Gabapentin, an anticonvulsant drug that helps cut down on the incidence of seizures, is also a potent pain reliever used in both human and canine medicine. It is now gaining traction in feline medicine, not just for pain but also for extreme stress.
In one study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, researchers found that when given gabapentin, cats with arthritis had better mobility and quality-of-life scores than they did while taking a placebo. In another research project published in the same journal, veterinary investigators discovered that cats with a history of stress brought on by veterinary visits ended up much less anxious when examined by their doctors and were also significantly more compliant during exams when they took gabapentin instead of a dummy pill. In fact, for one in every five cats, examination was possible only when they were medicated with gabapentin.
Gabapentin can induce drowsiness, and some cats also experience side effects such as incoordination. But anecdotal observations suggest these effects are often short-lived and resolve within a few weeks, especially if the dose is increased gradually. If your cat is in chronic pain from arthritis or a wreck at the vet’s office, it’s worth discussing gabapentin with her doctor.