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Cat Medications - What Cat Owners Need to Know About Medications

Are prescriptions generally more effective than over-the-counter medications?

Depending upon what the scenario is, our prescriptions are typically more effective than over-the-counter medicines. But it depends upon the condition we're trying to treat. If it doesn't require prescription medications, we don't want to use it. But it seems that most of the time, the cases that we see require some type of prescription to get the results that we like.


Dr. Mitch McKee
Cupola Animal Hospitals - Berry Farms Animal Hospital

Can my cat get what they need from diet alone?

Diet is essential for ourselves and our cats. And some diseases benefit greatly from dietary change. Some of those would be like kidney disease, or if you perhaps have some type of bladder stone or bladder crystals. Or obviously, for weight management. Having the proper diet's going to be necessary.

But overall, having good nutrients and having a good food source will help your cat's overall body condition, just in terms of feeling better and making sure we can maintain proper organ function as best as possible.

What are different types of cat medications used to treat? And do you have any tips on how to give my cat medicine?

Well, there's a wide array of cat medications. We have antibiotics, pain medications, antifungals, antiparasitic drugs, and antihistamines. We also have some anti-cancer therapies, and most people are familiar with cats and hairballs. So there's medication for hairballs. Some cats need steroids for different things. And maybe we need something to help us not vomit if we have an upset stomach.

Cats will be one of our most challenging patients to medicate, and how to give them medicine is a question that we get very often. Often, people have a preference of whether they want to try a tablet or a liquid. I'd say, for the most part, most people choose to do liquid medication. It is easier.

Fortunately, we have medications now that can be given once a day, which takes a little bit of the work out of it. And also, we're fortunate to have some medications that are injectable and can last for multiple weeks. So those are particularly more of our steroid medications or one antibiotic that we use that can last for two weeks.

So, anytime that we feel like we're going to have a difficult patient to medicate, we'll try to use those injectable medications when we can. However, it doesn't fit every scenario. And so you have to get a little creative. Sometimes cats will take medications and treats. Sometimes you can crush the tablets up and put them on the food or sprinkle a capsule on the food. Or maybe perhaps mix it with water and give it in a syringe.

With our compounding pharmacies today, there are also options for the use of transdermal medications, which are gels that are rubbed inside your cat's ear, which they seem to tolerate very well.

Why is it important to avoid self-diagnosing my cat's need for pain medication?

Well, we don't have very good pain medications for cats. The way they process certain things, like Tylenol, for instance. It can be challenging for cats to break that down or some of our other anti-inflammatories. And also, you can think your cat's in pain, but it may also be having some type of distress and may be vocalizing the cause of that. But we want to be careful about diagnosing pain and, especially, giving pain medication without advice because we don't want to have any adverse effects on the cat's liver or kidney function.

Why is early detection so crucial in getting a good result from cat medications?

Just like anything else, early detection is essential for longevity, for getting a handle on the situation as quickly as you can. And the quicker you can pick up on a disease, the more advantage you have of giving that cat a longer lifespan and more quality of life.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (615) 224-7776, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.

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