Cat in pet carrier. FDA approves drug to reduce cat stress during vet trips.
(Photo Credit: dardespot | Getty Images)

FDA Approves Drug To Calm Cats During Vet Visits

If you’re a cat owner, you probably already know that visits to the vet can be an anxious time for both you and your pet. Fortunately, relief might just be in sight as the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has greenlit a medication aimed at reducing feline anxiety. Known as Bonqat, this newly-approved pill is designed to alleviate acute anxiety and fear that cats may experience during travel or vet visits, according to the FDA’s announcement.

The FDA added that cat owners should orally administer the drug roughly 1.5 hours prior to transport or a vet visit. They further specified that pet owners may administer it for two consecutive days.

Bonqat is comprised of pregabalin — a drug that is known to soothe hyperactive nerves. This makes Bonqat the first animal drug containing pregabalin to gain approval from the FDA.

VCA Animal Hospitals has reported that certain cats may suffer from severe anxiety and motion sickness during transport. This may be especially true when cats can sense they are traveling to places like the vet’s office. This anxiety can present in different forms, including excessive meowing, drooling, and lip-smacking. Some cats may even experience stress-induced motion sickness that could lead to involuntary urination and defecation. Administering certain medications before traveling to the vet might provide some relief.

Efficacy of Bonqat in real-world trials

The FDA granted approval to Bonqat following real-world trials conducted by its Finnish manufacturer, Orion Corp. The vets asked cat owners, whose pets had previously shown signs of fear and anxiety, to bring their pets for a checkup. During one of these checkups, they administered Bonqat to the felines.

“A little over half of cats given Bonqat had a good to excellent response during both transportation and the veterinary visit compared to about one-third of cats given placebo,” the FDA noted. Moreover, out of the 108 cats given Bonqat, 83 (or 77%) showed reduced anxiety and fear during two vet exams. This is much higher than the 46 out of 101 (or 46%) cats who received a placebo.

Cats on the drug exhibited a few temporary side effects including mild sedation, lethargy, and balance problems.

Due to the risk of misuse by individuals, Bonqat has received approval as a prescription-only drug. The FDA further advised pet owners to be careful when handling the medication. In particular, people should prevent contact with skin, eyes, and other mucus membranes while administering Bonqat.

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