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Effect of Preappointment Gabapentin in Hyperthyroid Cats

Paul DeMars, DVM, DABVP, Oklahoma State University

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In the literature

Gurney M, Gower L. Randomised clinical trial evaluating the effect of a single preappointment dose of gabapentin on signs of stress in hyperthyroid cats. J Feline Med Surg. 2022;24(6):e85-e89. doi:10.1177/1098612X221091736


Diagnosis and management of hyperthyroidism in cats requires drawing blood, testing urine, measuring blood pressure, auscultating the heart, and/or performing ultrasonography on the heart or kidneys. Handling or restraining noncompliant cats can make completing these procedures difficult and may result in increased patient stress or anxiety.  

This study evaluated the effectiveness of gabapentin for reducing stress in hyperthyroid cats at the clinic. Cats (n = 47) were randomly placed into groups given either placebo or gabapentin; owners and veterinary nurses were unaware of treatment group assignments. On the first visit, cat owners were asked to provide baseline temperament and transport scores. For the second visit, owners administered either liquid gabapentin (20 mg/kg PO) or an identical placebo one hour before leaving the home. Two veterinary nurses assigned compliance scores after handling the patient, including for blood collection and blood pressure measurement via Doppler.

Groups had no significant difference in age, sex, body mass, baseline temperament, travel time, or baseline transport score. Transport and compliance scores following administration of gabapentin differed significantly between groups. 

Blood levels of gabapentin were measured in all but 2 cats in the gabapentin group and correlated with transport and compliance scores. These findings are similar to other published studies on the effects of gabapentin in owned and feral cats.1,2 

This study excluded cats with chronic renal disease and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which may be associated with hyperthyroidism. Additional studies are needed to evaluate the safety of gabapentin in these patients.  


Key pearls to put into practice:


Gabapentin (20 mg/kg PO) given to healthy and hyperthyroid cats one hour prior to arrival at the clinic may significantly reduce stress and increase compliance with handling and examination.



Hyperthyroid cats without significant systemic comorbidities appear to have good tolerance of premedication with gabapentin.


For global readers, a calculator to convert laboratory values, dosages, and other measurements to SI units can be found here.

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