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Pet Care. Pet Training. Pet Stories.

Side Effects of Buprenorphine in Cats

12/17/2019 by Cuteness Team
December 17th, 2019 by Cuteness Team

Key Takeaways

  • Buprenorphine is used to relieve pain in cats.
  • It is a narcotic medication that goes by the names Buprenex, Carpuject, and Simbadol.
  • There is a low risk of side effects with buprenorphine, but the most common one is sedation.
  • You can use buprenorphine as an injectable medication, a liquid, or an oral spray.
  • Discuss buprenorphine with a vet to determine if it is right for your cat.

Your four-legged friends might not be able to complain about a headache, but you can definitely help them. After you learn how to tell if your cat is in pain and what to give your cat for pain relief, you can learn more about specific medications like buprenorphine.

Buprenorphine is a medication used for pain relief in cats and can be very helpful, but make sure to ask your veterinarian for advice.

Just because your cat can’t yell “ow!” doesn’t mean she doesn’t feel pain.

Veterinarians have a wide variety of pain relievers to call into service if your cat’s feeling any pain especially after surgery or dental procedures. Buprenorphine is a synthetic opiate and an effective option with relatively few side effects.

Buprenorphine Is a Narcotic

Buprenorphine may be familiar to you by its traditional brand names: Buprenex, Carpuject or Simbadol. The National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment (NAABT) describes this medication as a fast-acting narcotic, usually kicking in within 15 to 30 minutes after dosing and lasting around eight hours. Because it’s a narcotic and vulnerable to misuse and abuse, buprenorphine is controlled by the Drug Enforcement Agency and available only by a veterinary prescription for your cat. Despite the fact it is approximately 30 times stronger than morphine, it isn’t as strong a pain reliever as morphine, best used for mild to moderate levels of pain.

Buprenorphine is one of the most commonly used pain medications because of its low risk of side effects.

Side Effects

One of the reasons vets rely on buprenorphine as a pain medication for cats is because it has low risk of side effects when it’s administered properly. The most common side effect of the drug is sedation, although a decrease in blood pressure and heart rate is also possible.

Despite the few potential side effects, there are cautions to using the drug. Veterinary Partner advises that cats with kidney disease should not use the drug, and it should be used with caution if the cat has liver disease since the liver is responsible for removing buprenorphine from the body. Other conditions that preclude its use include heart failure, head trauma, respiratory damage or pregnancy and lactation.

Ask your vet about what method is best to administer medication to your cat.

Cat at vet.

Administering Buprenorphine

One of the other benefits to this pain reliever is its ease of administering it to your cat. The NAABT describes the different methods of using it: your vet may use buprenorphine as an injectable, however if prescribed for home use, you’ll likely administer it as a liquid or oral spray. The oral spray is helpful because your cat doesn’t actually have to swallow the liquid; buprenorphine is absorbed into her body directly from her mouth membranes, referred to as transmucosal administration. The dosage impacts how often the medication is administered; the larger the dose, the longer its effects last.

Ask your vet if burprenorphine will interact with any of your cat’s other medications.

Cautions and Contraindications

Make sure you and your vet are on the same page about what medication your cat is already taking because buprenorphine can have negative interactions with other medication. Anti-fungals and other medications, such as the antibiotic erythromycin can cause increased levels of buprenorphine in the bloodstream. It should be stored at room temperature, in a cabinet or other place shielding it from light exposure.

Want to know more about cat medicine? Check out How To Give A Cat Medicine, What Human Medications Can I Give My Cat?, and What to Give a Cat in Pain at!

This article is provided by Cuteness—the go to destination for passionate pet parents. Cuteness has answers to all of your health, training, and behavior questions – as well as the cutest, funniest, and most inspiring pet stories from all over the world.