My cat is high, but he doesn't seem to enjoy it.
January 7, 2009 4:12 PM   Subscribe

Yet another cat health/vet visit related question.

Our 5 (nearly 6) year old male cat went to the vet dentist yesterday for oral surgery. He had a few teeth removed due to FORL, including a canine. She gave us 5 days' worth of buprenex for him. The label says to administer "as needed for pain." He got his dose last night and this morning, but today when I came home, he was very very alert, hungry, and craving attention. He's sitting with me now, purring like a motorboat and behaving normally.

I'm *pretty sure* he's not in a ton of pain right now, otherwise I think he would not be so cuddly. However, I'm concerned that right now he's not in pain and is more alert because the meds are wearing off, rather than that he's miraculously without pain, and that he will be hurting a lot later. I know cats can hide pain very, very well. However, right now he seems happy, and I'm loathe to knock him out, especially since he eats better when he's not drugged up, and he hasn't had a lot in the last couple days. I suppose I'm looking for anec-data about others' feline extraction experiences, and any information on administration of pain meds to cats in this situation. I want him to feel good, but I don't think that he feels "good" (other than pain-free) when he's on the meds, as it makes him seem paranoid.
posted by Medieval Maven to Pets & Animals (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If he's behaving normally (for him) - wants to eat, does eat, pees and poops in the right place, interacts with you in ways that he usually does then, I'd vote for holding off on pain meds for now. Keep a close eye on his behavior, and if it gets weird, give him pain meds. Is it liquid, or a pill? Try half a dose instead, if it seems like he needs it.
posted by rtha at 4:16 PM on January 7, 2009 [3 favorites]

My cat recently went in for bladder surgery, and came home with bupronex. While I agree that cats are good at hiding pain, you can tell when they are really not happy and need the pain meds. My boy looked very sorry for himself, rather than alert. I didn't just give him the painkillers on a regular schedule, I gave them when he looked sorry for himself. I would say that if he is being needier than usual he may be in some pain (this is how my guy was before we took him to the vet in the first place), but its up to you to decide if any pain = give painkillers. Personally I erred on the side of caution, and decided that it was probably better to make sure he was eating/drinking/pooping/peeing properly because he wasn't drugged up to the eyeballs, and instead give him lots of cuddles and attention. Or perhaps I'm a giant meanie and my cat had an awful 5 days without regular doses of painkillers.
posted by Joh at 4:31 PM on January 7, 2009

If it's oral surgery the big things to look out for are how he eats and how he acts when you touch him especially around the face. When my sister's cat was having mouth pain, she'd lick her lips a lot and wouldn't let you touch her face and wouldn't eat anything that she had to chew. If he's eating and not yowling he's likely healing well and not in too much pain.
posted by jessamyn at 4:31 PM on January 7, 2009

Response by poster: He's doing the "terrorist fist jab" (ie, rubbing his face along our hands), but as for chewable food, he's not allowed anything other than wet food until Sunday, so no way to tell.
posted by Medieval Maven at 4:43 PM on January 7, 2009

O hai! My kitty sends her regards, as she went through the exact same song-and-dance in November. Resorptive lesions are nasty things.

We, too, were sent home with a bunch of bup. We used six of the nine doses, and those last two just in case though she seemed fine. The medication made her pacey and hyper at first, but she tolerated subsequent doses better. She was off meds after just a couple days.

If I were you, I might dose him right before bed so he's not in unexpected pain while you're asleep. Otherwise? Keep an eye out for irregularities in food intake and bathroom habits.

My Laila recovered incredibly well from her surgery, much more quickly than we expected. She was back to her normal self (purring and playing) almost immediately, and she's actually been more active since the teeth were removed—perhaps because she's no longer in constant pain from the lesions. We wish your fuzzy friend an equally effortless recuperation.
posted by kwaller at 4:44 PM on January 7, 2009

My own cat Zach got codine for pain after his own tooth extraction, "if he needed it." I put him down when I got home and decided to feed him and then watch him eat, and if it looked like he had trouble eating, then I'd try to pill him.

I put the dish down for him, and then turned around to get the codine out of my bag -- it couldn't have been more than 40 seconds -- and when I turned back around to watch Zach, his bowl was empty and he was sitting next to it, contentedly and happily licking his chops. He actually had a little more trouble with the antibiotic they gave me than the pain (the first antibiotic gave him an upset stomach, and he had to be switched to another one).

It's only anecdotal evidence, true, but it's at least once case of a cat not having pain that gave him much trouble.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:58 PM on January 7, 2009

Best answer: Give the meds for the next five days, no matter how he behaves. Cats especially are excellent at hiding pain (it's a survival trait), and there is no reason NOT to give the meds unless he is actually not eating.
posted by biscotti at 9:16 PM on January 7, 2009

Best answer: Buprenorphine (Buprenex) is going to be your cat's friend over the next few days. The pain from dental extractions can take a day or two to reach a peak - he will have pain if he's had a canine extracted, especially if it was a lower one.

Give the drug as directed by your vet, but watch for your cat for signs of unsual agitation or confusion. Opiods can sometimes have this effect in cats. If this happens (you mentioned "paranoid") speak to your vet may decide to control the pain with different analgesia or an anti-inflamatory drug instead.

A regular dosing schedule is better than giving it ad hoc, when you "think" he might need it. Breakthrough pain is easier to get back under control if the cat is on a regular dose than if you are dosing sporadically.

Cats are good at hiding pain. Purring can be a sign of pain as can cuddling up and seeking contact with you. If he stops eating or starts pawing incessantly at his mouth speak to your vet.

Best fo luck for his swift recovery!
posted by Arqa at 1:12 AM on January 8, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks guys. I ended up letting him decide to "go to bed" at about 8:30pm and then I gave him the meds. He didn't behave quite like he did yesterday after his meds, so I'm less concerned about the "paranoia" aspect of it today. I will keep my eye on him, though; clearly we don't want him to have a bad trip, as it were. His appetite is increasing (two breakfasts today!) so I'm happy about that and just generally feeling less terror over the whole major feline face surgery thing.
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:57 AM on January 8, 2009

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