Treating Behavior Problems in Cats
Serotonin (5-HT) Agonists
Buspirone (BuSpar® or Bespar) is the only 5-HT agonist that’s
used regularly in companion animal behavior treatment plans. It’s sometimes
used in conjunction with SSRIs and TCAs when treatment begins, but it’s also
sometimes used by itself.
Like other medicines that act on serotonin, buspirone needs to be taken
every day to be effective. If the medicine isn’t taken every day, it won’t work
to treat the behavior problem. Buspirone usually takes about three weeks to
produce therapeutic effects, although this period might be shortened if the
medication is taken in addition to an SSRI.
Giving Your Cat Her Medicine
If you decide to use a behavioral medication to help your cat overcome a
behavior problem, you might run into a challenge when you try to give her
medicine. It can be difficult to get cats to swallow pills, and some cats get
so upset by the pilling process that they start avoiding their pet parents
altogether. To learn how to give your cat the medicine she needs in the least
stressful way possible, please see our article on Giving Your Cat a Pill.
Seek the Advice of an Experienced Professional
This article is intended to help pet parents understand common behavioral
medications used for cats. It is not intended as a guide to choosing behavior
medications. If your cat suffers from fear, anxiety, compulsive behavior or any
other behavior problem for which you’re considering behavioral medication, be
sure to first consult a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB or ACAAB) or
a board-certified veterinary behaviorist (Dip ACVB). These qualified animal
behavior experts can evaluate your cat’s behavior problem and help you develop
a treatment plan, give you advice on suitable medications, and work with your
veterinarian to maximize the success of your cat’s treatment program.