What guidelines does the veterinary industry follow to determine if medications are safe and effective for treating cats?

Great question. Most of the prescription-based veterinary drugs we prescribe here at Highland Park are thoroughly studied by FDA standards. Most of the drugs here go through many clinical trials, and if we deem those medications safe and effective, which is what that FDA approval shows, we will use those medications as they're labeled to help prevent some of the illnesses they're meant for.

Dr. Daniel Anthony
Highland Park Animal Hospital

Are prescriptions generally more effective than over-the-counter medications?

Great question. Most of the time, yes, because we're doing physical exams and diagnostics to try to figure out what's going on with your cat and therefore find the best effective treatment for your feline friend. Over-the-counter medications don't go through those rigorous studies per se when it comes to that specific disease process, most of the time. Therefore, the medications we prescribe for your pet and that specific condition are usually better, more effective, and safer than some over-the-counter medications.

Can my cat get what they need from diet alone?

This is a great and tricky question. Yes, diet plays a huge role in our cat's health. So if you're not feeding a proper diet, we may see more illnesses in your cat during our physical exam and diagnostics. We do have a lot of prescription-based diets. So to answer your question, they can get everything they need from some diets. One of the more common things we treat here is chronic kidney disease in cats, and one of the main treatments is a kidney-based diet. That is one example where diet alone may or may not be a better option. However, there may be better things than just diet for your cat's specific condition. It depends on what it is and what we're trying to treat.

What are the different types of cat medications used to treat?

We use many different classes to treat cats with different types of specific disease processes. The big ones are antibiotics for skin infections, ear infections, eye infections, and intestinal infections. Antibiotics are used for many things that we commonly prescribe here. Other drugs include anti-inflammatories, whether non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or steroids themself. Both have different uses in different places in our feline friends, so we'll help guide you to choose those drugs for you based on what your cat needs. Other drugs include parasitic drugs, whether that's intestinal parasites, dewormers, monthly preventions, topical flea products, topical heartworm products, and many drugs of that component. Cats also are a little bit more prone to some viral diseases. We have lots of antiviral drugs, such as anti-herpes medication, to help if your cat may or may not experience the herpes virus, which is very common among our feline friends. We see it all the time. There are other drugs that we commonly use in the hospital setting, whether that's anti-nausea or anti-vomiting drugs. Those are all just a small subset of a large sundry of medications that we have in store in case we need it if your feline friend comes in not feeling too well.

What are antiemetics used for?

Antiemetics are just another word for anti-nausea medications. We use antiemetics for surgery, pre- or post-op surgery, and we use them for vomiting cases, depending on why your cat is vomiting. We have several different options, depending on why your feline friend is vomiting, and we choose the best drug based on the situation.

What types of conditions do antifungals treat?

Many of our antifungal drugs treat ringworm, which is a very common one, probably the ones we see most often, to some more extreme fungal conditions. We have something called histoplasmosis here in Texas that can cause severe GI or gastrointestinal disease and may require an antifungal drug. There are some skin diseases and infections that we see here in Texas that may need antifungal drugs.

What are some common pain relievers?

This is where I break it down into classes of drugs. We have non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications; pain relievers for post-surgery, which is a very common time we use these anti-inflammatories. We may be talking about arthritic medication. We have an injectable arthritis medication that just recently got to our shelves that we're excited to start using. Other pain medications may help with neurologic conditions, and steroid medications can help with others. So there are lots to choose from. It really depends on what's going on and how we can best address that pain or discomfort.

What do you use to treat hairball relief?

There are a couple of options, including diet and nutritional options, and additional supplements, such as petroleum-based gel products, which are veterinary-approved. We have one here that's tuna flavored and very popular to help lubricate the GI tract and help them expel and get rid of those hairballs.

What would you use steroids for?

Big categories. Steroids are a form of anti-inflammatories. One specific condition we use steroids for in many cats is inflammatory bowel disease. That's usually the case when we're using steroids for longer periods. So that's one specific condition that comes to mind where we commonly use steroids in our cats.

Do you have any tips on how to give my cat their medicine?

This is a tricky one. We have several options, but it depends on what's best for you and your cat. We have pill form, which can be the most difficult for some people. Cats are really good at throwing that pill out, popping it out with their tongue, or hiding it in their mouth. I get it, and that's why a lot of our feline-approved drugs have different formulations. Liquids are really popular. Being able to give that liquid in the back of the mouth can sometimes help to provide that proper medication, and we'll show you how to do that if we are ever sending home a liquid medication. Other formulations include transdermal or through the skin. Several of our mainstay feline drugs are actually given intradermally, whether that's the monthly flea and heartworm product or, for instance, for thyroid disease. We have a hyperthyroidism medication that we give on the tip of the ear, along with an appetite stimulant. There are lots of different formulations that can help. In addition, we have injectable products that we, as veterinarians, can give and some that you guys can give too, but those are specific cases. I'm trying to say that we have many options to help you give your feline friend the medication they need. In addition, we have a compounding pharmacy that we work with all the time, and they can help us formulate that drug into whatever component we need to give to your cat, even flavor it a special flavor too.

How do you get a cat to take a pill?

The tricky thing about giving a cat a pill is that you usually have to hide it in something, and cats are really good about detecting if it's hidden. For some cats, it doesn't matter, and they'll eat it. We even have some medications in our own personal pharmacy that are flavored and in pill form that are easy to chew. So there are lots of options that we have for you guys.

Why is it important to avoid self-diagnosing my cat's need for pain medication?

In cats, it's really difficult to detect where the pain is coming from and what the pain is. They often have internal conditions we need to pick up on diagnostics or physical exams. It can be really dangerous if you self-diagnose your cat thinking it's one thing and it may be completely different. Giving your cat a specific medication that’s not meant for them can potentially make things worse.

Why is early detection so crucial for getting a good result from cat medications?

We see a lot of chronic conditions in cats, especially in our adult and senior cats. Whether it's things that you pick up at home or when we pick up on physical exams or diagnostics, it is super important that we try to catch this early before we have a cumulative effect or tumble effect later down the road. Once they start having chronic inflammatory conditions, they require more medications, therapeutics, and diagnostics. So it's really important to catch it early to help prevent things from getting worse down the road.

Why should I purchase cat medications from my veterinarian instead of through an online pharmacy?

Great question. Most of the time, it's the ease of access. We have most of the medications that we prescribe here unless it's a special medication that we have to order, and that's something we do all the time and can help you with, but most of the time, your cat needs that medication now, and that's why we must have a stocked pharmacy so that when you go home, you have the medications you need at that exact moment. That's why it's really important to have that access.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (214) 833-9821, or you can email us at info@hpanimalhospital.com. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media https://www.facebook.com/HighlandParkAnimalHospital, https://www.instagram.com/hpanimalhospital/