Metacam for Cats: Uses, Dosage, and Side Effects

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No cat owner wants to see their pet in pain. Cats can suffer from pain caused by chronic conditions, such as arthritis, or dental infections, like gingivitis. Cats may also feel discomfort and pain caused by injuries or tumors or following surgery. Metacam belongs to a class of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, often referred to as NSAIDs, and it is used by veterinarians as a feline analgesic (for pain relief). Metacam can cause serious side effects in cats, and if not administered correctly, it can be fatal.


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What is Metacam for cats?

Metacam, also known by its generic name Meloxicam, is a liquid oral suspension medication used to reduce pain and inflammation.‌ Metacam is a prescription-only veterinary medicine produced by Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica. It is only approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in cats as a one-time injection for post-operative pain before orthopedic surgeries, spaying, and neutering. Oral Meloxicam has been approved in Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand for long term use to manage pain in cats and for chronic issues, such as osteoarthritis.


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Veterinarians in the U.S. often use Metacam oral suspension off label to manage pain in acute and chronic musculoskeletal conditions in cats. Although the use of Meloxicam as a painkiller is common, pet owners must use it as directed, as it can cause adverse reactions, such as renal failure and death in cats if given incorrectly.


What does Metacam do for cats?

Metacam is used as a painkiller and anti-inflammatory in cats.‌ Metacam works by reducing the amount of the enzyme cyclooxygenase-2, the main chemical that causes painful inflammation. Cyclooxygenase-2 is also essential in regulating kidney blood flow and some central nervous functions.


Your veterinarian may inject your cat with this medication before surgery to help them feel more comfortable as they recover. Veterinarians may also suggest the off-label use for the more long-term use of Metacam for chronic inflammatory conditions and musculoskeletal disorders, such as feline arthritis. In this case, your cat will need to be prescreened before use to ensure they have healthy cardiac, kidney, and liver function.


If your cat is prescribed Metacam long term, your veterinarian will arrange a schedule with you to conduct routine lab work to regularly monitor your cat's kidney and liver health. It may be helpful to discuss additional and alternative treatment options for your cat's pain management with your veterinarian.


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How quickly does Metacam for cats work?

Metacam should start working about eight hours after your cat has received a dose.‌ If Metacam is used long term, it may take up to three to four days before any benefit is seen. If your cat does not respond after 10 to 14 days of treatment, alternative pain relief will need to be considered.



Metacam for cats dosage

A veterinarian typically gives a dose of Metacam as an injection. Your veterinarian may also prescribe it to be administered orally. Metacam oral suspension can be given with food or directly into your cat's mouth. You must be very careful to follow dosage instructions, as an overdose can be fatal.


Metacam is most commonly given orally as a single dose of 0.2 milligrams of Metacam per kilogram of body weight for acute pain on the first day. Further, once-daily oral doses may be recommended at 24-hour intervals at 0.05 mg Metacam/kg body weight for as long as acute pain and inflammation persist.

For chronic musculoskeletal disorders, a single recommended dose of 0.1 mg oral Metacam/kg body weight may be prescribed on the first day followed by a once-daily maintenance dose of 0.05 mg Metacam/kg body weight given at 24-hour intervals.

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Side effects of Metacam for cats

Metacam is generally well tolerated in cats who have been health screened by their veterinarian. One of the potential side effects is nausea. If your cat has vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite while using Meloxicam, discontinue use immediately and consult your veterinarian. Kidney disease can present as an upset stomach, so your veterinarian needs to monitor these symptoms closely.

Some cats suffer from adverse effects caused by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Metacam. In these cases, short-term anti-nausea medications can help, as can administering Metacam on a full stomach. Contraindications for the use of Metacam are if your cat has a history of gastrointestinal ulceration.

The bottom line

Metacam is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory painkiller prescribed for cats to manage acute and chronic pain and inflammation. Its long-term use can cause kidney and liver disease, and an incorrect dosage can result in death. Veterinarians prescribing this medication will want to prescreen your cat and undertake regular lab work to monitor your cat's health to ensure there is no long-term damage. If your cat is prescribed Metacam and suffers from stomach problems, stop using it immediately and take your cat to the veterinarian.


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