pain management in cats The Conscious Cat

Guest post by Lorie Huston, DVM

Within the next few months, there will be a new pain medication available for use in cats. Called Onsior®, the new medication has been approved by the FDA and is expected to be available to veterinarians as a prescription product for their feline patients within the next 10 months.

A welcome addition to the limited number of pain medications approved for cats

Because there are very few pain medications that have actually been approved for use in cats, Onsior® is a welcome addition to the arsenal of medications that can control feline pain. Onsior®, once available, will provide veterinarians and cat owners another weapon for relieving feline pain. Currently, when compared to dogs, the number of choices for pain relief in cats is somewhat limited.

According to Onsior’s manufacturer, Novartis Animal Health, “Onsior tablets are indicated to control of postoperative pain and inflammation associated with orthopedic surgery, ovariohysterectomy and castration in cats weighing at least 5.5 pounds and 6 months old. A tablet can be given to cats on an empty stomach prior to surgery and again for the next two days following the procedure.”

A dark cloud in the silver lining for the new pain medication for cats

Onsior® contains, as its active ingredient, a drug known as robenacoxib. Robenacoxib is part of a group of medications known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, or NSAIDs. Historically, veterinarians have been cautious in using NSAIDs in cats because of the danger of side effects.

NSAIDs have been used extensively in dogs and there are many such canine drugs available, such as Rimadyl®, Etogesic®, Deramaxx®, Metacam® to name just a few. However, in cats, only Metacam® has been approved and widely used. Unfortunately, Metacam® has been responsible for kidney issues in some of the cats that have received the medication. As a result, the FDA placed a warning on the Metacam® label.

The concern with the new drug, Onsior®, is that similar problems might accompany its usage as well. So, while many veterinarians are cautiously optimistic about having a new option to relieve pain in cats, they are also somewhat fearful of the potential side effects of the medication.

Interestingly, both Metacam® and Onsior® have been used in European countries much more extensively for pain control in cats than here in the United States. And there have reportedly been significantly lower numbers of adverse effects with Metacam® than what has been seen here in the United States. The reason for this is unclear. One hypothesis is that the labeling for Metacam® is less restrictive in European countries than it is here in the US. As a result, veterinarians overseas have greater access to educational materials pertaining to the proper use of the medication. Here in the United States, the FDA has strict rules prohibiting the manufacturer of a drug from giving any advice about using the medication in an off-label fashion. As a result, the theory suggests that veterinarians here in the US have more limited access to the proper educational materials and are therefore less apt to use Metacam® in a safe manner than veterinarians overseas.

I’m not sure about the reason for the difference in safety between European countries and the US. Perhaps the theory about education is correct. I have used Metacam® for pain relief in my feline patients on occasion without any adverse effects. However, I have never used the medication in an off-label manner.

That being said, I am happy to see a new medication being made available for pain relief in cats. However, I will probably rely more heavily on choices that I am more comfortable in providing (buprenorphine, tramadol, etc.) until Onsior® has been around long enough and been used in enough cats here in the US to prove itself not only effective but safe as well.

Lorie Huston has been practicing veterinary medicine for over 20 years. Besides a successful career in a busy small animal hospital in Providence, RI, Lorie is also a successful freelance writer specializing in pet care and pet health topics. 


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64 Comments on New pain medication for cats comes with some cautions

  1. This article is several years old, however I wanted to post this in the event someone like myself in 2021 decides to Google A. How safe this medication is and B. if I can crush it up in my cats food..

    After reading these comments I was terrified and called my vet immediately to talk through my concerns. She assured me that the pill was flavored, so crushing it was not necessary. I asked if I needed to give it to her if she wasn’t exhibiting any signs of pain, to which she said “pets are very good at pretending they’re not in pain.”

    I gave her the dose over the next three days and had ZERO issues whatsoever. If you are reading this and like me, concerned based on what you read, just know that not everyone had a bad experience with this. I can’t speak for every animal or situation, but I am very glad that I decided to give this to her and relieve some of her pain from being spayed.
    I ultimately waited until dinner time and mixed a pill in with a small amount of her wet food and she gobbled it up with no problem.

    Wishing the best for all you animal lovers out there! 🙂

  2. My 7 month old kitten named Nugget has an upper respiratory infection. Took her to vet. He gave her a .15 shot of Onsior. She had some type of adverse effect to it. She has been seizing, can’t stand up, eat or drink, her eyes were all glazed over. Went full blown with Pedialyte, probiotics, calorie booster, forti flora. Today she is more alert, not flopping around. She is eating and drinking slowly, but still not able to stand or walk. It is as if she has no muscle control. Called the maker of Onisior today. Said they don’t show any studies causing these reactions, but I beg to differ, their own studies on their website say otherwise. My kitten only weighs 4lbs. Why would my vet give her this, knowing it said 5.5 lbs or more? My only concern is should I give her the Clindamycin for the respiratory infection or wait until the Onisior is out of her system. Will she ever walk again? Any advise or help would be greatly appreciated. I love my Nugget and don’t want to have to put her down.

  3. My cat will have to be put down due to side effects of onsior 6 mg. tablets. He had a limp probably from an injury, the vet put him on 3 pills of this awful drug, after he had the third dose he stopped eating and drinking. We took him to the vet Wed. and he had lost 2 lbs. in 5 days. We are trying to give him foods with a syringe but he can’t handle it. We can’t watch him suffer any longer, if he’s not better tomorrow, he will have to be put down.

  4. My 10 year old cat was given Onsior tablets for dental surgery. She was fine after the surgery and had been given one at the vets. I gave her the the next dose the next night crushed in wet food (DO NOT CRUSH!). That was her last good day. After getting her to my vet when she stopped eating her labs showed acute kidney failure. The animal hospital tried to save her but she did not recover. I lost her last night at midnight. At 3AM I found online (VIN) where it says do not crush or break. I’m sure it was the Onsior and especially the fact that I crushed it that killed my cat. I wish I had never given her that pill.

    • I am so sorry for you loss, I wish I had read your post before giving my cat this medicine. I feel he is suffering greatly, not eating not drinking, not purring…he’s barely alive. We put his pill in his food to let it soften, it must have been too strong.

  5. My precious older cat, Layla, died from this 6mg pill! Her heart beat was 120 beats per minute & the vet said it was of no concern. Later that night she could barely breathe & then got fluid in & around lungs. She is dead from this AWFUL pill. STAY AWAY.

  6. We are devastated to have recently lost our wonderful
    cat Kevin to acute kidney failure. He was a rescue we got 3 yrs ago, the vet thinks he was about 8 but in very good health. He had some arthritis in his back and he was put on meta am daily. One day he seemed especially stiff we took him in and when examined the vet must have pressed a disc or nerve because he was then in excruciating pain. His blood levels showed his kidneys were fine – no issues at all. He was put on a pain patch 3 days and the 2 more pain patches again 3 days on. He was then put on onsior in November, 1 tab daily. Last week his back seemed to be bothering him. We took him back, blood tests showed his kidneys were failing – we gave him a binding agent and another powder to help his kidneys function but he stopped eating and drinking. He went from being a happy cat to being in pain and discomfort – there was no way to turn around the damage. I am convinced it was the onsior & I don’t understand why my vet didn’t want him monitored more closely since this is a known side affect. I have always trusted conventional medicine, now I wonder.

    • I believe you are right about Onsior causing your beautiful cats problem. I too took my cat to the vet for stiffness in her hips so he put Baby on Onsior. She was deemed a healthy cat when I left the office. Soon afterward my life long pet was dead. I blame the Onsior, no doubt about it.

  7. My 10+ year old cat, Binx recently lost a significant amount of weight & developed a bad limp. The vet diagnosed him with mild kidney function issues & arthritis.

    He tried him on a pain reliever but he stopped eating. Then we switched him to Onsior. It really helps relief the pain issue but I’m very concerned it might. Make his kidneys worse. Plus the cost is alot on my budget. I don’t want him to suffer when I can’t afford his meds.

    I have lupus & arthritis so I read alot about how diet van aggravate autoimmune conditions. I decided to try him on a gluten-free cat food 4 older cats. I have been amazed at the differnce. He has gained weight. & he is much more active. He has even started plaing chase with my younger cat. Today he is paying 4 being so wild yesterday. He is limping again. I would like to find an inexpensive safe natural pain reliever 4 him. Does anyone have any suggestions?

    • Hi Vickie, the only suggestion i can make is what helped my cat and i must stress Helped not cured.
      Green lipped mussel powder (it took about 4-5 weeks before i could see it was working) which made his limp much less pronounced for a couple of years but after that his limp returned to where it had been and got even worse.

      I then towards the end of his life tried him on a product called 4Cyte which seemed to be helping but i never got the chance to say for sure as he was put to sleep before he had been on it long enough to see the true extent of how effective it was.

  8. Please refer to Onsior Injectable safety studies were are remarkable and help relieve the misconception and doubt around NSAID use in cats. In its studies, cats were given 5x the dose of Onsior daily for SIX MONTHS and there were no deaths. Onsior has an incredible short half life at 1.1 hours, which is why its safety margins are so desirable. Metcam half is 15 hours so much harder on the kidneys.

    • The studies were only done on a small group of cats, and six months isn’t long enough to account for longterm damage to the kidneys. While Onsior is definitely a better choice than Metacam, I don’t think the fact that there were no deaths in six months is sufficient to ease doubt around NSAID use in cats.

    • Hi

      I live in Europe and my vet gave in 2012 Onsior tablets for my, then 14 y/o Siamese cat who experienced difficulties in walking (limping a bit)- probably caused by a misstep/jump.
      I gave 1 tablet that very same evening and another one the next evening.
      The limping was gone, but he started throwing up, stopped eating and feeling miserable.
      I went back to that same vet, who then administered an antibiotics shot and sent me home again.
      He by then only had gotten more ill and I seriously thought it was the end..

      The next day I rushed to another vet, who did the most sane thing and checked his blood.
      He was diagnosed with acute Kidney Failure and was admitted and put on a 3 day fluid drip.
      When I took him home after those 3 days his kidneys were working a bit better, but still not within normal references.
      So it now turned into CKF.
      It took extremely long, (months) of intensive care with regular force feeding before he ate (his now kidney diet) all by himself again.
      I am convinced that had I not given him this intensive care, he would not have made it then.

      He did well up until June 2015 where he reached stage 4 of CKD.
      I had to put him to sleep on the end of September.

      So what I have learned from this:
      Be cautious indeed.
      Especially with older cats.
      Be sure to have first checked their blood to see if everything is withing normal range before even thinking about giving NSAID’s.
      Do NOT think Onsior would be safer than Metacam, because they both share the same risks, especially when administered without having the blood checked first.

      You cannnot depend on assuming alone that cats kidneys are in good working order.
      Having that said, I myself wont give it to younger cats either without a proper blood check first.

      Vets should do the blood check standard before administering any NSAID to any cat imo.
      If they dont, its Russian Roulette.

      So be careful with it is all I can say.
      I’m positive I would still have my cat alive today without those 2 Onsior tablets. 🙁

    • I am convinced that Metacam caused seizures in my cat. Since getting off Metacam the seizures have completely stopped but now he is limping so bad that adequin is not enough and the Vet is talking about Onisor. I AM NOT CONVINCED – if it works the same way maybe we should stick to cotizone and adequin?? THOUGHTS??

  9. Our 19 y.o. cat has just recently (the last month) shown signs of serious arthritis, including muscle wasting, mobility issues, etc. We have used Onsior twice over the past month (for the initial episode of lameness in late June) and then again for another, less severe but still heartbreaking episode a week ago. In both uses, we saw immediate relief, increased range of motion, and easing up of mobility problems. But, of course, as an NSAID it’s not a long-term solution. (All T’s blood work–kidney, liver, etc. is fine. She has been treated for hyperthyroid for about 4 years but that seems managed well.)

    We have a truly fabulous vet, and she is willing to follow our lead here. She also said that given how well Tillie did on Onsior, she wouldn’t worry about continuing to use it occasionally to help with severe pain, or mobility probs. (Once a week or once every two weeks would be okay, she thinks.) Our vet also proscribed Gabapentin (which is a neuropathy medicine that has some pain reducing features.) So we’ve been on 2x daily Gabapentin and our vet sent us home with a packet of Onsior for us to use as we see fit.

    So, I’m learning a lot, and still trying to figure out how best to combine these meds. This week Tillie’s been pretty good–better than she was–although still a little creakier on her legs than what seems normal to me. Today, she’s a bit worse, but still engaging with us/ wanting to be petted / sleeping in her spots / eating, etc.

    I’m wondering about using half or less of a Onsior tablet if she’s still worse tomorrow. This would be on top of the Gabapentin. The tablet isn’t scored for cutting which my Vet tells me means that the manufacturer can’t guarantee that the same amount of the active ingredient is equally distributed–so that one half might be stronger than the other half of the pill. But I wanted to hear more from those of you that tried the partial pill usage about whether or not that worked.

    Thanks! We were so worried last weekend that this was the end, but our vet was very reassuring and indicated that we are just now trying to manage this so there are various things we can try. We do all the supplements, fish oil, and have step stools, etc. for her around the house. It does just break my heart to see her wobbly back legs! But that’s MY issue, I think, more than hers. She does NOT like it when I pick her up and try to help her. So any advice gratefully received. Thanks.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience with Onsior, Patty. I have no personal experience with either of the two drugs, but I’m sure others will chime in with their experience. All my best to you and your kitty!

    • Hi Patty, i recently went through the same problem you have but my cat was also suffering from progressing kidney disease.
      I tried all the supplements too and the only one that i know worked for a while was green lipped mussel powder, towards the end that was no longer helping so i tried prescription joint food which didn’t help.
      I did try at the end a product called 4Cyte and after 4 weeks it seemed to be helping, but my poor little boy’s kidneys were very close to failing and he had become anaemic.
      Hospital treatment was going to be expensive with ongoing medical bills and would only extend his life for a few months, i made the decision to euthanize him at the vet clinic at the same time i found out how bad his kidneys had gotten, i couldn’t let him get any worse, but now i can’t stop thinking that i gave up on him.

      Gabapentin didn’t help my cat nor did Tramadol, green lipped mussel helped for a while and 4Cyte seemed to be helping at the end but i didn’t get the chance to confirm that it was working.
      I would ask your vet if they think the 4Cyte is worth trying.

      • So sorry for your loss, Steve. I’m sure you didn’t give up on your boy–but had been his advocate for a long time, and didn’t want him to suffer. And the triple-whammy of painful arthritis, painful kidney issues, and anaemia would also have inclined me to the same choice. I can tell you loved him and gave him the best care you possibly could.

        As for Tillie: I think the Gabapentin is helping a bit–though not as dramatically as the NSAID. Of course, it’s hard to say whether this is causation or correlation, but Tillie does seem a little steadier (and less painful). We feel very fortunate that she’s got normal kidney and liver numbers for now, and know that this is something to be on the lookout for.

        But I also feel, given that she’s 19, that I’d rather give her some time without pain even if it hastens kidney issues. It’s always such a trade-off. Steve–I think I read that you were trying Onsior. Did that help at all?

        • No Patty i never tried any NSAID’s because of his kidney disease, the product that i thought may have been helping at the end was 4CYTE.
          There is a study published on the net where in dogs 4CYTE was found to be as effective as one of the NSAID’s, i think it was Rimadyl.

  10. Does anybody know if there is any evidence that Onsior is safer to give long term to cats than Meloxicam?
    My cat is 18 and has kidney disease and chronic pain from arthritis, i have tried him on a lot of supplements like fish oil, krill oil, glucosamine, green lipped mussel, joint guard, and medication like gabapentin, tramadol and pentosan injections, none of it is helping him move with less pain.
    I know that NSAIDs should not be used with kidney disease but almost every medication says that so what are you supposed to do.
    The Vet he has been seeing seems disinterested in his pain saying that because he is still eating he isn’t in much pain, but this cat in the last 6 months has gone from walking around the yard obviously in some pain to now not even moving off his bed unless it’s to use his litter box or wanting to go outside in the morning which is what he has done every morning for 18 years, but now i have to carry him outside and carry him back inside of a night.
    I just don’t know what to do, the vet has told me he needs to be on meloxicam but then when i asked for a prescription he said he can’t have it because it will destroy what’s left of his kidney function.

    • I’m not aware of any NSAID’s that are safe for longterm use in cats, Steve. It sounds to me like you need to find a new vet. From your description, it’s abundantly clear to me that your cat is in pain from his arthritis. There may be some other options that you haven’t tried yet. Adequan may be an option for some cats. Laser therapy has shown some good results in treating arthritis pain in cats.

      At your cat’s age, you may also need to weigh the benefits of controlling his pain vs. the longterm side effects of the medication – but again, you’ll need to work with a vet who understands how to assess and treat feline pain.

      I hope this helps.

    • Hi, Steve,

      It sounds like you’ve tried a lot of meds and supplements, and forgive me if this goes against anything, but have you considered herbal, holistic or alternative meds which are in many cases safer for overall function and effective at pain management? Have you considered Reiki treatments, acupuncture, or red light therapy?

      If you’re unfamiliar with any of this, please grant me a moment to describe. Reiki is a non-invasive treatment using hands-on healing to shifts the energy field to balance it out. I was skeptical myself until I had my first (free!) Reiki experience, and it blew my mind. Acupuncture can help too, and red light (laser) therapy has been shown to heal wounds almost overnight, and does wonders for arthritis. There are even consumer-sized red light torches that you could use on your cat. I know a red light therapist in Florida with whom I could connect you for more information and networking. As for Reiki, if you google it, you should be able to find practitioners in your area as well as holistic practitioners who can advise you on the best alternative meds for your dear cat.

      Be well!

      • Thanks for the ideas although i won’t be trying the reiki, i had a session with a reiki healer several years ago and got absolutely no benefit from it, same with chiropractic i had 2 sessions a week for 3 months and was no better than when i started treatment.
        There is 1 animal chiropractor near where i live but unfortunately she is not a vet, but i am looking into a trial with her for my cat depending on cost because i have virtualy no funds left after the last 5 months of vet visits and an operation.
        The therapist in Florida is not going to be of help because i live on the other side of the world.
        There are no vets where i live that offer laser therapy.

        • Ah, well, the trick with Reiki is, the recipient must be open to receiving it. With humans, we have so many mental blocks about it that our limiting beliefs can impede the receiving of it. Animals are far more open, though they will let you know when they’ve had enough by jumping up and running away in the middle of it. 🙂

          • Oh, forgot about the laser–you wouldn’t have to be in the States. You could either network to find a practitioner near you, or perhaps look into purchasing a torch for personal use.

    • My comment may be too late I’m sorry to hear about your cats arthritis pain but I can attest to CBD really making a difference for older cats with arthritis… and it’s an actual supplement as opposed to a pharmaceutical medication that can affect their kidneys etc.
      As well my friend‘s 14-year-old dog who was full of cancer was given CBD three times a day and he was like a happy puppy all over again still wanting to go for walks in with a good appetite. Whereas on metacam he could not get comfortable and was panting and whining. Within 20 minutes of a CBD dose he was comfortably snoring in the middle of the night or ready to go for a walk in the daytime. Hope this helps as no one has mentioned CBD here for pain relief/stress and anxiety reduction for their animals.

  11. We used metacam for awhile with my arthritic cat. He’s 19 years old and our choices were medication (and the vet explicitly warned us about potential side effects, including kidney failure) and euthanasia. He did have some side effects, and we’ve just switched to Onsior, but for a lot of pet parents its not a question of a few days of pain, its a question of the risk of side effects or loss of life. My cat was not bathing himself and only moved to eat or eliminate. On meds, he still gets around slowly, but he’s social with the people and with the other cat.

    These meds saved us from having to euthanize him, and I’ll always be grateful.

  12. The cat that I was within minutes of putting down on Monday is up an around, playing, sociable, and just ate a plate of dry food. She is off meds, for now, that could change of course, but thank God I didn’t give up. It was a hassle, 5 times to the vet, expensive, but all worth it to see her just now eat her first dry food since early May without great discomfort. It was touch and go, my nerves are shot, but it looks like she’s going to make it. I used a few antibiotics, 7 Onsior tabs in total, followed by prednisolone for a few days – I still have 3/4 the prescription remaining. Maybe I got lucky; maybe it was my not giving up too soon. I don’t feel entirely out of the woods with her just yet, but seeing her back to dry food and water is close to a miracle, considering just 5 days ago she almost gone, skin and bones, and not at all lucid. This thread started regarding Onsior. When I insisted on more pain meds so she could eat, the vet was reluctant. I read about the kidney problems and understand, but she needed them, she was going to die otherwise. I started giving her halves and canned food and she started coming around. I switched to the prednisolone from whole to halves to zero. She’s back, I had to fight for her, but it was worth it. The vet didn’t want to provide pain meds. It appears that is what allowed her to eat, her energy returned, her personality. Thanks for your site and allowing my story.

  13. Do some vets simply write off a cat when they think they might be terminal? I’ve been actively researching kidney issues for a week because I question the diagnosis we were given. I took my 9-year-old cat in for a mouth issue. He was licking his lips and becoming increasingly ginger about eating. He went from plump to normal weight (gradually) then suddenly just didn’t look “right”.

    After watching him lip-lick for a day or so and lose interest in eating, I just knew something was off, so in we went. My cat wasn’t the easiest to examine (wriggly twisty fighter who did not want his mouth examined), so the vet, after a quick look, said he “can’t see anything in his mouth” (well, neither could I, all I got was a quick peek before he twisted out of grip again), ordered a full blood panel, and told me it “looks like it might be chronic renal failure”. We were sent home with K/D, a subQ system, and when I asked when we should come back in, he shrugged and said, “Oh, maybe a month?” As if it didn’t matter.

    I requested and received a copy of the blood tests, did my own research, learned that the crucial kidney-issue levels could also be a temporary spike due to dehydration (which he has), and now I have a bazillion unanswered questions because he’s only exhibiting SOME of the symptoms of CRF, and other key factors are missing.

    My gut instinct (combined with research) says it’s not CRF, though the treatment will help to some extent (and not harm), but it’s also saying it’s vital that we find the real issue and address that. Since I feel like my current vet is blowing us off (as in “he’s terminal, what’s the point”) and not committed to his well-being, we have an appointment with another vet on Monday.

    That said, the final straw was when I asked several times for something for the pain in his mouth as well as to curb any nausea causing him to not want to eat (some days he eats several times, others he doesn’t want to eat–I assist-feed when necessary). I looked up the drugs provided online–now why, if you THINK a cat has CRF/kidney issues, would you prescribe a medicine that should NOT be given to cats with kidney issues, rather than another kidney-safe option (of which there are many)?

    Is my (possibly former) vet trying to hurry up and kill my cat so he won’t be bothered with him (and my annoying questions) anymore?

    This cat is the love of my life. If he goes down, we’re going down fighting. I really think it’s more likely to be diabetes or pancreatitis (if it IS related to that system), OR the CRF-like symptoms (spikes in certain levels) are CAUSED by the untreated, undiagnosed mouth issues and the dehydration caused by not eating wet food or drinking until he’s absolutely too parched not to. (The subQ helps considerably.)

    Sorry for the long ramble, it’s just helpful to vent to those who understand.

    • I find the description of how your vet dealt with your cat very disturbing – no thorough dental exam, brushing off your concerns and questions, not to mention a complete lack of “bedside manner”? Never discount your gut instinct, Jeanne. I’m glad you have an appointment with another vet on Monday. Please keep us posted.

      • GOOD NEWS.

        We got a second opinion with an AWESOME vet who was able to get a good look in his mouth. He had a raging dental infection with an abscess forming. The vet looked over his blood work and explained it very carefully–if it IS CRF, it’s still early (something the first vet did not lead me to believe). There is also a very good chance that his kidneys were under stress from the infection and lack of hydration.

        This vet gave him a two-week antibiotic shot, some Hill’s A/D, and some liquid pain killer to use when necessary (buprophenine). I continued doing subQ’s every other day. I force-fed him when he wouldn’t eat, even if all I could get into him was 5ml of A/D puree. I cared for the drainage tract that formed on his muzzle with Epsom Salt compresses until it ceased. I monitored him closely, alternated between elation and sobbing, and finally. FINALLY.

        He is voluntarily eating on his own. He even nibbled at a few grain-free crunchies. His food intake and interest level has been steadily increasing for a week now. He is weaned off of the pain meds. Yesterday, I got 90ml of puree into him (in separate feedings)–the most he’d eaten in one day in three weeks–and then he went head-first into another cat’s dish of regular cat food and devoured most of it, too. His appetite is back. His personality is back. He’s retaining hydration on his own, though I’m carefully monitoring that, too and have the subQ armed and ready.

        Does he have CRF? Don’t know yet. But he’s back, and brimming with life. He’s scheduled for an extraction on Thursday; because he’s doing so well, I hesitate to put him under the stress of surgery and anesthesia when he’s just beginning to even out. I’d rather wait until he’s proven to be stable. I’m probably going to ask for a delay on that, and instead, have him examined Thursday to re-evaluate the situation first. It could be that this was a one-time infection, not a chronic infection.

        I know what signs to watch for now, and I am UNBELIEVABLY HAPPY that I have my beloved cat back. I was so close to losing him. I didn’t give up, I fought for his life, and he has been head-butting me and rubbing me repeatedly for the past couple of days. It’s as if he is saying “Thank Mew”.

        Always trust your gut. And do your research. Thanks for letting me share.

    • That was not a ramble. I’m with you. It pays to see your vet loaded with some knowledge of your own so they can’t blow you off. That’s what I just did, after the 3rd trip. It got results though. He knew I wasn’t going to go away. First they insisted on a dental. I said, ‘that’s great, my dead cat is going to have clean teeth’. After that he stopped charging me for exams, which is just a damn scam. I have also gone to this place in the past and saw a different vet who didn’t immediately know I’d seen another vet, at the same clinic 2 weeks earlier; he tells me something totally different. That blood work can be a ripp off too. The vet told me yesterday that many things cannot be detected through blood work. Basically most things at a clinic confirm a healthy cat, not find the problem, unless it is obvious, like kidney failure — in which case a simple panel will detect it at a fraction of the cost. How unfortunate, buyer beware with your vet (in some cases). I wish I had a great vet, I know they are out there, most of them I’m sure. But I am also sure some vets are not willing to take that extra step, the one we want them to take, to save your cat. I’ve had it happen and will research every vet I see in the future: if I ever get another chance.

      • It sounds like you already know that you need to look for a better vet, Mike. While it’s true that not all problems can be detected through bloodwork, that doesn’t mean a vet should stop pursuing other diagnostics. I’d look for an internal medicine specialist and/or dental specialist so your cat can be diagnosed properly.

        • I agree, I wish it was easier though. Way too often it would seem as if you need to find out the hard way, just how good, and understanding your vet is. Part of it involves the interaction with the pet owner as well. Judging from some of the comments that I have read, people are upset about they were treated, as well as their pet. My first visit, my observations of the problem with my cat fell upon deaf ears. After reading up on a few things, by my third visit the vet paid attention to every word I said. I could not live with the idea that the loss of my cat was in part my fault— Amazing, just now the vet called to ask how she was doing. I was there yesterday, demonstrated I had done research on my own, and I have to think it had an affect on my vet. What ever ultimately happens, I feel like I tried as hard as I could. It’s even possible my vet learned something. Of course your point: to find a very good vet to start with, is the answer. Thank you very much.

        • I agree, I wish it was easier though. Way too often it would seem as if you need to find out the hard way, just how good, and understanding your vet is. Part of it involves the interaction with the pet owner as well. Judging from some of the comments that I have read, people were upset about how they were treated, as well as their pet. My first visit, my observations of the problem with my cat fell upon deaf ears. After reading up on a few things, by my third visit the vet paid attention to every word I said. I could not live with the idea that the loss of my cat was in part my fault— Amazing, just now the vet called to ask how she was doing. I was there yesterday, demonstrated I had done research on my own, and I have to think it had an affect on my vet. What ever ultimately happens, I feel like I tried as hard as I could. It’s even possible my vet learned something. Of course your point: to find a very good vet to start with, is the answer. Thank you very much.

  14. I’m not sure I would risk this drug, my 2 year old was given an injection of Metacam last year (used as per label) and within 3 days her kidneys had failed. Luckily we were able to treat her in time and she’s completely recovered.
    I think with any drug you have to weigh up the benefits Vs risk, my cat was given the shot for suspected cystitis- not pain. If I’d known what I now know I would never have risked it.
    I think I would always opt for a non- NSAID for pain relief until the mechanism of action/ metabolism in felines is better understood- especially when the adverse effects can affect as many as 1 in 3 cats.

      • Thanks Ingrid, she’s fine now, wouldn’t have been if we’d left it 1 more day. Now its like it never happened – except to our bank account as 5 days at Tufts Emergency room is not cheap! I now have insurance….

        • No kidding, how unfortunate our love for our pets is so expensive. I gave my cat 1/2 an Onsior in her food this morning and right on cue, as I’m writing this, she just jumped up to say hi and want to play, unbelieveable, an hour ago she was hiding in pain somewhere. My throat is sore from calling her. When she hurts I don’t know where she goes, but I do know she will not come regardless how long I call her. I’m so happy right now to have her by my side purring. A drug is making that possible. Perhaps pressure needs to be applied on these companies to get out information. I gave mine half — no one told me to do it. I’m glad I did.

  15. Finding effective and SAFE pain management for cats is a Holy Grail, for certain. I will not give Metacam to my cats, ever. I’ve read and heard too many stories of cats dying from even a tiny dose of this drug. It’s distressing that in Europe they have access to better information about how to use this product off-label, that probably would have saved cats here in the USA, had their Vets and owners known. What sort of world is it where there are rules about restricting information is a good thing? Honesty is better…they could have said “off label use has seen some effectiveness in cats under these conditions”…they could put a warning or disclaimer on the product so everyone wins.

    For my own cats, I have to wonder if being in pain for a few days and being ALIVE, is wiser than giving them NASIDs that potentially could kill or seriously sicken them?

    And the problem is…we can’t ask them how much pain they’re in and if this medication even helps them feel any better. For all we know they are just drugged into a stupor for a few days and get no relief of their pain at all.

    I guess time wil tell. Maybe Onsior will do the trick? I just hope there are no casualties down the road that show us otherwise.

    • I gave Metacam to Buckley, and it was most definitely effective. I saw an immediate difference in her after it was given, and could see how the effects were wearing off after a few days (I gave the injectable version, which lasts for a few days). However, the only reason I agreed to use this was because at the time, sadly, I already knew that Buckley didn’t have much time left, so longterm kidney damage was not a concern.

      I’m skeptical about this new drug, since it is an NSAID, too, but maybe it will have fewer side effects than Metacam.

      As Dr. Huston mentions in her post, there are other, non-NSAID options available for pain control in cats. Pain is never a good thing, aside from the fact that none of us can stand the thought of our cats being in pain, it also slows down healing

      • My cat is 7 now, that may influence my thinking concerning the side-effects of Onsior . I figure if she has 3 more quality years that is acceptable. She cannot swallow without pain. The vet cannot find the problem obviously after a dental, blood, x-ray… it’s a mystery. But when she’s on the drug she’s full of life. How can you put a cat to sleep that wants to live, play, enjoy her food? If younger the kidney damage would scare me, but at 7 — give her the drugs and a few more years, quality years. It is unfortunate information is hard to obtain for other drugs. I cannot believe that logic, it’s wrong and cruel.

        • I’m glad Onsior is helping your cat, and I totally get that we all want to do anything to not have our cats experience pain. 7 is still pretty young, though. I would keep a close eye on her kidney values. That way, if anything changes, you may be able to look for a different solution to manage her pain if necessary.

          • Felix has congenital bone deformities, and is in pain with his legs. His internist has him on this every other day. It has been a miracle for him. He does have his kidney values checked every couple months, and so far so good. His vet and feel that him being in less pain is more important right now. She said its better for him to feel better now, than worry about a shorter life in pain. Sounds odd at first, but it makes sense. Quality is more important right now than quantity.

          • Thank you for sharing your experience with this drug. I’m glad it’s helping Felix. And I agree that quality of life is more important than longevity in this case.

          • My 14 (almost 15yo) beloved tortie was diagnosed with arthritis 2yrs ago. In addition to trying other therapies (laser, Assisi Loop, massage, pet steps all over the house, etc), the doctor has now suggested I give Onsior. She’s 12lbs and the doctor suggested I give her 1/2 a tab (3mg), but being a paranoid “mom”, I only gave her 1.5mg. She seems to move around a bit better (maybe 30% improvement), so I’m encouraged and believe 3mg would show a marked improvement.

            4catmom: I just wanted to check in with you to determine how Felix was doing and whether his kidney values were still normal?

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