Buccal administration of tiletamine-zolazepam to sedate cats

13 January 2020 – News

The most commonly used routes to administer sedatives and analgesics in veterinary medicine are intramuscularly or subcutaneously but restraining cats humanely for these procedures can be difficult and adverse reactions to injections are also possible.

Buccal administration (BA) is a simple and painless procedure in which drugs are administered into the oral cavity and given contact to the cheek mucosa.  Unlike oral administration, the first-pass hepatic effect is avoided so that therapeutic circulating concentrations are reached more quickly.

This study explored the sedative and physiological effects of tiletamine-zolazepam (TZ), administered by BA, in cats. Tiletamine belongs to the cyclohexamine family and zolazepam is a benzodiazepine. The combination is commonly used in cats and can also be administered intramuscularly, subcutaneously, intravenously or intranasally.

Each cat was given two doses of TZ (5mg/kg – a low dose and 7.5 mg/kg – a high dose).  The gastrointestinal and sedative effects on each cat for each dose were then evaluated and measurements were taken of cardio-respiratory parameters.

The results showed that sedation was achieved effectively at both doses and the calmness of the cats facilitated manual restraint and clipping with no aversive reaction for more than 30-45 mins. Heat rate measurements did not differ significantly between the doses either but the systolic blood pressure and respiratory rates were significantly lower when the cats received the 7.5mg/kg of TZ.

The duration of sedation status in this study was similar to previous studies in which TZ was administered intravenously but BA showed a slower onset.

In summary, using the BA technique to administer TZ can be an effective way to chemically restrain cats and could replace injections, leading to an improved experience for patients and their owner during veterinary consultations.

Nejamkin P. et al. Sedative and physiologic effects of tiletamine–zolazepam following buccal administration in cats. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. 2019 Jan 8. doi: 10.1177/1098612X19827116journals.sagepub.com/home/jfm