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.