What is Depo-Medrol for Cats?

Cat with Medication

Has your cat been diagnosed with arthritis or lameness associated with the localized or generalized arthritic condition? If so, your vet might prescribe Depo-Medrol for cats to manage the condition. Before buying this medication, you likely have questions lingering in your mind, including what is the active ingredient contained in Depo-Medrol for cats, and how does this medication work? Which medical conditions does it address? What if your cat doesn’t respond positively to the treatment? Are there any side effects that you should be worried about? Can it also work on dogs? And so on. Such questions are valid and warrant straightforward answers, which you will discover in this article.

What is Depo-Medrol for Cats?

According to Zoetisus, Depo-Medrol is a suspension in a sterile aqueous state that’s designed for cats and available in the brand name (methylprednisolone) and generic form. It is administered through injections into the cat’s flank or hindquarter, making it hassle-free for fussy or reluctant cats. Some medical experts believe it’s a corticosteroid meant to trigger a hormone found in the cat’s adrenal cortex, almost mimicking the action of acetaminophen in humans. It works by inhibiting the cat’s immune system and addressing inflammation anywhere in their bodies. This drug is suitable for kittens and cats with asthma and skin eruptions. However, acetaminophen medication is non-steroidal yet has anti-inflammatory properties.

The benefits of using Depo-Medrol for cats

Below is a list of medical conditions that Depo-Medrol for cats addresses:

1. Allergic conditions

Cats are susceptible to allergic conditions depending on their environment and anything they’re exposed to. They include bronchial asthma, pollen allergy, urticaria, dry eczema, and acute moist dermatitis. This medication might provide instant relief the first few hours after injection and may go for a few days to two months. A cat with these allergic conditions might experience an attack if the allergen is present. The vet should schedule a visit to determine if the treatment worked. If it didn’t, they would tailor an alternative treatment solution.

2. Musculoskeletal diseases

Depo-Medrol can address arthritic conditions that may lead to pain or lameness like other adrenal steroids. They include traumatic arthritis, periostitis, tendinitis, and other arthritic-related conditions.

3. Severe infections requiring antibacterial therapy

If your cat’s been diagnosed with severe infections like life-threatening pneumonia or pyometritis, Depo-Medrol might be the only life-saving solution. It’s because it inhibits the inflammatory reaction to prevent vascular rapture hence saving blood vessels. Sometimes, the clinical response of the cat to the drug goes a long way in complementing supportive therapy. Therefore, the corticosteroid therapy should be short-term and match the maintenance of the supportive therapy. The antibacterial treatment should also go on for at least three days after removing the hormone.

Dosage and administration of Depo-Medrol for cats

Generally, aggressive cats make it difficult to administer oral medications. Luckily, Depo-Medrol is administered through injections. The doses for this drug vary depending on the cat’s medical condition and other pre-existing conditions. Usually, they come in 10mg to 20mg. The vet might prescribe a weekly dose or tailor a different one depending on the severity of the condition and the clinical response. For example, if your cat’s condition is chronic or extremely severe, the vet might administer it more frequently than once a week. The same applies if they don’t respond to the treatment. Kitties with respiratory diseases like asthma might benefit from anti-inflammatory medications with powerful potency. They might receive injections every 4 to 6 weeks in such a case. Cats with stomatitis might benefit from shots every two or three months. Felines with allergies due to flea infestation might need the shots every two months. The shots address autoimmune diseases, special types of traumas, and inflammatory bowel disease. If you’re unable to take your cat to the vet for the injection, they might give you strict instructions related to its administration, which you must heed. Avoid doctoring your pet’s dosage. Cats require only 5.5 mg/kg through the intramuscular or subcutaneous layer between seven days and six months.

Precautions and Contraindications

According to Zoetisus, Depo-Medrol works by suppressing body action and tissue changes related to inflammation. This results in decreased permeability of vascular tissues, causing cells associated with inflammation to flee. As with any medication, there are always two sides to the story. While this drug effectively alters the reaction of the inflammation, suppressing it might predispose the immune system to infections. Eventually, the body becomes vulnerable to microorganisms. Consequently, cats on this drug should be monitored carefully to determine if they’ve developed an opportunistic infection. If, by any chance, the cat develops an infection while on this drug, the vet should tailor effective antibacterial treatment solutions. They might also stop this medication if the adverse reactions persist. Scientific researchers have discovered that this drug doesn’t retain sodium or deplete potassium. However, it is still too early to declare your cat safe from interactions this drug might cause. If they display signs of hypokalemia, the therapy should halt, and an intravenous drip should be introduced.

Side effects of short-term use

If your cat receives the shot for the first time, expect them to be overly thirsty because the medication’s mechanism is responsible for that. Drinking more water helps expel the toxins from the cat’s system, making them prone to frequent urination. Another side effect to watch out for is an increased appetite, leading to sudden weight gain. You may notice that their stomach is bulging, almost as if they have taken a beer. The weight gain might make your cat lazy, hence likely to become lethargic. These side effects are normal and will wear out after the cat recuperates. However, be extra vigilant if your cat vomits, has diarrhea, or loses muscle control. Some studies suggest that kittens below six months who have taken this medication might have slowed growth.

Long-term use

While medical conditions like arthritis have no cure, it would be best to moderate such medications because they can lead to ulcers in the digestive system or Cushing’s disease due to long-term use. By all means, avoid giving this medication to pregnant cats. Cats diagnosed with conditions like pancreatitis or hypothyroidism should be given this condition after confirmation from the vet. Also, if your cat is on vitamins or any other drug, inform your vet first. Whether your cat is on short-term or long-term dosage, inform the vet if they display unusual behavior.

Is Depo-Medrol for cats safe?

Yes. It is FDA-approved under NADA. However, it’s best administered as a prescription, not over-the-counter. Before administering the shot, your vet should examine your cat for any underlying or pre-existing conditions. Cats with conditions like kidney disease, pancreatitis, or hypothyroidism need a vet’s approval before getting this treatment.

Can my cat develop Cushing’s disease during or after Depo-Medrol treatment?

Maybe. It depends on many factors. For instance, if you administer powerful doses of glucocorticoids long-term, you’re putting your pet at the risk of an iatrogenic condition. This makes them susceptible to Cushing’s disease. You will know your cat has this condition if their thirst, hunger, and urination surpass the normal limit. Increased urination puts your cat at the risk of Urinary Tract Infections (UTI), “beer-bellied” appearance, skin or ear infections, thinned skin, and fur loss. Surprisingly, even the healthiest of cats aren’t immune to Cushing’s disease when under this treatment. The only way to minimize their risk for this disease is weaning down over time. Alternatively, your vet might combine the Depo-Medrol with other drugs.

How can I shield my cat from Cushing’s disease susceptibility?

The fundamental rule of administering corticosteroids to cats is following the simple guidelines on the package or listening to the vet’s advice. Other ways to prevent these side effects include:

1. Staying away from daily use of glucocorticoids

Your cat doesn’t need daily use of glucocorticoids unless your vet has diagnosed them with a critical immune-mediated disease. Most likely, a vet prescribes daily use during the first-time treatment. Another reason to administer it daily is if your cat develops itchiness or has musculoskeletal pain. In that case, discuss the possible alternative treatment combination with your vet to reduce these symptoms.

2. Take your cat for follow-up visits to the vet.

Your vet needs to know how your cat responds, particularly if they’ve been on the treatment for three to four months. According to VCA Hospitals, vets schedule follow-up visits to re-evaluate the cat’s clinical response to the drug and decide if other treatment solutions are applicable.

3. Schedule routine 6-month visits

If your cat has a chronic or severe condition warranting long-term use of steroids, scheduling 6-month visits will benefit you. During these visits, the lab team will examine urine cultures and blood tests to see if there are traces of Depo-Medrol toxicity in their system.

Can I buy Depo-Medrol over-the-counter without my vet’s approval?

No. Avoid modifying such treatments without your vet’s approval because your cat could have a condition that may predispose them to adverse reactions. Your vet is better positioned to diagnose your cat for any underlying or pre-existing condition before prescribing the recommended dose.

What next if my cat doesn’t respond to Depo-Medrol?

While Depo-Medrol is an effective drug for managing a wide range of medical conditions in cats, not all cats can benefit from its administration. Call your vet immediately if your cat doesn’t show signs of clinical improvement within the first five days of treatment. They will find an alternative treatment for your cat to help it stay alive.

Are doses for cats similar to dogs’?

No. Depo-Medrol is designed for cats and dogs, but the dosages are different. According to Medicines.org, cats require only 5.5 mg/kg.

Does my pregnant cat stand a chance to get this treatment?

No. Studies suggest that corticosteroids, Depo-Medrol included, can inhibit fertility in animals. If you happen to give this medication to your pregnant cat, it might lose its pregnancy or life. Corticosteroids can easily pass through the placenta, which might lead to low birth weights in infant kittens. It can also cause abnormalities in fetal development like intrauterine growth retardation, brain growth and development issues, and cleft palate. So, if your cat is pregnant and is suffering from medical conditions that Depo-Medrol addresses, discuss with your vet first. The vet will prescribe a safe alternative drug to keep your cat’s fetus from developing abnormalities before birth.


Overall, Depo-Medrol has proven effective on cats, dogs, and horses. It all depends on their clinical response to the treatment. A vet also needs to know your cat’s susceptibility to Cushing’s disease to determine if the treatment should go on or stop. Finally, before administering this drug, ask your vet to illustrate how it’s done because some sites are anatomically inaccessible and hence not suitable for injections. Contact your vet for professional advice if treatment failure happens in areas with synovial spaces.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.