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  • Author or Editor: Jacob A. Johnson x
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Objective—To characterize the antinociceptive action of IM-administered butorphanol, buprenorphine, or a combination of both by use of a thermal threshold method in cats.

Animals—2 male and 4 female domestic cats.

Procedures—In a controlled, masked, randomized, crossover study design, thermal thresholds were measured by use of a thermal threshold–testing device developed for cats. Each cat received 4 treatments 1 week apart, consisting of 2 simultaneous IM injections in a random order (butorphanol-saline [0.9% NaCl] solution, buprenorphine-saline solution, butorphanol-buprenorphine, and saline solution-saline solution). The tester was unaware of the treatment given. Thermal thresholds were measured prior to injection, at intervals up to 12 hours, and at 22 hours after injection.

Results—There was no significant change in threshold over time after saline solution administration. All 3 opioid treatment groups had significant increases in thermal threshold, compared with pretreatment values (butorphanol, from 50 minutes to 8 hours; buprenorphine, from 35 minutes to 5 hours; and butorphanol-buprenorphine, from 50 minutes to 8 hours). Thermal thresholds did not differ significantly among opioid treatments at any time points, and thermal thesholds of only 2 opioid treatments (butorphanol at 50 minutes and butorphanol-buprenorphine at 8 hours) were significantly different from that of saline solution.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—All 3 opioid treatments provided similar antinociception, although there was considerable intercat variability in the response to the different opioid treatments. This emphasizes the importance of assessing each patient individually and applying the treatment that works best for that patient.

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research



Alfaxalone is a commonly used anesthetic agent in small animals. In cats, alfaxalone can be administered as an IM agent to achieve clinically useful sedation or anesthesia, negating the need for IV injection in difficult patients. The molecular structure of alfaxalone is similar to the hormone progesterone (P4). It is hypothesized that alfaxalone would cross-react with the assay measuring progesterone causing a false elevation.


8 healthy neutered male, domestic shorthair cats that were privately owned were enrolled in the study.


Male neutered cats were administered 3 mg/kg of alfaxalone IM. Blood samples were collected at set time points (baseline, 30 minutes, 60 minutes, 3 hours, 6 hours, and 10 hours after administration), and serum concentrations of progesterone immunoreactivity (IR) were determined using the Siemens Immulite 1000 automated immunoassay system. Statistical analysis was performed with repeated measures ANOVA and a Tukey-Cramer multiple comparisons test. A P value of < .05 was used for significance.


Serum progesterone IR was significantly elevated at 30 minutes, 1 hour, and 3 hours (P < .05) when compared to baseline progesterone immunoreactivity. Progesterone immunoreactivity had returned to baseline by 6 hours.


This study suggests that alfaxalone administered IM in cats may interfere with immunoassay measurement of serum progesterone for up to 6 hours. Caution should be used when interpreting serum progesterone immunoreactivity results in cats within 4 hours of alfaxalone.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association