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K-State veterinarian collaborates on international pain relief medication guidelines for cats

Thursday, April 18, 2024



MANHATTAN — A Kansas State University veterinarian is part of a new effort to make life less wild — and less painful — for feline patients.

Meet Kate KuKanich, a small animal internal medicine expert in the College of Veterinary Medicine. She and a group of seven other feline pain-relief experts have just published new guidelines regarding the usage of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, to manage pain in cats.

"Cats are a beloved part of so many of our families, and we all want our feline friends to have the very best quality of life, including optimal pain management when needed," KuKanich said. "As our cats age, they are encountering more conditions, such as arthritis, dental disease and some cancers, where chronic pain management may be needed."

NSAIDs are the most widely used analgesics — pain medications — in veterinary medicine. Two separate organizations, the American Association of Feline Practitioners, or AAFP, and the International Society of Feline Medicine, or ISFM, joined efforts to produce updated guidelines. Together, they published the "2024 ISFM and AAFP Consensus Guidelines on the Long-term Use of NSAIDs in Cats" in the April 2024 issue of the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.

These guidelines present veterinary practitioners with decision-making tools for prescribing NSAIDs in situations of chronic pain to minimize adverse effects and optimize pain management for their feline patients. KuKanich was invited to collaborate on the project because of research work she helped conduct at K-State related to meloxicam — an NSAID medication — and its usage in treating chronic kidney disease in cats.

"With this publication, we provide practical guidelines for veterinarians compiled from the currently available literature and research, some of which we conducted here at Kansas State University," KuKanich said. "Veterinarians can use these guidelines when they prescribe NSAIDs to their feline patients, specifically addressing questions about concurrent diseases such as arthritis and chronic kidney disease, as well as medication interactions and monitoring strategies."

According to Sam Taylor, head of veterinary specialists at the ISFM, the first NSAID guidelines were published in 2010.

"Since then, multiple studies have examined the use of NSAIDs in cats, particularly those with comorbidities. These guidelines have examined this evidence and aim to provide practitioners with practical information on using NSAIDs for chronic pain management, along with tips and advice on working with caregivers to provide the best care for their cat."

In addition to the guidelines for veterinarians, the ISFM has created guides for cat caregivers to provide easily accessible information about important topics such as treating pain with NSAIDs, home modifications to help cats with arthritis and increasing water intake for cats, which is helpful for many cats, including those taking NSAIDs or those with chronic kidney disease. The AAFP also has a client brochure for treating chronic pain with NSAIDs in cats.

"I'm honored to have had the privilege to work with this wonderful group of international feline pain and welfare experts to create these guidelines, in conjunction with both the ISFM and AAFP," KuKanich said. "We hope this work will be beneficial in helping veterinarians everywhere to keep cats purring and happy with their families long-term."

The guidelines provide valuable resources for veterinarians and cover essential information, including:

• NSAID mechanisms of action.
• Indications for the long-term use of NSAIDs in cats.
• Assessment of patient suitability and screening prior to the prescription of
• Considerations for NSAID use in the presence of comorbidities.
• Treatment efficacy monitoring.
• Management of adverse effects and avoidance.
• Considerations for anesthesia and surgery in cats receiving long-term NSAID
• Cat-friendly techniques to reduce chronic pain in the clinic and at home.

Media contact

Division of Communications and Marketing


College of Veterinary Medicine


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Kate KuKanich

Kate KuKanich, a small animal internal medicine expert in K-State's College of Veterinary Medicine, has collaborated with national and international feline health organizations to publish new guidelines about the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, for feline pain relief.

Written by

Joe Montgomery