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What Are the Different Types of Steroids for Cats?

By Alicia Sparks
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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The two different types of steroids for cats are anti-inflammatory steroids and anabolic steroids. These steroid treatments can be administered intravenously or orally in pill or liquid form. Steroids like prednisone, methylprednisolone, and dexamethasone make up the group of common anti-inflammatory steroids and are used for conditions involving swelling and inflammation. Other types of steroid medication, like stanozolol and nandrolone or nortestosterone, are anabolic steroids that help adrenaline and other hormone problems. Both kinds of steroids for cats can cause adverse side effects, so veterinarians should monitor their use and make adjustments or prescribe a different medication if required.

Anti-inflammatory steroids perhaps are the most common steroid medication, among both humans and animals. Vets often prescribe anti-inflammatory steroids for cats to treat various causes of swelling and inflammation. Examples include conditions that cause inflammation of the stomach and intestines, sinuses, and the lungs and bronchi, which are the tubes that allow air to travel to and from the lungs. Certain conditions that cause brain and spinal swelling react well to anti-inflammatory steroids. Other common uses of steroids for cats include arthritis and tendinitis, allergies, and diseases that attack the immune system.

Although they are well-known for their abuse among some weight lifters, body builders, and athletes, anabolic steroids provide immense health benefits for cats. For instance, veterinarians might prescribe anabolic steroids for cats who suffer from anemia and need to rebuild their red blood cell count. Cats with conditions that have prevented them from being active and led to atrophied muscles can benefit from the muscle-strengthening properties of anabolic steroids. These steroids can also stimulate bone marrow, as well as act as hormone medication. For example, some feline urethra problems respond well to testosterone hormone treatment provided by anabolic steroids.

Just as they can with human use, the side effects of steroid treatment among cats vary from mild to severe. Some cats experience an increase in appetite and thirst, weight gain, and sodium and fluid retention. Other cats experience personality changes and may become more aggressive or irritable than usual. Certain side effects, like difficulty breathing and the onset of kidney or liver disease, can seriously affect the cat’s quality of life or even be fatal. If a veterinarian prescribes a steroid treatment for a cat, he should closely monitor the cat’s positive and negative reactions to the treatment and adjust or discontinue the medication as necessary.

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