Cat Spraying and Elavil

The cat stuff

Unusually (perhaps not that unusually, in fact) cat spraying and Elavil may go together. Cat breeders will suffer the consequences of male cats spraying as it is part of their natural way to mark territory and is part of the way cats communicate as they have a fantastic sense of smell. Spraying marks boundaries. The urine contains pheromones which help identify a cat. Pretty well all cat owners know this now thanks to the internet.

Elavil for anxious cats sometimes. Last resort.
Elavil for anxious cats sometimes. Last resort. Image: MikeB
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Males do it more often than females but both do it. Neutering reduces it but it can still happen. Intact males do it more than neutered males because they are more into the male thing when intact being driven by their testosterone.

Spraying can be brought on through anxiety. A cat may spray when anxious because it reassures them and makes them feel calmer. In catteries studs are kept in cages (outside it seems sometimes at least) partly for this reason.

Intact, breeding cats are probably sometimes pretty impossible to live with. Apparently drugs either homeopathic or otherwise can help. I am not a breeder but apparently it is not unknown for breeders to give a drug to cats at shows or when appropriate, which is also used on humans to alleviate anxiety. It is called Elavil or perhaps better known as amitriptyline.

This drug can be given to cats at 10mg doses apparently but don’t take my word for it as I am not medically qualified. Interestingly the human version comes in 25 mg pills so 10 mg seems a lot to me. VITAL: check with your vet. Never medicate a cat without veterinary input. Far too dangerous.

I think it can cause drowsiness and other side effects like putting on weight (also see below). Rescue Remedy is a homeopathic drug also commonly used by people to reduce stress and which is also given to cats sometimes. It can also help to reduce stress due to separation anxiety. Seek Medical advice always.

The drug Elavil

Elavil is a brand name for amitriptyline which is used it appears to me quite extensively for the treatment of mental health disorders in small animals. I know that it is used for anxiety in people and it can be prescribed to help stop urine spraying due to anxiety in cats. It can also be used to alleviate pain and itchiness in small animals and for lower urinary tract disease in cats. Multiple uses basically.

Are there any potential side effects? Well, yes there nearly always are. Drowsiness and sedation is a common side effect and possibly constipation and urinary retention. There are other possible side effects such as endocrine problems specifically hormonal imbalances. You will have to see your veterinary clinic about this but like other cat owners I’ve read about quite a lot of cat anxiety on the internet often due to stresses that have built up in a multi-cat home.

Another common cause is the absence of the cat’s owner resulting in separation anxiety further resulting in unwanted spraying and defecation to mark territory and to reassure the cat.

When Jackson Galaxy advises the use of a cat mind-altering drug, I think that he would probably most often describe Elavil. This is probably because the most commonly encountered feline behavioural problem is concerned with anxiety and stress.

Some more on drugs for cats

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