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Introducing Gabapentin: Gentle Sedation For Fearful And Aggressive Cats

If you’ve been to our office, you have met Rambo, one of our office cats, and you know all about his attitude.  Rambo does not like to be handled and loses his patience quickly.  When he needs nail trims or vaccines, he is wrapped in a towel to protect our technicians, while he howls and struggles and tries to bite.  When he needed a bath, he had to be sedated.

Rambo’s response isn’t unusual.  The cat pictured in this photo, Ollie, belongs to a staff member.  He is a sweet and cuddly cat at home, but when he needed blood drawn and a sample of urine obtained, he became so stressed out and aggressive that he needed to be sedated with gas so we could handle him safely.

The root cause of aggressive behavior in cats at the vet office is fear, and fearful cats are fractious cats. Fractious cats are a danger to themselves, as well as to our techs and doctors who have to examine and restrain them.

In the past, the only way to handle these cats was to completely sedate them.  Procedures involving sedation cost more and take more time and all anesthetic events carry some measure of risk.

That’s why we are pleased to offer an alternative to full sedation for fearful cats to keep your costs down and your scared feline happy.

Gabapentin is a human drug that is also used in the veterinary field to treat pain or to control seizures.  In cats, it is highly effective in reducing fear and anxiety!

Three hours before a vet visit, the owner gives the medication at home.  Gabapentin comes in a pre-loaded syringe in liquid form.  The sedative effect lasts for about 12 hours.  We recently examined and treated a feral cat who had been pre-medicated with this drug and she was an absolute breeze to handle.  Gabapentin does not cause full sedation, but causes a cat to be a little slow.  Dr. Danna said the best way to describe the effects is that it makes the patient indifferent.  The cat is not fearful, aggressive, anxious or even happy.  They just don’t care. Vet visits are pleasant again.

For safety, owners should know that a cat treated with gabapentin may be woozy or uncoordinated until the medication wears off.  Your cat should be confined away from stairs, high cat trees or other fall hazards until he is back to normal.

The cost for gabapentin is twelve dollars per dose.  Call the office to reserve a syringe for your fractious cat!

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