Assessment and management of acute pain in cats


Address correspondence and reprint requests to:
Sheilah A. Robertson, Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, PO Box 10036, Gainesville, FL 32610-0136.


Abstract: Cats are popular pets, but until recently, their peri-operative and traumatic pain had been seriously underestimated and under-treated. The lack of treatment stems from difficulty in recognizing pain, lack of licensed analgesic drugs, fear of toxic side effects, and lack of information specific to cats. Fortunately, in the last decade, many advances have been made in feline analgesia. It is now obvious that because of the cat's unique metabolism, species-specific studies are essential. Opioids are the mainstay of any analgesic protocol for acute pain and can be used with few side effects. Other drugs that can be utilized include the α2-agonists, local anesthetics, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Pain assessment in cats is challenging and developing, and validating pain scoring systems remains an important goal. The information in this article will help the critical care and emergency clinician formulate a safe and effective analgesic plan for feline patients.