Nuts and Bolts of Anxiety Meds: Medicine can help bad behavior and anxiety, but be sure the treatment doesn't cause more headaches.
Many behavioral medications need several weeks to build up sufficient levels in the cat's system to show effects. If your situation requires more immediate results, your veterinarian may choose a different medication or may initially prescribe two medications for your cat: the one that he or she wants your cat to be on long-term and another that will start working immediately to provide relief while the other medication is building up in the system.
Always follow prescription instructions closely. Cats are sensitive to many medications and giving too much or too frequently often could cause an overdose. Likewise, not giving the medication on the recommended schedule could decrease its effectiveness.
If you have trouble medicating your cat, tell your veterinarian your concerns. Pill guns and pockets are useful for getting pills into cats, but you also can investigate different formulation options that may be more appealing to your cat. Some medications can be compounded with flavoring, such as catnip or chicken. Others can be sprinkled on your cat's food or made into a gel that can be absorbed through the skin on your cat's ear. If you can't give a medication twice a day, ask about once-daily alternatives.
Types of Medication
The five classes of drugs used most commonly for feline anxiety disorders are azapirones, benzodiazepines, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
Azapirones stimulate serotonin receptors and block some adrenergic receptors. Serotonin levels have been linked to depression and anxiety, and adrenergic receptors stimulate fight-or-flight behaviors. Stimulating serotonin can be beneficial for your cat's mental state, while blocking adrenergic receptors helps to keep her calm. Azapirones are not addictive and have a low potential for abuse by humans.
Benzodiazepines enhance the effects of gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that causes sedation and muscle relaxation, among other things. These medications work fast but also have a potential for abuse.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) allow the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine (adrenaline) to stay active within the brain longer (monoamine oxidase removes these neurotransmitters).
Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) also prevent the removal of serotonin and norepinephrine from the brain.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) work by preventing the removal (or reuptake) of serotonin within the brain. One of the advantages to these medications is that they seem to specifically target serotonin, while other neurotransmitters are unaffected.
Every medication has the potential for drug interactions, so it is important to notify your veterinarian of any and all medications and supplements that your cat may be taking.
Depending on the cause and severity of your cats anxiety disorder, anti-anxiety medication may be a short-term solution to alleviate symptoms while you make adjustments to his environment to decrease stress, or it may be a long-term medication that he receives for the rest of his life. With most long-term medications, your veterinarian will want to do bloodwork every six to 12 months to monitor liver and kidney function. This regular bloodwork is important to make sure that the medication is not impacting the rest of your cat's body in a negative way and allows you to catch any developing problems early.
Caption: A cat who is unnecessarily anxious may be helped by an anti-anxiety medication.
Feline Anti-Anxiety Medications Medication Useful Information Side Effects (Brand), Drug Class Alprazolam If being used to calm Sedation, irritability, (Xanax), the cat during specific depression, increased Benzodiazepine events or triggers, it appetite, temporary should be given 30 to balance/mobility 60 minutes beforehand. issues; should be used Usually in tablet form, with caution for cats but can be compounded with liver or kidney as a liquid suspension. disease. Amitriptyline Can be given once or Sedation, constipation, (Elavil), twice a day. May take urinary retention, Tricyclic weeks to see results. excessive drooling, antidepressant Make sure the cat has anorexia, vomiting, access to plenty of clotting disorders, water. Dosage must be irregular heartbeat; tapered if you should be used with discontinue this caution for cats with medication. seizure disorders. Buspirone Given 2 to 3 times a Behavioral changes such (BuSpar), day. May take a week or as increased affection Azapirone longer to see results. and assertiveness; Can be given on an should be used with empty stomach, but if caution in cats with the cat vomits, the liver or kidney owner should try giving disease. it with a meal. Clomipramine Given once a day. May Vomiting, diarrhea, (Clomicalm take several weeks to sedation, dry mouth, and Anafranil), see results and is increased heart rate, Tricyclic most effective when urinary retention, antidepressant used with behavioral constipation; should be management. Dosage is used with caution in usually started low and cats with seizure then gradually disorders, liver or increased and should be kidney disease, tapered if the arrhythmias, medication is constipation, or discontinued. Can be urinary retention. given with or without food. Avoid giving your cat aged cheeses while he is on clomipramine. Clonazepam Longer-acting than most Sedation, ataxia, liver (Klonopin), benzodiazepines. Dosage problems, increased Benzodiazepine should be tapered if appetite; should be discontinuing. If using used with caution in to calm a cat during cats with liver specific events or disease, narrow angle triggers, it should be glaucoma, or given an hour myasthenia gravis. beforehand. Can be compounded in a liquid suspension. Diazepam Should not be given to Sedation, ataxia, liver (Valium and cats who have been failure, irritability, Diastat), exposed to the depression, increased Benzodiazepine pesticide chlorpyrifos. appetite; should be used with caution in cats with liver or kidney disease. Because of the potential for liver problems, diazepam is controversial for use in cats. Fluoxetine Given once a day. Can Anxiety, irritability, (Prozac and be given with or altered sleep cycles, Reconile), without food. May take anorexia, altered Selective several weeks to see elimination patterns; serotonin results. When should be used with reuptake discontinuing, dosage caution in cats with inhibitor should be tapered diabetes mellitus, (SSRI) gradually. seizure disorders, or liver disease. Paroxetine Given once a day. May Anxiety, irritability, (Paxil), SSRI take days to weeks to altered sleep see results. When schedules, anorexia, discontinuing, dosage constipation, altered should be tapered elimination patterns; gradually. Avoid flea should be used with collars while giving caution in cats with paroxetine. heart, kidney, or liver disease. Selegiline Given once daily, Vomiting, diarrhea, (Anipryl, usually in the evening restlessness, lethargy, l-depenyl, for cats. May take drooling, anorexia, Eldepryl), several weeks to see hearing loss, itching, Monoamine effects. It is FDA- licking, tremors. oxidase approved for cognitive inhibitor dysfunction syndrome in dogs. Sertraline Given once daily. May Sedation, anorexia, (Zoloft), SSRI take weeks to months to vomiting, diarrhea, see results. When irritability, anxiety, discontinuing, dosage altered sleep should be tapered schedules; should be gradually. Avoid flea used with caution in collars while giving elderly cats or those sertraline. with liver disease.
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|Date:||Oct 1, 2018|
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