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Is it safe for me to use human medicine on my cat?

Are there occasions where it is OK to give my cat human medications?

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    Refined learning... There's no canonical answer to the question of medicines and pets, they vary by species way too much. I've reopened this as a result. – John Cavan Apr 27 '14 at 15:51
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    This question astounds me. On every bottle of medicine, even over the counter medicine, it says to consult a doctor first. Why would you give medicine to anyone or anything without consulting a professional? This is just common sense. – Keltari Aug 6 '15 at 14:01
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    never ever give cats humane medicine there is no exeption to this, and please upvote yvettes answer it realy needs to be on top for the cats safety. – trond hansen May 10 '17 at 9:21
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Never give pets human medication unless advised by your local Veterinarian.

People may be tempted to try and save money, by bypassing a trip to the Vet or paying for expensive Veterinary medications and products. Unfortunately the cost of looking after our pets can be high, but to try and help our pets with well meaning shortcuts, by using human products and medications is not a viable solution.

Animals metabolise drugs differently from human beings and differently between species. What may be effective in a human being, may be harmful or potentially fatal for their cat.

Common Cat Poisons

Medications

Aspirin: ...
The signs of aspirin toxicity in cats are dose-dependant and may include anorexia, vomiting, gastric haemorrhage, anaemia and hyperthermia.

Paracetamol (also known as Acetaminophen):
Cats are extremely sensitive to paracetamol toxicity. ...

Ibuprofen: ...
The signs of ibuprofen toxicity in cats are vomiting, depression, anorexia and diarrhoea. ...

Other medications that should not be given to your cat as they can be potentially lethal, even in small doses, include:

Antidepressants – can cause vomiting and lethargy with certain types leading to serotonin syndrome.
ADHD medications – act as a stimulant and dangerously elevate heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature.
Anti-cancer drugs.
Anti-diabetics – cause a major drop in blood sugar levels causing disorientation, lack of coordination and seizures.
Cold medicines – acts as a stimulant causing elevated heart rates, blood pressure, body temperature and seizures.
Vitamin D derivatives – cause life-threatening spikes in blood calcium levels in pets that can lead to kidney failure. Diet pills.
Muscle relaxants – can impair the central nervous system and lead to death. (1)

As well as human medicines, some veterinary treatments, not tailored for cats can also be harmful for your cat.

the top five most common toxins that caused emergencies:

  • Topical spot-on insecticides
  • Household cleaners
  • Antidepressants
  • Poisonous plants
  • Human and veterinary NSAIDS

Topical spot-on insecticides

Concentrated topical flea and tick medications made for dogs contain pyrethrins or pyrethroids, which are highly toxic to cats. Poisoning in cats can occur when pet owners apply dog insecticides to their cats, or when cats lick the medications off dogs. Cats can suffer severe drooling, tremors and life-threatening seizures.


The only exception:

On the written advice of a Veterinarian:
For instance, you take your dog to the Veterinarian and the Vet gives you written instructions on the use of any over the counter medications with explicit dosage guides.


References:

  • Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) Victorian State Government Australia (1)

  • Pet Poison Helpline
    US, Canada, Carribean (2)

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    Made a small edit here for the US folks: Paracetamol = Acetaminophen. (It took me a while to realize this when I moved from Australia to the USA) – Kate Paulk Oct 16 '13 at 10:18
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Yes and No.

1) as user87 points out some human medications may be damaging to cats

2) even when it isn't the dosage is probably WAY too high (humans weight a lot more than cats, and cats don't have cytochromes in the guts like humans do (since humans have these medication dosages are WAY higher than they'd be otherwise)

Only give cats human medications if directed by a vet and only in the dosage and manner as prescribed by a vet.

That being said, cat isn't as lucrative as human healthcare- thus there is more research on human health problems and a lot of pet medicine (especially the drugs) is "borrowed" and retested to see if it works on animals. My "baby" cat takes medicine originally made for the human market (but disturbingly pulled because of heart complications with humans, though vets tell me that doesn't happen with cats- still I use it sparingly as a result).

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Ask your vet first, some pets' meds are exactly the same as human ones but overpriced, others are animal-specific and some human meds may kill your cat so, even though I'm repetitive, ask your vet first.

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{obligatory note that neither I nor you are a veterinarian}

As far as I know, Tramadol is the only pain killer that cats, dogs and humans can all take.

Don’t give human sustained release Tramadol to cats (or dogs).

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