If your cat exhibits aggressive behavior, toward people or other felines, there's no magic bullet to stop it. Aggression medications for cats are prescribed in conjunction with therapy or management changes to address Kitty's problem. Your vet can help you work through Kitty's issues.
Feline aggression can take many forms. Kitty's ire might be directed against certain people or everyone in your household, or (more commonly) against felines with whom he shares the dwelling. It can manifest itself in too-rough play, fear defensiveness, dominance displays or lack of proper socialization. Sometimes you might know what gets your cat angry, but it's possible there's no rhyme or reason to his behavior. Your vet can help you sort out what triggers Kitty's reactions, as well as deciding on appropriate medication and therapy. Different types of aggression might require specific forms of behavioral modification.
Tranquilizers of the benzodiazepine type might be prescribed to deal with Kitty's problem. Better known under the trade name Valium, diazepam is often used in cats for aggression and urine-marking issues, which are sometimes related. Your vet might also prescribe Xanax, a brand name of alprazolam, whose effects last longer in felines than diazepam. Both are given in pill form, with your vet prescribing the dosage based on Kitty's weight. However, these medications can make some cats even more aggressive. They shouldn't be given to cats with aggression issues with other felines.
Marketed under the name Buspar, buspirone hydrochloride helps treat cats with fear issues, who can react in aggressive ways due to phobic behavior. It can also cause an increase in aggressive behavior in some cats, though usually for just a short time. It can be effective in cats who are aggressive to other cats in the household.
If you're familiar with names like Prozac and Paxil, you know they are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, commonly called SSRIs. Fluoxetine, the active ingredient in Prozac, is marketed for cats under the name Reconcile. The generic form of Paxil is called paroxetine. These medications increase the amount of serotonin in Kitty's brain, elevating his mood and promoting less aggressive behavior.
Like any drugs, medications for feline aggression can produce side effects. The medication might cause personality changes in Kitty. He might not be aggressive, but could end up acting like a completely different cat. Perhaps an outgoing cat will become quiet and reserved on medication, or a formerly active cat very lethargic and dull. Depending on the type of medication, Kitty's eating and elimination habits could change. Before giving your cat any kind of medication for behavioral issues, make sure your vet informs you of any potential side effects, whether physical or mental.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
- Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: Feline Behavior Problems: Aggression
- All Feline Hospital: Feline Aggression
- The Merck Veterinary Manual: Behavioral Problems Associated with Feline Aggression
- VetInfo: Aggressive Cat Medication
- Newman Veterinary Medical Services: Feline Behaviorial Problems
- Veterinary Partner: Feline: Behavioral Medications
- The Merck Veterinary Manual: TABLE 03: Drugs That May Be Useful in the Treatment of Feline Behavioral Diagnoses
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.