Alternatives to Prednisone for Cats

By Betty Lewis

Prednisone is used for cats for a variety of reasons, helping with allergies, cancer and autoimmune diseases. Though it's generally safe when used in the short-term, this corticosteroid carries potential side effects. If you're looking for an alternative to prednisone, natural remedies such as acupuncture or homeopathic treatments may be options.

How Prednisone Works

Your cat's adrenal glands produce mineralocorticoids, which control hydration and electrolyte levels, and glucocorticoids, which control fat, carbohydrate and protein metabolism. These corticosteroids control inflammation and affect how her body reacts to stress and immune system response. Prednisone is a glucocorticoid that works by breaking down stored sugars, fats and proteins to fuel her body in stressful times. It also inhibits the creation of substances that prompt immune and inflammatory responses.

Prednisone Uses and Effects

Prednisone is often used to address allergic reactions, helpful for providing relief for itchy skin and inflammatory responses. It's also used for:

  • Immune system suppression
  • Cancer chemotherapy, particularly for mast cell tumors
  • Reducing blood calcium levels
  • Improving blood circulation in shock situations
  • Conditions in the central nervous system to reduce swelling in the spinal cord or brain

Prednisone is usually used to little or no serious side effects for a short amount of time, however it does have the potential to result in side effects, including:

  • Excessive thirst and urination
  • Stomach irritation at high doses
  • Elevated blood sugar levels
  • Change in behavior and/or aggression
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Panting
  • Lethargy

If prednisone is used for several months, additional complications may develop, including delayed wound healing, diabetes, urinary tract infections, obesity and skin issues.

Prednisone Alternatives

Short-term use of prednisone is usually safe for cats, however you may be looking for a more natural alternative, particularly if your cat has a chronic condition such as allergies.

  • Acupuncture is helpful for stimulating the immune system and reducing itching associated with allergies.
  • Homeopathic remedies such as urtica, sulfur, rhus and tox┬ámay provide relief for allergies.
  • Antioxidants may help prevent inflammation, itching and pain.
  • Supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids and enzymes can aid in relieving inflammation, itching and pain and improve the cat's nutritional health.
  • Topical treatment such as hypoallergenic shampoos can help a cat with skin allergies.

Basic good care goes a long way; feed your cat a nutritious, high-quality diet with minimal harmful chemicals and byproducts to minimize the chance she has food reactions.

Consult a homeopathic veterinarian to determine a proper homeopathic remedy. The vet will choose a remedy based on your cat's condition, history and laboratory tests.