Metacam, produced by Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, is one of the only nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that are safe for use in cats. This medication, also known by its generic name meloxicam, is approved for use in cats by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Like any drug, it's is not without side effects, some of which can be very serious, especially if it's given in a larger dose than directed.
Common Side Effects
When given as directed by your vet, the most common side effects of Metacam in cats include vomiting, nausea, decreased appetite, lethargy, diarrhea and weight loss, according to Drugs.com. Your cat also may vomit blood, experience seizures, have an increase in thirst or urination, abdominal pain or tarry stools, warns the Pet Poison Helpline website. These symptoms could indicate that your cat is experiencing kidney or liver failure. If you notice any of these side effects, notify your vet immediately. Your vet may instruct you to stop administering the medication if he has prescribed it for long-term use. He likely will want to see your feline friend to run some tests to determine if Metacam has caused any damage to her kidneys, liver or gastrointestinal tract.
Overdose Risks and Administration
It's very easy to overdose your cat on Metacam, which can result in acute kidney failure. When meloxicam is given in larger doses than recommended by your vet, it can inhibit the enzyme cyclooxygenase-1 in your cat's body, reducing blood flow to her kidneys and gastrointestinal tract, according to VeterinaryPartner.com. The decreased blood flow can cause kidney and intestinal damage. Always give your cat the dose of Metacam recommended by your vet, at the frequency prescribed. Shake the medication well before administering to distribute the meloxicam particles throughout the liquid to avoid an accidental overdose. Properly measure and administer each dose to your cat orally.
The FDA has only approved Metacam for use as a one-time injection in cats prior to surgery to control pain. Your vet may prescribe the drug "off label," administered orally long term, to control the pain of chronic conditions such as gingivitis and arthritis. If your vet prescribes Metacam for your cat long term, she may require periodic blood tests to ensure that your cat's liver and kidneys are functioning normally. Metacam is not appropriate for kittens under 4 months old and pregnant or nursing cats. Felines with existing kidney, liver or heart issues should not take Metacam, which could worsen these conditions. Cats using Metacam long term may develop stomach issues because cyclooxygenase-2, the inflammation-causing enzyme it blocks, helps to heal ulcers in the stomach.
Metacam Drug Interactions
Metacam can interact negatively with other drugs, including corticosteroids like prednisone, other NSAIDS and phenobarbital, which can increase the likelihood of serious side effects, especially kidney and liver issues. Taking Metacam along with these other medications strains your kitty's liver, which is the organ that primarily metabolizes them. Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, primarily used for heart conditions, may not be as effective when you administer them at the same time as meloxicam as it can interfere with the dilation of blood vessels in the body.
Additional Safety Warnings
Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica and the FDA issued a warning to veterinarians in 2010 regarding the risks associated with repeated dosing of cats with Metacam. Cats are more sensitive to the drug than dogs and repeated dosing in the long term may result in acute kidney failure and death in cats, even if given in the dose recommended by your veterinarian.
- Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica: Metacam
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Get the Facts about Pain Relievers for Pets
- Drugs.com: Metacam Oral Suspension for Cats (Canada)
- American Veterinary Medical Association: Company Issues Warning About Meloxicam in Cats
- Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery: Retrospective Case-Control Study of the Effects of Long-Term Dosing with Meloxicam on Renal Function in Aged Cats with Degenerative Joint Disease
- Pet Poison Helpline: Meloxicam
- petMD: Meloxicam
- VeterinaryPartner.com: Meloxicam (Metacam)
- DentalVets: Feline Chronic Gingivitis Stomatitis
- Boehringer Ingelheim: Metacam
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Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.