Skip to content

Healthy Cats

Tranquilizers and Behavior Drugs for Cats

Font Size
A
A
A

The best approach in treating a cat with a behavior disorder is to identify the underlying cause of the abnormal behavior and treat that cause using environmental and behavioral modification. In general, it is best to use drugs only when other methods have failed. The drug should be withdrawn from time to time to see if the problem behavior recurs.

Because of the potential for dangerous side effects, behavior drugs should only be prescribed and monitored by a veterinarian. The use of these drugs should also be part of a comprehensive behavior and environmental modification program. Many of these medications are not approved for use in cats and may also require compounding to get an appropriate dosage.

Recommended Related to Cats

Urine Marking in Cats

The most common behavior problem reported by pet parents of cats is inappropriate elimination. It’s estimated that 10% of all cats will eliminate outside their litter box at some point in their lives. Quite a few of these cats have issues with some characteristic of their litter box (please see our article on Litter Box Problems for more information on litter box problems), but approximately 30% don’t have litter box problems at all. These cats are urine marking, and urine marking isn’t a litter...

Read the Urine Marking in Cats article > >

Before any medication is administered, the cat should have a complete physical examination and blood workup to identify any underlying medical problems.

Tranquilizers

Tranquilizers are useful for calming an injured or frightened cat and for relieving anxiety attacks caused by moving, shipping, mating, or other traumatic experiences. A side effect of tranquilizers is that they block cortical inhibitory impulses. That means a tranquilized cat may stop using the litter box or may bite and scratch at the slightest provocation. It can be difficult to do behavior modification with a tranquilized cat.

Acepromazine (Promace) has a general depressive effect. It acts on the pain center and relieves anxiety. It is difficult to do any behavior modification with a cat who is tranquilized, though, so this drug should only be used very short-term. It should not be the first drug of choice and many behaviorists avoid it.

Diazepam (Valium) is less depressive and much preferred for most behavior problems requiring a tranquilizer. However, diazepam has been shown to cause serious liver problems in some cats and should not be used routinely. Cats taking diazepam need frequent liver enzyme evaluations. This drug is successful for 55 to 75 percent of cats with inappropriate elimination problems, but the behavior resumes when the medication is stopped. Since diazepam is not an appropriate drug for long-term use, it is therefore not the best choice for cats with inappropriate elimination problems.

Today on WebMD

cat at table
What's safe for them to eat?
Maine Coon cat breed
What they do and why cats have them.
 
Kitten in litterbox
How to solve them.
cat meowing
Why some cats are so talkative
 
cat on couch
Evaluator
Kitten using litter box
Quiz
 
sleeping kitten
Slideshow
sad kitten looking at milk glass
Slideshow
 

Love your pets, hate your allergies?

Get tips for relief.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

cat at table
Slideshow
muddy dog on white sofa
Quiz
 
Maine Coon cat breed
Article
Pets: Behavior Problems in Cats
Slideshow