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To evaluate adequacy of analgesia provided by postoperative administration of butorphanol to cats undergoing onychectomy.


Randomized controlled trial.


63 cats undergoing elective onychectomy.


Cats were randomly assigned to a treatment (n = 42) or control group (21). Cats in the treatment group were given butorphanol parenterally immediately and 4 hours after surgery and orally for 2 days after surgery. Rectal temperature, heart rate, and respiratory rate were recorded and scores were assigned for temperament, recovery, sedation, analgesia, and lameness for the first 24 hours after surgery. Owners provided scores for appetite, personality, and lameness the first and second days after discharge from the hospital.


Heart rate, respiratory rate, rectal temperature, and temperament and sedation scores were not significantly different between groups at any evaluation time. Recovery scores were significantly better for butorphanol-treated than for control-group cats 10 minutes after extubation. Analgesia scores were significantly better for butorphanol-treated than for control-group cats between 5 and 24 hours after surgery. Fewer butorphanol-treated than control-group cats were lame at the time of discharge from the hospital. The first day after discharge, owners reported that percentages of butorphanol-treated cats that ate normally, acted normally, and had only mild or no lameness were significantly higher than percentages of control-group cats that did. Significant differences between groups were not detected the second day after discharge.

Clinical Implications

Results suggest that for cats undergoing onychectomy, administration of butorphanol the day of surgery and the first full day after surgery provides effective analgesia and improves recovery, appetite, and gait. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1998;213:246-250)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association