As most of you know, Allegra was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism in January. She has also had some issues with overgrooming. She is currently taking Methimazole for her thyroid, and very low dose of Prednisolone, a steroid, to calm down the itchiness that was causing her to overgroom. She has been doing extremely well on both medications, but of course, she now needs regular bloodwork to monitor her thryoid and kidney function.
When our wonderful vet, Dr. Tasi, came a couple of months ago, Allegra was not in the mood to donate blood. Dr. Tasi never forces the issue. Stressing a cat beyond her tolerance capacity doesn’t serve anyone – not the cat, and not the vet or cat parent. We decided that we’d try again, and that this time, we would give Allegra a single dose of Gabapentin about two hours before Dr. Tasi’s arrival.
Gabapentin, commonly used to treat chronic pain and epilepsy, can make a significant difference in how a cat experiences a veterinary visit. In a study of 20 healthy cats with a history of signs of stress or fractious behavior during the trip to the vet and during the examination, guardians were instructed to administer a capsule of Gabapentin 90 minutes prior to placing the cat in the carrier.
Dr. Tasi has used Gabapentin successfully for her clients for quite some time. “It is remarkable to me that cats who previously hid from me or were otherwise impossible to handle will now come to me and be relaxed enough so I can perform a thorough physical exam,” says Dr. Tasi. Even though Dr. Tasi’s practice focuses on using homeopathic and other holistic remedies, she believes in an integrative approach to medicine: “If I can minimize stress for my patients with a safe medication with few side effects, that’s good for the cat, and the cat’s guardian.”
I was a little nervous about giving her the drug, since she had never had it before. Gabapentin has few side effects, and any that do occur are transient. Of the 20 cats in the study, five showed mild side effects such as minor muscle tremors, aniscoria (unequal size of pupils), hypersalivation, and vomiting. These adverse reactions resolved within 6 hours of administration. Thankfully, Allegra didn’t have any side effects. She started getting a little tired about an hour after administration, by the time Dr. Tasi arrived three hours later, she was wobbly, but alert.
Getting blood from her was so easy! And, even more importantly, Dr. Tasi was finally able to do a really thorough exam on Allegra, something that previously had to happen over the course of several visits, because she has a very low tolerance of being handled.
Her lab results were beautiful! Everything was in the normal range. Unfortunately, she will need some dental work in the near future. We had been putting it off for the past couple of years, but we can’t put it off any longer, so she has an appointment in October to go see Dr. Buelow at Animal Dentistry and Oral Surgery. Of course, I will update you after she has recovered from her procedure.
In case you’re wondering, it took about eight hours for the effects of the Gabapentin to wear off completely, but even being a little woozy didn’t stop Allegra from demanding her mid-day meal at her usual time!