Medications for Spraying Cats

OK, I got the message.

OK, I got the message.

There's nothing quite like the odor of cat pee in your house. If you've got a cat who's taken to spraying urine indoors, bring him to the vet for an examination. A combination of behavioral therapy and medication can get Kitty to confine his urination to the litter box.

At the Vet

Before your vet prescribes any medication for Kitty's urine-spraying issue, she'll conduct a physical exam and take blood tests and a urinalysis to make sure he's not suffering from a medical issue. If your cat isn't neutered, doing so will stop his desire to spray to mark territory. Cats sometimes start spraying because they have a urinary tract infection. If that's the case with Kitty, treating him with antibiotics might get rid of the infection and stop the spraying. He might also suffer from kidney, liver or thyroid ailments, so appropriate medication along with a new diet can resolve the issue. However, if your vet can't diagnose a medical problem for Kitty's spraying, she might prescribe an anti-depressant or anti-anxiety drug to see if it helps.

Diazepam

Diazepam, a tranquilizer better known under the brand name Valium, was formerly the drug of choice for cats with spraying issues. It has a high success rate while Kitty is taking the medication. However, once the medication is discontinued, cats often relapse into spraying. It can also cause liver damage in some cats.

Anti-Depressants

Some of the same anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications prescribed for humans produce good results when given to cats for urine spraying. These include fluoxetine, marketed under the brand name Prozac. This particular anti-depressant works especially well, according to research done by academicians and published as "A Meta-Analysis of Studies of Treatments for Feline Urine Spraying." According to this study, fluoxetine had a temporary success rate of 90 percent, with a significant percentage of cats no longer house soiling after they stopped taking the drug. Other anti-depressants prescribed for cats include clomipramine, marketed under the name Clomicalm; buspirone, sold under the name BuSpar, and amitriptyline, better known under the name Elavil. While these other medications all produced results, none achieved the 90 percent efficacy of fluoxetine.

Behaviorial Therapy

In addition to medication, Kitty needs behavioral therapy to stop this bad habit. Try using a feline pheromone spray in the areas in which he pees, which might keep him from marking in that place. Keep litter boxes very clean, along with providing one litter box per cat in your household. If you don't have the room for that, put out as many as possible. Try changing the brands and types of cat litter. For example, Kitty might not like the smell of certain, highly scented litters. If you use a covered litter box, replace it with an open one. Many cats don't like covered litter boxes.

 

About the Author

Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.

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