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Can Rimadyl Be Used for Cats?

| Updated September 26, 2017

When your feline friend is recuperating from a surgical procedure, recovering from the injury of a sprain or strain or fighting the long-term discomfort of arthritis or cancer, you want to make her pain go away. Do not contemplate sharing your canine companion's Rimadyl tablets with your kitty, as the results will be devastating.

NSAIDs and Cats Don't Mix

Rimadyl is Pfizer's brand name for carprofen, which is in the class of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. Other names under which carprofen is marketed include:

  • Novox
  • Vetprofen
  • Carprieve
  • Quellin.

Rimadyl is available in injectable, chewable tablet and oral caplet form, and it is labeled for use in dogs only. Veterinarians commonly administer Rimadyl for short-term and long-term use to treat pain and inflammation in their canine patients. There are several other NSAID choices that are approved for use in dogs, but all of these NSAIDs carry similar risks for adverse side effects. Cats are not able to metabolize these drugs as quickly as dogs, which is why most NSAIDs, including Rimadyl, are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for feline use.

Side Effects of Rimadyl

Rimadyl poses potential side effects in both canine and feline patients, but cats are especially susceptible. Some of these side effects include:

  • Vomiting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Gastrointestinal ulceration
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage.

Even when administered in small amounts, Rimadyl can induce sudden kidney failure in cats. If you suspect that your cat has ingested any Rimadyl, prompt veterinary treatment for carprofen toxicity must be sought.

Alternative Medications

Since Rimadyl is not approved for use in cats, your veterinarian may prescribe alternative medications to address your cat's pain and inflammation. For short-term relief, such as for recovery from a minor injury, a dental extraction or a surgical procedure, there are two NSAIDs that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration for such use in cats. The two drugs are:

  • Metacam injectable, of which a veterinarian may administer a single dose.
  • Robenacoxib, an oral tablet that is administered once daily for no longer than three days.

For long-term use, such as for providing relief from the aches and pains of arthritis, your veterinarian may opt for tramadol, an opiate drug that is administered orally in tablet form and poses fewer and rarer side effects than NSAIDs.

Never administer any pain control medications to your cat without consulting with your veterinarian. Cats are not small dogs. Most NSAIDs that are prescribed for dogs, as well as the over-the-counter pain relievers that you may turn to for quelling your own aches and pains, are deadly when ingested by cats. If you suspect that your cat is in pain, bring her to a veterinarian for an evaluation and feline-friendly relief.