If you’re in one of the 46 million cat-owning households in America, you already know how stressful a trip to the vet can be for your feline – and for you.
Help may be on the way: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved a new drug to help calm cats’ anxiety.
The pill is called Bonqat and is designed “to relieve acute anxiety and fear associated with transportation and veterinary visits in cats,” the FDA said in a press release announcing the approval.
“The medication is administered orally approximately 1.5 hours before the start of transport or veterinary visit and can be administered for two consecutive days,” the agency adds.
Bonqat contains pregabalin, a medicine that calms overactive nerves. Bonqat is the first FDA-approved drug to contain pregabalin.
According to information from VCA Veterinary Hospitals, some cats may develop severe anxiety and motion sickness when transported to the veterinarian’s office (or anywhere). Symptoms can range from lots of meowing, lip-smacking, and drooling, to stress-induced motion sickness that can trigger urination and defecation in anxious cats.
Medications given before a vet visit can help.
The FDA’s approval of Bonqat was based on real-world trials conducted by the drug’s Finnish maker, Orion Corp. People whose cats had a history of fear and anxiety during veterinary visits were asked to bring their felines to a veterinarian for a physical exam.
On one of the trips, Bonqat was given to the cat before the visit.
“A little more than half of the cats given Bonqat had a good to excellent response during transport and veterinary visit, compared with about one-third of the cats given a placebo,” the FDA said. “Additionally, 83 of 108 (77%) cats given Bonqat showed improvement in fear and anxiety levels during both physical examinations, compared to 46 of 101 (46%) cats given placebo.”
Some temporary side effects of the drug – mild sedation, lethargy and balance problems – have been noted.
Because Bonqat has the potential to be diverted for misuse by people, it is approved as a prescription-only drug, the FDA said.
Pet owners should also use caution when handling the drug, “including avoiding contact with a person’s skin, eyes, and other mucous membranes,” the agency said.
Learn more about anxiety in cats at the ASPCA.
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