Should You Be Giving Famciclovir to Cats?

Conscientious pet owners keep a vigilant eye on the health of their cats. Just as humans must take responsibility for our health and well-being, it is also our job to make sure that the veterinarian is making the best possible choices for the health of our pets. If your cat shows symptoms of an upper respiratory infection, it’s wise to take him to the vet for an examination. FHV is a common illness that is caused by feline herpesvirus 1. it is also called feline influenza and it can result in pneumonia and death. The most prescribed treatment for this condition is a drug called Famciclovir, but should you be giving this medication to your cat? Our research on the subject has yielded some useful information for cat owners to consider when the vet recommends this treatment.

What is Famciclovir?

VCA describes Famciclovir as an anti-viral medication under the brand name Famvir. This drug is classified as an “extra-label” or off-label” medication. This is not uncommon when it comes to veterinary medicine. It is vital to follow the instructions of the prescribing veterinarian to ensure that the proper dosages and precautions are observed. According to Wedgewood Pharmacy, Famciclovir is used in the treatment of upper respiratory conditions in cats. It has been deemed appropriate for the treatment of these conditions, however, there are some facts about Famciclovir that you should be aware of.

Is Famciclovir safe?

Famciclovir has not received approval from the Federal Drug Administration for use in cats and other animals. This is a drug that is not manufactured by veterinary pharmaceutical companies. It is a drug that is created by a compounding pharmacy. The antibiotic is not a mainstream veterinary treatment, but it is still prescribed for the treatment of FHR in felines. This means that the absolute safety of Famciclovir has not yet been verified. Since this is a relatively new medication, there hasn’t been a lot of research into its effectiveness or its safety. There has not been enough time since its inception for longitudinal studies, but there have been a few investigations into the effects that the drug has on cats. Wedgewood Pharmacy has revealed that there were two studies conducted to assess the safety of this drug in cats. Both of the recent studies showed that cats do tolerate the medication well. If we base our answer to the question of Famciclovir’s safety rating on these investigations, we can assume that this is a drug that so far has been well-tolerated by cats, but more research needs to happen over time.

Does Famciclovir have side effects?

VCA lists the most common side effects of famciclovir. These include increased urination and a decrease in appetite. You may not give this treatment to cats that are sensitive to penciclovoir. Caution is required when giving this medicine to nursing or pregnant cats or those with kidney disease. Wedgewood adds other possible side effects that include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or a low-grade fever. The medication comes in tablet form. Giving it with food may reduce the incidences of side effects. Report all side effects you notice to the vet immediately. He or she may recommend discontinuation of the drug if unusual or extreme side effects occur, but these have not yet emerged in association with Famciclovir.

How fast does it work?

Famciclovir can take up to two weeks before you notice the full benefits. Your cat should gradually improve after being on the medication for a few days. Famciclovir is a short-acting drug that usually quits working within 24 hours after the last dose is administered unless your cat has kidney issues. This is a benefit if your cat has an adverse reaction to the medication. It is possible to achieve recovery from the illness within two weeks of the start of treatment. Some severe cases may require even longer treatment periods. When Famciclovir is used for an extended time, your vet may recommend occasional blood tests to monitor your cat’s health during the treatment duration.

How can you get a cat to take the drug if he has no appetite?

It is important to continue the treatment for the full duration of the prescription, but since Famciclovir may cause a loss of appetite, your cat may not eat his food and it can be nearly impossible to get him to eat. A recommendation from Ontario Shelter Medicine might offer a solution. It is possible to have this medication compounded into a different dosed form that is more palatable. The pill can be crushed into a powder and mixed with liquid to use a syringe feeding method to get your cat to swallow his medication. The syringe method is only recommended if your cat refuses to eat anything.

Final thoughts

So far, the research shows that Famciclovir is a viable treatment option for cats who suffer from FHV1. While the treatment may cause some stomach and other digestive upsets, there is no evidence to suggest that it is toxic or detrimental to the health of felines in any way. Some cats who are sensitive to the ingredients of this anti-viral medication may not qualify for the treatment. Two studies conducted revealed no detrimental effects of Famciclovir, although the drug has not yet received FDA approval for use in cats. Your veterinarian is privy to the most recent scientific data about new drugs to improve the health of pets, and most vets only prescribe drugs that they feel confident in recommending. Until there is evidence to suggest otherwise, there is little reason to avoid giving your cat Famciclovir if he has been diagnosed with FHV1. This drug must be given with strict adherence to the dosage and duration that is recommended by your pet’s vet. It’s one of the best ways for him to recover from a potentially fatal disease.

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