Cyclosporine for Cats

Cyclosporine is available both in the form of pills, gel caps and topical ointment and is administered in pets that have an autoimmune condition. The drug will suppress the immune system and can be effective in reducing the effects of an abnormal activity of this system manifested through skin reactions or irregular blood cell counts.

When Is Cyclosporine Used in Felines

In felines, cyclosporine is used in immune system mediated diseases. The drug will interfere with the calcium ion uptake, important in the production of white blood cells. These white cells may be responsible for an irregular activity of the immune system.

The most common used of cyclosporine include:

  • Lupus, both discoid and erythematosus
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Dry eye
  • Perineal fistula

The drug may also be used in cats that have undergone a transplant surgery and the drugs will help the pet assimilate the foreign organ better, by suppressing the immune system. The immune system is responsible for rejecting an organ in the case of a transplant.

Oral cyclosporine for pets is not FDA approved, but it is often used as an extra label drug. Topical cyclosporine is approved for use in pets and may be used if the pet is affected by dermatitis.

Cyclosporine is marketed as Atopica (the ointment) and Optimmune, the pill.

Cyclosporine Side Effects

Cyclosporine can be tolerated by cats, but most will develop certain side effects, especially when the drug is administered orally. Common side effects include:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Liquid feces
  • Gastric ulcers
  • Depression

The pet will also be more prone to developing infections, as the immune system is not as responsive while under oral treatment.

In rare cases, lymphoma may occur after a longer administration of cyclosporine. However, additional studies are needed to find the link between the treatment and the occurrence of lymphoma.

The topical cream may cause a few adverse reactions as well, including:

  • Rashes on the skin, especially when the topical treatment is administered for a longer period of time
  • Itchiness
  • Skin depigmentation
  • Changes in the color of the fur

Dosage for Cyclosporine in Cats

In cats, cyclosporine is only available through veterinarian prescription. The dosage will be established per pounds of body weight and according to the type of disease treated. You shouldn’t administer the drug without consulting the vet first; you should also keep the dosage recommended.  

When applied topically, the cream should be applied once or twice per day.

Cyclosporine Contraindications

Cyclosporine shouldn’t be administered in gestating cats and felines that breastfeed. The oral treatment is not recommended in pets under the age of 6 months or if the cat weighs under 2 kilos or 4 pounds.

Let the vet know if your pet is under any medication, as cyclosporine can interact with certain chemicals.

If your cat has severe adverse reactions, you need to consult your vet and discontinue the treatment.