OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the tolerability, sedative and analgesic effects of methadone in combination with medetomidine for premedication prior to neutering in healthy cats.
METHODS: This was an assessor-blinded, randomised, clinical research study. Forty-five cats were recruited and divided into three treatment groups of 15. Following premedication with medetomidine (20 µg/kg) and one of the three test drugs - methadone 0.5 mg/kg, buprenorphine 20 µg/kg or butorphanol 0.4 mg/kg intramuscularly - anaesthesia was induced with propofol and maintained with isoflurane, and neutering was carried out. Sedation and physiological parameters were assessed before premedication, after premedication before induction of anaesthesia, and at 90 mins and 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 24 h after premedication. Pain and mechanical nociceptive threshold were assessed at similar time points.
RESULTS: There were no differences between groups with respect to age, sex, duration of anaesthesia or surgery. Most cats had low pain scores in the postoperative period, with small differences in pain scores between groups at individual time points only. Five, two and no cats required additional rescue analgesia in the postoperative period in the butorphanol, methadone and buprenorphine groups, respectively, and was not significantly different between groups.
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Medetomidine combined with methadone for premedication prior to neutering in healthy cats provided adequate analgesia for the first 6 h after administration with no adverse effects; effects overall were comparable with medetomidine combined with buprenorphine or butorphanol. Administration of further analgesia with methadone at 6 h and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug at 8 h provided adequate analgesia for the first 24 h after surgery.