Squirt a little magic in that hissing cats mouth

January 20, 2017

Veterinary anesthesia and analgesia expert Tasha McNerney makes a case for kitty magic and describes how to deliver it to particularly peevish cats.

Knumina Studios/Shutterstock.com“Kitty magic, a cocktail of dexmedetomidine, ketamine and butorphanol, is something that people are using in practice a lot. But I think it's important to note that kitty magic sometimes gets a bad rap,” says CVC educator Tasha McNerney BS, CVT, CVPP, VTS (anesthesia and analgesia). “While it's certainly not as nuanced as titrating a specific IV anesthesia, for fractious cats or for cats that are scared out of their minds, the drug combination in kitty magic can provide good analgesia.”

According to a 2016 paper from Cornell University, the drug cocktail may be made with equal volume dexmedetomidine (0.5 mg/ml), ketamine (100 mg/ml) and butorphanol (10 mg/ml). (McNerney uses buprenorphine instead of butorphanol, but she says either one works.) The recommended dosing is 0.035 ml/kg for ill patients and 0.065 ml/kg for healthy patients, and the mixture should take effect within five to 10 minutes, the paper says. Kitty magic can be stored at room temperature for up to two months.

“Kitty magic can be given via intramuscular injection when the cat is calm enough,” McNerney says. But that doesn't work for particularly anxious or agitated felines, so McNerney offers another option. “Because all of these drugs are well absorbed transmucosally, we give these cats a double dose by attaching a catheter to the end of a syringe and squirting the drugs into their hissing mouths. They are usually subdued within 20 minutes.”