Cat Owners: Share your Metacam Experiences!

As a cat owner, do you have any experience with respect to your cat being given Metacam for arthritis, or for some other requirement for pain relief (i.e. post operative)? It appears to be a controversial drug with some variation from country to country, and vet to vet, regarding safe dosage, with some dissent from aggrieved cat owners who say that their cat was killed by either a single shot of Metacam or its long term use. I respect the views of these cat caretakers. They probably know more about the drug and its negative effects than some veterinarians.

Metacam is the trade name for meloxicam. It is an anti-inflammatory. It is recommended by a good number of vets for the relief of arthritic pain. It seems to have replaced the use of corticosteroids.

Arthritis in a cat
Arthritis in a cat. Picture by Annie Mole
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

It would appear that the higher maximum dosage allowed in an injection in the USA (0.3 mg/kg) compared to Canada (0.2 mg/kg) has resulted in more fatalities from its use in that country.

In America, there is (or was) a warning on the box:

Repeated use of meloxicam in cats has been associated with acute renal failure and death. Do not administer additional doses of injectable or oral meloxicam to cats.

The problem over its use concerns cases where a cat’s kidneys have been damaged by the drug resulting in renal failure and death. Despite the warning, some vets prescribe its use beyond the recommendations. It is an effective drug, perhaps the most effective for treatment of arthritis. Arthritis is probably on the increase as cat obesity is also on the increase.

Vets are aware that it needs to be used carefully. It seems that cats with existing kidney disease are at risk of being hurt by this drug. Vets will do a blood test and urinalysis to check for kidney function before prescribing it.

The problem is that there appears to be widespread differences of opinion by vets and cat owners on its use and safety. As to long term use, which is required for control of arthritic pain, using drops (an oral suspension) on food seems to be the safest and most effective way to administer it.

One vet, in order to address the injection dosage limit problem, decided to inject 0.1 mg/kg which is one third of the safe maximum in America.

Because of the controversy surrounding this drug for use on cats it may be wise to go the more traditional routes to treat cat arthritis:

  • Weight loss
  • Exercise
  • Glucosamine
  • Anti-inflammatory vitamin supplements

Should Metacam only be used as a last resort? No seems to be the response. It appears that it cannot be used on cats with any sort of kidney disease. However, even then, some vets administer it without problems.

Conclusion

My conclusion, having read about this on the internet and a book written by Elizabeth Hodgkins DVM (Your Cat), is that it is effective and generally safe but as is the case for all drugs there may be side effects and it may harm (rarely) some individual cats. The big question is, what is the risk? I don’t think we know the answer to that important question. I believe a cat owner needs information about risk (percentage of cats injured/killed). Pending some clarification It needs to be used with care.

Perhaps someone can clarify the current situation regarding its use.

11 thoughts on “Cat Owners: Share your Metacam Experiences!”

  1. I gave this drug to my now deceased cat Charlie because he was in pain from a tumour behind his eye. I believe that it damaged his kidneys and in effect hastened the moment at which I had to instruct the veterinarian to euthanise him. I regret making the decision to give him this drug but I felt I had no choice. The veterinarian did not check his kidney function before prescribing the drug. That I believe is a failure of the veterinarian’s procedures.

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