Can I use over-the-counter drugs for domestic cats?

Yes, some over-the-counter drugs can be used for home veterinary care even when they are not labelled for use in cats. But the strong warning is that it should be done with great care and under the guidance of a veterinarian. That is the immutable advice: don’t guess dosages and stuff like that. Get it right. Don’t let the cost of a vet and the hassle of going to a vet drive you to taking risks with your cat’s health. You can make things worse with incorrect administration of drugs. The drugs listed are available in the US. There will be equivalent drugs in other countries but it is essential that professional advice is sought. The average domestic cat weighs around 10 pounds. Large to very large domestic cats weigh 15-20 pounds.

You can use over-the-counter drugs on cats with great care and under vet guidance
Drug symbol. Image by Memed_Nurrohmad from Pixabay
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Here is some information about some drugs as provided by the four American vets who wrote Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook, an excellent reference work for concerned cat caregivers which I fully recommend.

  • Decongestant – Afrin children’s strength nose drops – at one drop in one nostril: alternate nostrils each day but not for more than 5 days.
  • For pain – I’ll quote the info on aspirin verbatim: “Aspirin (buffered; enteric coated) – 81 mg (dose varies with the purpose of the medication)”. Administered with food every 3rd day.
  • Antiseptic for wounds – Betadine solution – dilute 0.2 percent (2ml to 2 quarts or 1.9 litres of tap water). Apply topically. And Chlorhexidine solution – dilute to 0.05 percent or 25 ml to 2 quarts or 1.9 litres of tap water and apply to the wound (topically).
  • Charcoal for poisons – 5 grams per 10 pounds of body weight, given orally.
  • For motion sickness – Dramamine – 12.5 mg given orally every 8 hours.
  • For constipation – the laxative Dulcolax – 5 mg which is half a suppository applied rectally once daily. My Home Treatment for Cat Constipation.
  • For gas (flatulence) – Flatulex (simethicone and activated charcoal) – 25 mg given orally as needed up to 3 times per day.
  • To induce vomiting if cat is poisoned – hydrogen peroxide – 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds of cat body weight given orally. The treatment may be repeated every 15-30 minutes for 3 times only.
  • For persistent diarrhoea – Kaolin and pectin (“beware some contain salicylates” – ask your vet) – 0.5-1 ml per pound of body weight or 1-2 teaspoons per 10 pounds give orally every 6 hours.
  • For diarrhoea – Imodium (Loperamide) – 1 mg per 10 pounds body weight give orally every other day and no more than 3 times in total.
  • For constipation – Metamucil (psyllium) – 1 teaspoon added to food once daily for short-term use. Is Metamucil safe for cats?
  • An antacid (and laxative) – Milk of Magnesia (magnesium hydroxide) – 0.5 teaspoon per 5 pounds of body weight given orally every 12-24 hours.
  • Lubricant laxative – Mineral oil – 1 teaspoon per 5 pounds of body weight added to food (not separately as it may cause asphyxiation) once or twice a week for only 2-3 days. Mineral Oil Cured Cat Constipation
  • Histamine blocker for antacid effect – Pepcid (famitodine) – 0.25-0.5 mg give orally once per day.
  • An expectorant (to relieve a cough producing mucus) – Robitussin – 0.5 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight given orally every 4 hours. Also Robitussin-DM, Benylin expectorant (dextromethorphan and guaifenesin) 0.5-1 mg for pound of body weight or 0.5 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight given orally every 6 hours. Home Treatment For Cat Cough
Wounded by car fan blade
Wounded by car fan blade. Image: Elisa.


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