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Tranquilizers and Behavior Drugs for Cats


Medroxyprogesterone (Provera), megestrol (Megace), and other progestins have a calming effect and depress the pain center. They are useful in modifying aggressive behavior, particularly behavior with a sexual component. Effects are similar to those of castration.

Progesterones also are effective in treating urine marking and spraying, destructive scratching, compulsive self-grooming, and cannibalism. Side effects include cystic endometrial hyperplasia, mammary hyperplasia, pyometra, adrenal gland disease, weight gain, excessive drinking and urination, and diabetes.

Because the side effects are serious, these drugs have fallen out of favor for use in behavior problems with cats. When needed, they should be used only as short-term adjuncts to behavior modification.

Other Drugs

Buspirone (Buspar) affects the brain chemical serotonin, a neurotransmittor. This medication is about 75 percent effective in stopping inappropriate elimination problems. It may take one to two weeks to truly see an improvement in the behavior, with the full effect often not apparent until four weeks or more. It must be given for about eight weeks and then the cat can be gradually weaned off in many cases-particularly if administration is accompanied by behavioral and environmental modification.

Amitriptyline (Elavil) is a neurotransmitter blocker. This drug can also help with inappropriate urination and possibly separation anxiety. Cardiac side effects may be seen, so cats on this medication should get an initial EKG and periodic follow-up EKGs.

Clomipramine (Anafranil) is a tricyclic antidepressant and helps with separation anxiety and urine marking behavior.

Fluoxetine (Prozac) is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). This drug may be recommended for elimination disorders in cats.

WebMD Veterinary Reference from "Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"

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