Managing pain in feline patients

Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. 2005 Jan;35(1):129-46. doi: 10.1016/j.cvsm.2004.08.001.


In the past 10 years, great strides have been made in the field of feline analgesia. A better understanding of the cat's unique metabolism has led researchers to realize that extrapolation across species boundaries is unwise,and this has resulted in feline-specific studies. The opioids are now used more commonly in cats, with good analgesic effect and few side effects. Excellent acute pain management is achievable in cats by using opioids, NSAIDs, alpha2-agonists, and local anesthetics. Although much of the research data has compared the use of single drugs, a multimodal approach using agents that work at different parts of the pain pathway is commonly used in clinical settings, with added benefit. Compared with dogs, few pain-scoring systems have been developed for cats, and this remains an important goal. Management of chronic pain in cats is a challenge because of the potential problems with long-term NSAID use; however, reports of low doses given at extended intervals are encouraging. As we gain experience with less traditional analgesics, such as amitriptyline, amantadine, and gabapentin, and critically evaluate complimentary therapies, our ability to provide comfort to this population of cats will improve.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / therapeutic use
  • Anesthetics, Local / therapeutic use
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Cat Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Cat Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Cats
  • Pain / diagnosis
  • Pain / prevention & control
  • Pain / veterinary*
  • Pain Measurement / veterinary


  • Analgesics
  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal