The aim of this study was to compare the analgesic efficacy and the effect on physiological variables and behavior of the use of tramadol, methadone and morphine as preoperative analgesia in healthy cats undergoing elective ovariohysterectomy. Cats undergoing ovariohysterectomy were randomly assigned to receive one of the following premedication treatments intramuscularly: methadone (0.2 mg/kg; n = 10); morphine (0.2 mg/kg; n = 10); or tramadol (3 mg/kg; n = 10). Induction of anesthesia was done with propofol, and maintenance of anesthesia was done with isoflurane. Intraoperative heart rate, arterial blood pressure, respiratory rate, end-tidal isoflurane concentration and frequency of rescue analgesia (fentanyl 2.5 µg/kg) were compared between groups. Postoperative analgesia was assessed using the UNESP-Botucatu Multidimensional Composite Pain Scale, and perioperative serum glucose, cortisol concentrations and postoperative rescue analgesia were evaluated. Intraoperative rescue analgesia was required in 76.5% of cats at some time during surgery, and 27% of cats required postoperative rescue analgesia up to 6 h after extubation. There were no significant differences between groups with respect to intraoperative and postoperative rescue analgesia, pain scale scores and end-tidal isoflurane concentrations. In the immediate postoperative period, after extubation, most of the patients presented with hypothermia; however, 1-6 h postoperatively, hyperthermia was observed in most of the patients, and was most common in the tramadol group. Under the conditions of this study, methadone, morphine and tramadol produced satisfactory postoperative analgesia in most of the cats undergoing ovariohysterectomy, and the effects lasted up to 6 h postoperatively. Intraoperative analgesia was not sufficient in most cases. Significant cardiovascular or respiratory effects contraindicating the use of these drugs were not found. Postanesthetic hyperthermia occurred with all opioids studied and was more frequent in the tramadol group.

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