To evaluate the impact of daily gabapentin on behavior modification progression and signs of stress in fearful shelter cats from hoarding environments.
37 cats (32 met inclusion criteria).
Healthy fearful cats were entered into group (1) gabapentin or (2) placebo upon intake. Both groups received daily behavior modification. Cats received 10 mg/kg of liquid gabapentin or placebo every 12 hours. Daily measures of cat stress score, latency to emerge from hiding, general in-shelter behavior, and urine suppression were collected. Results were analyzed on an intention-to-treat and per-protocol basis (including only cats that received > 75% of their doses). Post-adoption surveys assessed cat social behavior.
Of 32 fearful cats, 28 (87.5%) graduated from the behavior modification program in a median of 11 days (range, 4 to 51 days). Per-protocol analysis showed that gabapentin predicted quicker behavior modification progression and lower cat stress score, latency to emerge, and urine suppression compared to placebo. Median time to graduation was reduced by half with gabapentin. Intention-to-treat analysis showed that gabapentin predicted a lower cat stress score and latency to emerge. No differences were observed between groups for general in-shelter behavior. Among limited survey respondents (n = 7), despite showing unsocial behavior in the first week and among unfamiliar people, cats showed social behavior 1 year post-adoption.
Daily gabapentin was beneficial in behavior modification progress and reduced signs of stress in shelter cats. Fearful cats from hoarding environments can be successfully treated with behavior modification ± daily gabapentin within an animal shelter.