Torbutrol for Cats

Butorphanol Tartrate, more commonly known by the brand name Torbutrol, is a heavy-duty pain reliever. Its pain killing ability and sedation effects are similar to those of Morphine. Because it is a narcotic based drug, it is considered by the DEA, or Drug Enforcement Agency, to be a controlled substance requiring a prescription for use.

Background Information on Torbutrol

Torbutrol is approved for use in cats by the FDA, or Food and Drug Administration, as well as by the DEA. It has been labeled as a safe and effective pain relieving medication. However, the effects of Torbutrol are short lived and the drug cannot be used in a long-term pain relief situation. Because of its narcotic status, only a currently DEA licensed veterinarian is eligible to prescribe this medication. An extremely tight reign is kept on the prescriptions and refills of Torbutrol because of the potential for abuse.   

When Is Torbutrol Prescribed?

Torbutrol is most commonly prescribed during the post-operative period. Because of its significant pain controlling and sedation abilities, it provides a good amount of relief for a cat that has been through surgery. It may also be used in cases of severe trauma when quick and absolute pain relief is necessary. Occasionally, it may be used as a cough suppressant or for treatment of consistent vomiting after chemotherapy.

What Forms of Torbutrol Are Available?

Torbutrol is available in tablet form and injectable form. The tablet form comes in 1 mg, 5 mg and 10 mg variations, depending upon the desired effect. Although, depending on the type of surgery or the reason for needing the medication, it may be difficult to get your cat to swallow the tablet. In those cases, the injectable form of Torbutrol might be a good alternative. The injectable form is also what would be given to your cat if a post-operative overnight stay was required for observation. A nasal spray for of Torbutrol is also available. Nasal spray can be a better option if you are uncomfortable administering the injectable form on your own.

Side Effects of Torbutrol

Any medication can cause side effects, and Torbutrol is no exception. While Torbutrol has been deemed safe by the FDA, the FDA also suggests that pet owners be aware of the possible side effects. Side effects may be limited to only a few or several of the following:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Allergic reaction
  • Sedation

Although it is unlikely, in severe cases of side effects, seizures or comas could also occur. It is also important to know that Torbutrol is known to interact with certain types of medications, such as tranquilizers and antihistamines. Taking Torbutrol with any of those types of medications can produce an exaggerated response of either medication. It is imperative that caution be used when considering the use of Torbutrol.