Is Anti-Inflammatory Drug Safe for My Cat?

CatChannel veterinary expert Arnold Plotnick, DVM, discusses the use medicine for joint pain in senior cats.

Q: Our 11-year-old spayed female cat, Willow, has been on 0.3 mls of Metacam (.5 mg/ml strength) by mouth every other day for approximately a year and a half. This was prescribed for joint stiffness. During her last exam in January 2009, all the blood tests came back normal.  Can Willow stay on Metacam indefinitely and, if so, how often should her blood work be done? 

A: Metacam is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that is used to treat pain and inflammation.

Although numerous studies have shown it to be safe in cats, there is still a fair amount of controversy about its use. You’ve been administering it to your cat for well over a year, with no side effects. I’ve prescribed this for many cats, and have never seen any side effects. Search the Internet, however, and you’ll find passionate critics. 

In general, I try to control arthritis in cats with supplements that contain glucosamine and chontroitin, like Cosequin or Dasuquin. If the pain from the arthritis progresses to the point where glucosamine/chondroitin cannot control it, and the cat’s quality of life seems to be significantly affected, then I’ll prescribe Metacam. 

Your cat, at only 11, might be able to have her arthritis controlled without having to resort to Metacam. Talk to your veterinarian about this. If your cat requires Metacam to be comfortable, however, then you can use it long-term. I would have cat evaluated every four to six months. 

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