What Is Buprenorphine For Cats?

Like Tweet Pin it Share Share Email

Buprenorphine is a drug used to relieve pain. It has been used for humans at the first place. Afterward, the animal experts and specialists decided to use Buprenorphine as a veterinary medicine on dogs, cats and other pets, for the same purpose.

But not all cat owners know that. That’s why many of them asked us “What is Buprenorphine for cats?” We will help you answer this question in this post!

What is Buprenorphine?

Buprenorphine is manufactured for human purposes such as relieving chronic pain, treating opioid addiction, etc. It can be used as an oral medication, injection, implant or skin patch. It is nearly 30 times more powerful than Morphine and can be used for certain purposes depending on the dosage. It is usually used in surgery, too.

Benefits and Uses in Veterinary Medicine

Buprenorphine is used under the name ‘Buprenex’ for both humans and animals. FDA does not give any information about this drug in the uses for animals, but the vets are allowed to use it for the same purposes. Buprenorphine is usually combined with Ketamine and other ingredients to anesthetize pets for surgery in shelters. When it comes to the brain’s ability to receive the pain message, all mammals are similar.

Cats are given in a very small dosage of Buprenorphine depending on their body weight, age and health. It can be given as an injection or orally. After entering the animal’s body, the drug will last for about 8 hours before another administration is required. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. So, before using human pain-relief medication for pets, we always need the vet’s approval.

How Do You Give Buprenorphine to Cats?

Two most common uses of Buprenorphine are:

  • Oral: The most common way to use Buprenorphine on postoperative cats is taking its pill orally. Buprenex is very useful for postoperative cats because it comes on very slowly and lasts for a long time. Moreover, if your cat is discharged by the vets after surgery but still needs a pain-relief medication, he may be given Buprenex orally in an appropriate dose. 
  • Injection: When your cat is too sick, injection is used to help the drug enter your cat’s bloodstream as fast as possible without losing its benefits. 

According to FDA, Buprenorphine is only used for humans, not animals. However, many specialists found out the same effects of this drug on animals. And they decided to use it as a veterinary medicine to help pets treat problems related to pain.

In veterinary medicine, Buprenorphine can be administered to canines and felines. They use it for tissue necrosis, ischemia, trauma resulting from wounds, joint injuries, tissue inflammation, due to infection or pathological disease, tissue spasms and fracture. The vets can prescribe this drug as an extra-label medication under the Animal Medication Drug Use Clarification Act.

Buprenorphine is used as pills, ointments, topical solutions and liquid solutions. It is absorbed more quickly when being taken orally or intravenously. But the vets will decide the formulation and the appropriate dosage for your cats.

Precautions and Potential Side Effects of Buprenorphine in Cats

This drug is 30 times stronger than Morphine. So, it’s easy to know that it has some side effects. In particular, some common side effects of Buprenorphine are:

  • Indigestion
  • Slower respiration
  • Stomach problem
  • Weakness sedation
  • Slowed breathing
  • Gastrointestinal disorders

If you had already used some drugs for your cat before, you must ask the vet if it’s fine to use Buprenorphine for your cat after.

Some ingredients in the previous drugs or supplements can interact with Buprenorphine in a negative way, leading to unconsciousness, coma or even death. In addition, pregnant cats, lactating cats, or those with Addison’s disease, kidney disease should not be treated with Buprenorphine.


FDA has not decided Buprenorphine to be used on animals, so there is no information about the dosage to use on animals.

DEFRA, on the other hand, did provide cat owners with an important information: 10-20 micrograms of Buprenorphine can be used on 1 kilogram of the cat. The exact amount of this drug used on your cats will be decided by the vets based on their body weight and general health. You should not decide a dose yourself.


However, opioid pain medications can be the potential for an overdose. Buprenorphine, unfortunately, has more risk than the others. Cats react differently depending on their general health, but breathing problem is one of the signs of an overdose.

In this case, you need to act as soon as possible. Tell the vet about your cat’s problem so that they can choose the best treatment. Otherwise, the further your cat has to endure that overdose, the lower chance of a full recovery he will have.


So, what is Buprenorphine for cats? Buprenorphine is a drug for relieving pain for humans, but then the vet expanded its use in veterinary medicine. It is a short-term painkiller and usually used to treat opioid addiction and chronic pain. It is also an effective drug in surgery.

However, using this drug without any animal specialist’s approval can cause serious risks to your pet, including coma or even death. Therefore, as a cat owner, you need to follow the vet’s instruction very carefully before and while using it on your feline friends. The dosage must be based on their body weight and general health.

Leave your comment below if you have any questions? Thank you for reading!

Comments (0)

Post a Comment

%d bloggers like this: