Can Cats Take Metacam (or any NSAIDs)?


My 8-year-old cat had a biopsy of a lump on her back, and the vet gave me Metacam to take home and give her orally for the next four days.

Fortunately, I began to wonder if I should refrigerate it, so I looked at Metacam’s website and found that it should not be given to cats orally at all! Luckily my cat was running around just fine the next morning anyway, and I didn’t give her any of the Metacam, but my question is, does this mean my vet is not keeping up with things, or is Metacam commonly given to cats orally anyway? Thanks!


Metacam (also known as meloxicam) is a non-steroidal antinflammatory drug (NSAID). It is available as an injectable solution for dogs and cats or as an oral solution that has received approval for dogs only. Other commonly used veterinary NSAIDs include carpofen (Rimadyl), firocoxib (Previcox), and meloxicam (Deramaxx). Common human NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen (also known as Motrin and Advil), and naproxen (Aleve).

NSAIDs are great pain killers. They also can cause adverse effects. All NSAIDs have the potential to cause problems in any species. Unfortunately cats are exquisitely sensitive to adverse effects caused by NSAIDs. Click here to read all about NSAIDs in pets.

Meloxicam is the only NSAID that is approved (by the FDA) for use in cats in the United States. It is labeled for use as a single injection to reduce pain associated with surgery.

Although Metacam isn’t approved for oral administration in cats, studies have shown that oral meloxicam is an effective feline pain killer. Your vet wasn’t necessarily off base by prescribing this medicine. Many vets send cats home after surgery without any pain killers at all–that is definitely inexcusable!

However, I believe your vet did make a mistake. He or she should have talked to you about the drug, its labeling, and its safety margin in cats before prescribing it. You are the final decision maker when it comes to your cat’s health, and you deserve to be fully informed.

Oral Metacam certainly is not appropriate for all cats, and other pain killers are available. You were entitled to a comprehensive discussion of the risks and benefits of the drug before it was prescribed. This poor communication could cause problems for your vet in the future.

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