You might take melatonin on occasion if you're having trouble sleeping. The same hormonal supplement, in appropriate feline dosage, can help your kitty with his sleep or anxiety issues. Consult your veterinarian before giving your cat this over-the-counter supplement. While melatonin benefits cats with certain issues, it's not a cure-all.
Produced in the bodies of mammals in the pineal gland, melatonin aids molting times in some animals. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, "Secretion is inversely related to daylight length and is highest during the winter." An antioxidant as well as a hormone, melatonin is often used by humans as a mild sedative. It's well-tolerated in cats, with few side effects other than sleepiness -- which might be the point of giving it to Kitty -- and diarrhea.
Cats need sleep aids? Don't they spend the vast majority of the day's 24 hours taking cat naps? That's true of most cats, but some cats, especially as they age, develop sleep disturbances. Actually, their behavior is disturbing their owners, because these cats wander around the house all night, possibly meowing frequently. Giving Kitty melatonin can help regulate his sleep cycle, which in turn gets your sleep cycle back on track.
Feline anxiety comes in various forms. This might include the classic separation anxiety, where Kitty gets upset if you leave him alone in the house. Evidence of feline residential destruction greets you upon your arrival home. Cats might become frightened of loud noises, such as thunder or Fourth of July celebrations. For these purposes, the supplement can become "mellow-tonin" for Kitty. While you can give Kitty melatonin when you hear the rumblings of thunder or on the third of July, separation anxiety and similar ongoing behavioral issues require long-term administration. Discuss Kitty's issues with your vet before giving the cat melatonin.
While the best and most effective way to ensure your cat doesn't contribute to the general feline overpopulation problem is by spaying and neutering, that's not an option if you're breeding purebred felines. You might not want to breed your female cats that frequently, but when they're in heat they're difficult to deal with. They yowl, roll around on the floor and generally behave like, well, a cat in heat. Scientists are looking into the possibility of melatonin implants for reproduction control. As of 2012, this research is still in its early stages.
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.
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.