Barbiturate Withdrawal Syndrome in Cats

  • Michiko Okamoto
  • Howard C. Rosenberg
  • Norman R. Boisse
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 85B)


A study describes a reliable laboratory method in producing pentobarbital physical dependency in the cat. The drug is administered via a chronically implanted intragastric cannula. A range of neurological signs of intoxication was scored before and after each dose and during the day at certain preset intervals. Based on the scoring of neurological impairment, each cat was given the maximally tolerable anesthetic dose of sodium pentobarbital twice daily for five weeks.

Upon abrupt withdrawal of the drug, each animal was placed in an activity cage and observed closely for signs of barbiturate abstinence. Electroencephalographic monitoring of sleep-wake cycles was performed in 5 of the 60 cats studied.

Most withdrawal signs appeared in 12–18 hours and rapidly intensified. These included signs of neural hyperexcitability that involved motor, autonomic, and behavioral function. Data are presented describing the incidence, severity, and time course of many withdrawal signs. One hundred percent of animals treated by this method displayed grand mal type convulsions; 41% of them died during the abstinence. The importance of quantitative withdrawal phenomena is discussed with respect to investigation of the requirements for physical dependency production, comparison of different drug dependencies, and pre-clinical evaluation of potential treatments of sedative-hypnotic dependence.


Chronic Treatment Physical Dependence Withdrawal Sign Intention Tremor Pupillary Light Reflex 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michiko Okamoto
    • 1
  • Howard C. Rosenberg
    • 1
  • Norman R. Boisse
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PharmacologyCornell University Medical CollegeNew YorkUSA

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