Metacam (meloxicam) is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). NSAIDs most frequently are used to treat pain and inflammation associated with surgery or arthritis. NSAIDs also may be used to treat many other forms of acute and chronic pain.
Metacam is one of many different NSAIDs used in veterinary medicine. Other commonly used NSAIDs include Rimadyl (carprofen), aspirin, Deramaxx, and Previcox.
All NSAIDs work in essentially the same way. And all NSAIDs have the potential to cause the same side effects. The most common side effect of NSAIDs is upset stomach. However, NSAIDs also have been linked to potentially fatal problems including kidney failure, liver failure, and severe gastrointestinal problems (perforating ulcers).
Cats are especially sensitive to and intolerant of NSAIDs. I therefore was hopeful but simultaneously skeptical several years ago when I heard reports that some practitioners were prescribing Metacam to cats for long-term use. I had hoped that it would be safe for the cats involved, but I had a nagging fear that it wouldn’t be.
It turns out that long-term use of Metacam is not safe in cats. In fact, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. (the producer of Metacam in the USA) recently sent me a letter stating that Metacam should not be used more than once in a cat.
The company will be adding a new warning to its Metacam product inserts. Here it is:
Warning: Repeated use of meloxicam in cats has been associated with acute renal failure and death. Do not administer additional doses of injectable or oral meloxicam to cats.
If your cat currently takes Metacam, I recommend that you contact your veterinarian about this matter immediately.