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Can I Give My Cat Aspirin for Arthritis? Vet-Approved Advice


May 12, 2023
woman getting aspirin from bottle


woman getting aspirin from bottle
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If your cat deals with arthritis, you want to help it feel better in any way you can. Most often, that will be done by giving it some kind of medicine to ease arthritis pain. But what type of medicine should you give your pet for arthritis? Can you give your cat aspirin for arthritis?

The answer to whether aspirin is okay for felines is usually a resounding “no”, as aspirin can be quite dangerous for them. However, there are a few instances where a veterinarian might prescribe this medication (likely not for arthritis, though).

Here’s what you need to know about felines, aspirin, and why you shouldn’t give this pain medication to your pet.


Aspirin and Cats

Felines are very sensitive to pain medications, which is why many vets are often wary about prescribing them. But you can run into serious issues when it comes to pain medications meant for humans, such as aspirin and Tylenol. For example, did you know that a single regular-strength Tylenol could kill a cat? Acetaminophen wreaks havoc on a cat’s liver and red blood cells, so it should never be given for pain.

And while aspirin is a tiny bit safer, it can still be dangerous. This is because aspirin (and several other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) can lead to blood clotting issues, ulcers, and kidney and liver damage. Yikes! This doesn’t mean that your cat’s vet would never prescribe aspirin, though, as there could be instances where this medication is more useful than harmful. However, this would only be given in extremely low doses in specific circumstances.

Overall, it’s best never to give your kitty any over-the-counter human pain medication. Always speak with your vet first!

ragdoll cat being checked by the vet
Image Credit: Tatyana Vyc, Shutterstock

What Pain Meds Are Suitable for Cats?

So, if you shouldn’t give your cat Tylenol or aspirin for arthritis, what kind of pain medications are available for felines? There are quite a few, and which one is best for your cat will be a decision your vet will need to make. Here’s a closer look at the types of pain medications commonly prescribed for cats.

  • NSAIDs: We did say several non-steroidal anti-inflammatories are harmful to cats, but there are a couple that are okay. If your pet has been neutered or spayed, you’re probably familiar with the first one—robenacoxib. This NSAID is suitable for kitties to take short-term after surgery when directed by your vet, but is also sometimes prescribed for chronic pain conditions. There’s also meloxicam, which is used for postoperative pain as well. However, it, too, is occasionally given for chronic pain.
  • Opioids: If a cat is dealing with a lot of pain, a veterinarian might prescribe opioids. Most often, they’ll give a feline either buprenorphine or tramadol. Both pain meds can be used like the NSAIDs above—either as short-term relief after surgery or for longer periods when a chronic pain condition is involved.
  • Corticosteroids: These steroids are powerful anti-inflammatories and are sometimes used short-term for pain management. Since they reduce inflammation, they can reduce discomfort, too. However, due to their side effects, they aren’t typically used for pain relief in the long term.
  • Other Meds: There are medications that don’t fit into one class that can be used for pain relief. These include gabapentin (used to ease pain in bones, nerves, and muscles), amantadine (a med that can be combined with other meds to help with arthritis pain), and amitriptyline (actually an antidepressant, but is sometimes used for chronic pain relief).
cat being fed a cat treat or cat food by hand
Image Credit: Jakub Zak, Shutterstock

How Can I Help My Cat With Its Arthritis Pain?

When it comes to felines and arthritis, the arthritis is typically treated in multiple ways (or several treatments combined together). So, some things that could help your pet with its pain include:

  • Joint supplements, such as glucosamine and chondroitin
  • Losing weight, so there’s less weight on joints
  • Pain medication prescribed by a vet
  • Light exercise
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Lots of love from you
maine coon cat eating treats outside
Image Credit: Nikola Cedikova, Shutterstock


Final Thoughts

You should never give your cat aspirin (or any of your own OTC pain medication), as it could be quite dangerous and even result in death. If your cat is suffering from arthritis pain, the best thing to do is visit your vet, so they can prescribe safer medication. Pain medication will likely not be the only thing advised for cats with arthritis, though, as dealing with arthritis pain usually requires a multitude of approaches, such as exercise and joint supplements. But with a bit of work, you should have your kitty feeling better soon!

Featured Image Credit: antoniodiaz, Shutterstock

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