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Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to give Meloxicam (Metacam) to my cat?

Short Answer

It depends on your veterinarian's recommendation, drug format, and dosage.

Long Answer

Meloxicam is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) formulated for humans that is also used successfully to treat pain and inflammation in dogs with conditions such as osteoarthritis. Its use in cats has been controversial due to cases of acute renal failure and death. To muddy the waters further, its use in cats in the U.S. is severely restricted by the Food and Drug Administration while Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe have more liberal policies regarding its use.

In the United States

On October 27, 2010 the U.S Food and Drug Administration announced that the manufacturer of Metacam (active ingredient meloxicam) had added a black box warning to two products at the FDA's request: METACAM® Solution for Injection and METACAM® Oral Suspension:

WARNING

Repeated use of meloxicam in cats has been associated with acute renal failure and death. Do not administer additional injectable or oral meloxicam to cats. See Contraindications, Warnings, and Precautions for detailed information.

The FDA approved a one-time use of METACAM® Solution for Injection "in cats before surgery to control postoperative pain and inflammation associated with orthopedic surgeries, spays, and neuters," but states "the safety and effectiveness of more than one dose of METACAM® Solution for Injection has not been shown in cats for any condition." And, "No safe and effective dose of the oral suspension is approved for cats."

In Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe

Small doses of Meloxicam in oral liquid form have been prescribed for long-term pain relief in cats with few adverse reactions reported. As in the U.S., a single dose of METACAM® Solution for Injection is used by veterinarians to control post-operative pain.

Caution

Cat giving a warning None of the literature sanctions the use of Meloxicam in tablet form for feline use. The strength is many times higher in tablets than the small doses administered in liquid form. Because cats are very sensitive to Meloxicam, even a small degree of error can result in an overdose. The liquid form allows for precise measurement to ensure the safety of your cat.

Conclusions

Your veterinarian's knowledge of Meloxicam and your cat's health makes him or her your most reliable resource. By all means, do your own research and discuss any concerns you have with your vet.

Additional Information

Meloxicam (Wikipedia.org)
"Since 2003, the oral (liquid) formulations of meloxicam have been licensed in the U.S for use in dogs only, with the January 2005 product insert specifically warning in bold-face type: "Do not use in cats." An injectable formulation for use in dogs was approved by the FDA in November 2003, with a formulation for cats, for surgical use only, approved in October 2004."

"In the U.S., per the manufacturer's clinical instructions as of July 2010, injectable meloxicam is indicated in operative use with felines as a single, one-time dose only, with specific and repeated warnings not to administer a second dose. In June 2007, a new oral version of meloxicam was licensed in Europe for the long-term relief of pain in cats. As of June 2008, meloxicam is registered for long term use in cats in Australia, New Zealand, and throughout Europe."
FDA Announces Addition of Boxed Warning to METACAM® (meloxicam) Labels (FDA.gov)
"FDA asked B.I.V.I. to add the boxed warning based on FDA's review of reported adverse drug events for METACAM®. FDA identified many cases of kidney failure and death in cats associated with repeated use of METACAM®."

"METACAM® Solution for Injection is approved for one-time use in cats before surgery to control postoperative pain and inflammation associated with orthopedic surgeries, spays, and neuters. In the United States, the safety and effectiveness of more than one dose of METACAM® Solution for Injection has not been shown in cats for any condition."

"METACAM® Solution for Injection and METACAM® Oral Suspension are approved in dogs to control pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis. METACAM® Oral Suspension is approved for dogs only. No safe and effective dose of the oral suspension is approved for cats."
Meloxicam (Vetbook.org - Australia)
"Meloxicam is an approved NSAID for use in cats as an anti-inflammatory, analgesic agent for pain management."

"At a dose of 0.1 mg/kg orally (loading dose) followed by 0.05mg/kg once daily as a maintenance dose, it is used for long-term management of arthritis and chronic gingivitis. An injectable version is also available for short-term pain-relieving, such as routine desexing."

"In Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, Metacam is marketed as a 0.5 mg/ml product, and is registered for use in cats, whereas the United States version of Metacam is 1.5 mg/ml and is only registered for use in dogs. They also have a 0.5mg/ml version in the U.S.A. for small dogs, but is not registered for use in cats."

"The American Association of Feline Practitioners does not recommend using the United States version of Metacam because it is an off-label product and adverse reactions such as acute renal failure and deaths have been reported. The 0.5 mg/ml Metacam has been used safely in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Canada for many years with few reported reactions. Gastrointestinal side-effects are usually the only signs observed in some cats at doses of 0.01- 0.03 mg/kg daily for up to 6 months."
Meloxicam: Risky Enough for a Black Box Warning, But Safe Enough for Long Term Treatment? (Healthypets.Mercola.com)
Veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker looks at studies on the safety of Meloxicam use in cats and suggests alternatives to the drug.
Is Metacam Safe for Cats? (Veterinary.Answers.com)
Veterinary expert Dr. Carol Osborne discusses the off-label use of Metacam and alternative treatments.
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