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Although buprenorphine may not have the
name recognition of some drugs, it is nonetheless
a great pain medication for cats.

Buprenorphine is a potent opioid painkiller.  Like all effective painkillers of it's class, it is manufactured mainly for use in humans.  However, it turns out to be an excellent medication to give to cats.  For a detailed discussion of how buprenorphine works, click the link to go to another article on Pain Management.  For the short version, let's just say that buprenorphine acts on opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord to decrease pain in much the same way as morphine or demerol would.  Anyone who has ever had either of these drugs will attest to their wonderful pain-killing properties.

Some folks who have had morphine or demerol will also be able to attest to some of their undesirable proporties.  Some humans do not do well on them, experiencing nausea or delirium.  Cats are especially prone to experience the adverse effects, or "bad trip" that opioids can produce.  That is reason one why buprenorphine is so good for cats:  Buprenorphine almost never produces these types of adverse events in cats.

Buprenorphine is generally given as an injection.  It is rapidly destroyed by the body if swallowed and taken orally. However, in cats only, the pH of the mouth is such that buprenorphine is rapidly absorbed across the gums.  Thus, it is in a form that does not have to be given as a pill or injected, both of which can be difficult in cats.  This is reason two why buprenorphine is so good for cats.

Buprenorphine is dispensed in a small amber bottle. It may look like there is nothing inside, but there is actually a small volume, just under 2 ml. The dose in only 0.10ml, and it is measured with a special syringe. Note the red line on the syringe.  

How to give buprenorphine:  Remove the plastic lid. Insert the syringe into the hole in the stopper in the neck of the amber bottle. Turn the bottle and the syringe upside down. Then draw up the medication to the red line on the syringe. Turn the syringe and the bottle back right-side-up.

Then insert the syringe gently into your cat’s mouth and deposit the medication anywhere between cheek and gum. Don’t give buprenorphine at the same time as other medications. Give the other medication first, then wait 10 minutes and give the buprenorphine. Buprenorphine is dosed every 12 hours. Do not refrigerate. Keep this and all medications out of the reach of children.