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Published: Mar 27, 2024 8 min read

Gabapentin is an anti-seizure drug that's often prescribed to treat stress, chronic pain and other anxiety disorders in cats. This medication is very safe, with minimal risks and side effects. And pet insurance may cover it if your policy includes coverage for behavioral therapy.

Read on to learn more about gabapentin for cats, how it works and common side effects to watch out for.

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What is gabapentin?

Gabapentin (branded as Neurontin, Horizant and Gralise) is an anticonvulsant medication originally developed to treat epilepsy and nerve pain in humans. Gabapentin works by blocking calcium channels, inhibiting certain neurotransmitters in the brain. The result is reduced pain perception and anxiety. In veterinary medicine, gabapentin is often prescribed "off-label" to manage similar conditions in cats.

What is gabapentin used for in cats?

Gabapentin serves several purposes in feline veterinary medicine, including:

  • Pain medication: alleviates neuropathic pain, a type of pain that is caused by a dysfunction of the nervous system
  • Anxiety medication: reduces fear response before stressful events like veterinary visits or travel
  • Treatment for feline hyperesthesia syndrome: a condition marked by extreme and often painful sensitivity on the cat's skin

Cats can take a single dose of gabapentin as needed or take it as part of a long-term treatment plan. The medication also works well with other anti-anxiety drugs as long as pet owners follow the prescribed dosages.

How is gabapentin given to cats?

Gabapentin for cats is typically administered orally. The compounding pharmacy can prepare it in either capsule or liquid form. The best medium for your kitty will depend on what it's willing to tolerate.

You can hide the capsules in soft treats or open them and mix the powder into your cat's food. Cats are known to be picky eaters, so they may eat around the capsules or ignore the food if they find the taste unpleasant. In that scenario, the liquid formulation might be a better alternative.

Gabapentin in liquid form is generally administered orally with a syringe. Here's how to do it:

1. To administer the medication safely, you may need to place your cat on your lap and restrain them with a towel or blanket.

2. Let your cat lick the syringe and see if they're receptive to "licking" the medication.

3. If that isn't successful, gently hold their head and inject the medication in the gap between the fangs and premolar teeth.

4. Make sure to aim at the side of the cat's mouth. You want to deposit the medication in the cat's tongue, not force the liquid down their throat to protect them from inhaling liquid into their lungs.

Can gabapentin be mixed with cat food?

Yes, gabapentin can be mixed with cat food. Pet owners can open the capsules and mix the powder with a small amount of food or a tasty treat to mask its taste and make it more palatable for cats.

What is the recommended dosage of gabapentin for cats?

The recommended dose of gabapentin for cats varies depending on their weight, the severity of the condition being treated, and whether they're taking other medications concurrently.

A typical starting dosage ranges from five to 15 milligrams per kilogram of body weight, administered orally every eight to 12 hours. Your veterinarian may start your cat at a low dose, watch how they tolerate the medication and adjust the next dose accordingly.

Veterinarians also prescribe higher doses, ranging from 100 to 200 milligrams, to sedate a fear-aggressive or highly anxious cat before a trip to the animal hospital.

What are some common side effects of gabapentin in cats?

The most common side effects of gabapentin in cats include:

  • Mild sedation
  • Drowsiness
  • Incoordination (ataxia)
  • Dizziness
  • Increased appetite
  • Vomiting or diarrhea

Fortunately, these side effects are generally mild and will go away once your cat's body clears the drug. Your veterinarian may start your cat at a low dosage and increase it gradually to see how well they tolerate the medication.

What are some risks of gabapentin for cats?

While gabapentin is generally considered safe for cats when used as directed, there are some potential risks to be aware of when prescribing it.

The medication should be used with caution (or avoided entirely) if your cat is pregnant. Likewise, cats with liver or kidney disease may not metabolize the drug properly and experience stronger adverse side effects.

There's also the risk of withdrawal symptoms, so pet owners should discontinue the use of gabapentin gradually instead of stopping abruptly.

Can a cat overdose on gabapentin?

Cats can overdose on gabapentin, but it doesn't occur often and is rarely lethal. This medication has a high therapeutic range, which means that it takes a large amount for it to be dangerous.

Giving your cat more gabapentin than intended can cause intense side effects. High sedation or sleepiness isn't dangerous but can put your cat in unsafe situations.

For example, cats that experience motion sickness while traveling must be able to stand up and vomit, and extreme sedation can make that very difficult. They may also be prone to falls and unable to react to danger.

If your cat experiences strong side effects, keep them confined and under close supervision until the effects of the drug pass (typically eight to 12 hours).

Does gabapentin interact with other medications?

Gabapentin may interact with certain medications and supplements, including:

  • Antacids: These medications can reduce gabapentin's effect and should be administered at least two hours away from gabapentin.
  • Pain relief medications: Combining gabapentin with opioids like morphine or hydrocodone increases the risk of severe sedation and other adverse side effects.

How much does gabapentin cost for cats?

The cost of gabapentin depends on the dosage and where you buy it from. Online pet care retailers sell this medication, though you're more likely to buy it directly from your local vet clinic.

Cat insurance may cover 70% to 100% of the cost, but that will depend on the policy's terms and whether the insurer accepts off-label medications.

Gabapentin prescribed to treat anxiety and stress may be covered if the policy includes benefits for behavioral modification. If the medication is prescribed for pain management, you'll have to check whether the insurer reimburses the cost of non-FDA-approved medications.

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Dosage x capsules per bottle


Cost with pet insurance (90% reimbursement)

100 milligrams x 30



100 milligrams x 60

$7 to $11

$0.70 to $1

100 milligrams x 90

$10 to $25

$1 to $2

300 milligrams x 30 



300 milligrams x 60

$10 to $14


300 milligrams x 90

$14 to $30

$1 to $3

Summary of Gabapentin for Cats: Use and Dosage

Gabapentin is a safe treatment option for managing various conditions in dogs and cats. Cats can tolerate a wide range of doses with minimal side effects, which are rarely lethal.

Veterinarians often prescribe it to alleviate anxiety before a vet visit and post-surgery. It's also an effective analgesic for chronic pain and feline hyperesthesia syndrome.

That being said, it's important to use it under veterinary guidance to minimize side effects and ensure its efficacy, whether it's prescribed for short or long-term use.