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Metacam: This Popular Pain Management Drug Causes Kidney Failure in Cats

pain medication for catsMetacam, also known as meloxicam, is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used primarily in veterinary medicine to control postoperative pain and inflammation associated with orthopedic surgeries, spays, and neuters. It is in liquid form, administered either by injection or orally.

The drug in both forms is FDA-approved for dogs – the oral form is more often used to treat the symptoms of osteoarthritis in canines.

The injectable form of the drug was approved for one-time use only in cats to manage postoperative pain. The oral form was not approved for use in cats at all.

However, it is legal in certain situations for veterinarians to use medications in an 'extra label' or 'off-label' manner, which is  the case with Metacam and cats.

The drug's manufacturer, Boehringer Ingleheim Vetmedica Inc. (BIVI), at the request of the FDA, has added a boxed warning to the labels on both forms of the product:


Repeated use of meloxicam in cats has been associated with acute renal failure and death. Do not administer additional injectable or oral meloxicam to cats. See Contraindications, Warnings, and Precautions for detailed information.

The request was made of BIVI after the FDA reviewed reported adverse reactions for the products, specifically many cases of kidney failure and death in cats with repeated use the drug.