recommend:
- .25 milligrams for every 1 pound of body weight for a regular dose (approximately 0.5 milligrams for every 1 kg of body weight). This means that a 20-pound (9.0kg) cat would get a 5-milligram dose.
- .5 milligrams for every 1 pound of body weight for a high dose (approximately 0.5 milligrams for every 1 kg of body weight). This means that a 20-pound (9.0kg) cat would get a 10-milligram dose.
For detailed dosing instructions: CBD Dosing Chart For Pets
Remember, let your veterinarian know you are considering using CBD in your cat. They can advise you on whether this will be safe to do based on your cat’s medical history and other treatments your cat may be receiving. Your cat will thank you tremendously.
Give Your Cat a Massage
Before you start trying to give your cat a deep tissue massage, we’ll start by saying that this is supposed to be gentle and light. It is important to conduct massages in a quiet part of the house with no distractions like other people or pets. You will want to begin by stroking downward in the direction your cat’s hair grows. Maintain one hand on your cat while the other hand gently works on the head, tail, and outer legs. Careful to be most gentle on injured areas.
Herbs to Reduce Feline Discomfort
There are herbs available that may help alleviate certain discomfort. These include dandelion and catclaw. Both these herbs contain cortisone-like properties to relieve itching. Other herbs that may provide itch relief are calendula, chamomile, and echinacea.
While acupuncture is used to ease symptoms of feline arthritis, it offers pain relief for other conditions like chronic diseases that veterinary medicine alone may not address. These can include dental issues, urinary tract problems, and gastrointestinal disorders. These treatments can promote quicker healing with less pain associated with certain illnesses or injuries.
Like many drugs we as humans are prescribed by our doctors, there is usually a natural alternative that we can opt for. The same goes for our pets! It is sometimes impossible to completely switch out prescribed drugs for the natural alternative, but it is important to note when we can find healing in nature!
As a final afterthought, we always recommend consulting with your veterinarian before replacing any prescribed pain relievers before replacing them with natural alternatives. While these alternatives exist, you can use them with your cat’s prescribed pain reliever.