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Ask the Veterinarian/Arthritis Treatment for Cat


Hello Jana:  I have a 17 year old cat that started having difficulty laying down -- he would lay down very slowly as if he was in pain.  The vet said this might be caused by arthritis in the lower back, and she administered a butorphanol (opioid) injection for the arthritis pain.

For over a day (after the injection), the cat was very knocked out and disoriented.  He could hardly walk, and he would stare at the wall with his mouth open.  It took 3 days for him to completely recover.

Do you know if butorphanol is used in veterinary medicine for arthritis?  (The vet said that she normally gives steroid injections for arthritis, but it wouldn't be good for my cat because he has kidney disease).  Thank you.

Hi Alicia,

Finally have my phone and internet back up! I am so sorry for the delay.
To answer your question yes, it is used for pain management.  But your cat having kidney disease is probably why he was so disoriented and knocked out for 3 days.

Most pain medications are filtered and excreted through the kidneys and with compromised kidneys this would be difficult for him to do, thus the drug was in his bloodstream longer than normal and caused this issue.

It's a hard thing to manage a senior cat with both arthritis pain and kidney problems.

You might want to ask your vet about using some alternative pain relievers such as turmeric powder in his food. I use it for my back pain but I don't have bad kidneys- so it's imperative that you contact your vet first.

I don't know what the dose of this spice would be for a cat either, so again, ask your vet.
It may be a valuable alternative for pain management for your cat.

If you do, and it works, please let me know as I have a 14 yr old with it. Another option you have is to take him to a veterinary chiropractor or acupuncturist. There are many vets who practice both or one or the other and you can probably google one near you.

I hope you can find him some relief. Cats are masters at hiding pain of any type and so they won't let you know that their backs hurt.

I know the veterinary world is looking for more ways to help cats with pain. It's a tough situation and so often senior cats, pain and kidney disease go hand in hand.

Ask your vet about the above solutions but also to keep you updated on any new findings they have on pain+cats+kidney disease.

I hope your old boy feels better soon.  

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Jana Connell RVT, CVT


PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!


I have over 42 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love. I also Teach Veterinary Technology to working technicians who are studying to take their California Tests to become Licensed Technicians. They have to take both the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Exam) and the California boards.

Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.


Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 1500 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

Awards and Honors
Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

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