Veterinary sources site aspirin as the only over-the-counter pain killer that can be used in cats. But it’s not a good choice in this situation. Aspirin is an NSAID, and all NSAIDs can cause upset stomach, blood clotting problems, intestinal ulcers, and liver or kidney problems. What’s more, aspirin isn’t a very strong pain killer. And it is unbelievably easy to accidentally overdose a cat with aspirin (the standard dose is 40.5 – 81 mg by mouth every three or four days at most), or to use a product that contains something other than aspirin (such as acetaminophen, which is very toxic to cats).
Here is the long and short of the matter: don’t give your cat any over-the-counter medicines, ever, without first talking to your vet.
And while you’re talking to your vet, you may want to ask him or her why no feline-appropriate pain killers were prescribed. Surgery is painful, period. Even the least invasive surgeries cause pain.
In light of this obvious fact, I find it shocking that many vets are still sending surgery patients home without pain killers. Consider a cute Shih Tzu I treated the other day. She had been spayed a day before. The owners were told by the vet who spayed their dog that she didn’t need pain killers because she was so small. That notion is ridiculous–small dogs feel pain no differently from large ones.
The dog came to my office because she was lethargic, did not want to eat, and whimpered whenever she was touched. The diagnosis: she was in pain from a major surgery the day before. The treatment: I prescribed canine-appropriate pain killers. Folks, this isn’t rocket science.
Most vets these days understand the importance of pain control after surgery. However, it is also up to you to look out for your pet. Before surgery, ask your vet about his or her intended pain management protocol. You are entitled to be involved in the decisions that are made.