What guidelines does the veterinary industry follow to determine if medications are safe and effective for treating cats?
The FDA is very heavily invested in this. They make companies go through rigorous testing and studies to make sure that the medications that we give to cats are safe to use. Every once in a while there will be off-label usages for medications. There is one instance in a med called Sirenia that is labeled for dogs but has been proven safe in cats. Sometimes companies don't want to spend the extra money to get the FDA approval, but your veterinarian is going to know what is safe and what is not for our cats.
The same class of medications that are going to be used in our dogs and in humans, so antihistamines, antibiotics, pain medications, joint therapies, antifungals, antivirals, eye medication, ear medication, skin medication, wipes, shampoos, and mousses. So pretty much anything that you can think of, we can either get compounded or there is something available for our feline patients.
It's going to depend on which medication that you're giving and what formulation. I will say this is an excellent question because I feel like a lot of owners struggle with this. My mother is a veterinarian, and when I was first starting out trying to help and learn, this was something that I struggled with because cats aren't easy. They're squirmy and you don't want to hold them too tight, so you have to be careful and you have to be fast. I will say all the advice I'm about to give, you want to do it as quickly as possible because you have very few kitty minutes. So liquid, you're going to want to just squirt in their mouths depending on whether it absorbs through the gums or needs to be swallowed, so make sure you pay attention to your label. I like to put my fingers very gently on the side of their mouths and if you very gently squeeze right there, they will naturally open their mouths and that's your chance to go ahead and get it in. Then I will close their mouths and kind of rub here and give a little puff of air in their face to make them swallow. As far as tablets or capsules go, I'm going to use the same way to go about this where I'm going to slide my fingers back over their faces. So if this is the cat's head, I'm sliding my hand back and you'll notice that right where their cheeks are, there's a natural indentation. That's where I'm going to put my fingers, and that's the time when you're going to take the pill with your finger and go to the back of the throat. You have to be quick. Close the mouth, rub the throat, and I will give a good puff of air, which makes them swallow. You can also follow up with a little bit of water in a syringe. There are some excellent videos on YouTube on how to do this. You can also ask your veterinarian if they're able to get compounded medication until transdermal. In that case, you're going to put it on the inside of their ears. I will say that can be the easiest application, but it can be the most messy. One extra thing about cats, when they don't like the taste of things, they're going to drool or foam. That's very common. So if you see that, it's not an allergic reaction. They're not turning rabid. It's because they don't like the taste of things. Cats can be a little dramatic when they don't like the taste.
Yes, just like when your doctor gives you a written prescription for additional pain therapies or antibiotics, your prescription strength medications are always going to be better than over-the-counter. It's important to use veterinary labeled prescriptions. Please do not go and give over-the-counter medications to your cat unless specifically authorized by your veterinarian. There are some over-the-counter products that can be extremely harmful to cats. Tylenol, Advil, ibuprofen, these things are actually very toxic to cats. So you really do want to follow the directions of a veterinarian and make sure that you're giving labeled medications for cats.
Because what if you're wrong? If you're wrong and you give the wrong medication, then you could make something much worse. What I will say is, if there is a problem, it's always better to bring them in. Don't just wait and see. Please bring them in to see your veterinarian. You can give Four Paws a call. Any local veterinarian would be able to see if your cat has something that is off. Early intervention is always key. I always say that early intervention is cheaper because you're catching a problem earlier. If you let a problem continue, it snowballs and then now you may not just have one problem, now you may have five problems. So it's always better to call your veterinarian and get your cat in as soon as you notice anything abnormal.
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