The 11 Best Cat Anxiety Medications- A Comprehensive Guide

The 11 Best Cat Anxiety Medications: A Comprehensive Guide

Anant Shastri
By Anant Shastri
Medically reviewed by Natalie H Ragland, DVM
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Can You Get Medication for Cat Anxiety?

Can You Get Medication for Cat Anxiety

Yes, there are many cat anxiety medication options. In addition to mainstream options, there are several natural supplements and products (such as calming beds) that can also work to alleviate symptoms of anxiety in cats.

You just need to find the perfect fit depending on your cat’s anxiety and the severity of its symptoms. It is vital that you visit a vet before using a cat anxiety medication. The vet will craft a customized treatment plan depending on the specific cat behavior.

How do Cat Anxiety Medications Work?

Most anti-anxiety medications work by modulating the neurotransmitter levels in the cat’s brain. This reduces signs of stress and fear and therefore reduces overall anxiety.

There are two main types of anxiety observed in cats. These are short-term and long-term.

Short-Term Cat Anxiety Medication Options. As the name suggests, these medicines are quick-acting anxiety treatments and can reduce anxious behavior in a matter of hours. However, their effect on the anxious cat lasts only for a few hours. These are best for situations that can cause stress to your cat, such as a veterinary visit. If not used consistently, you do not need to wean your cat off these.

Long-Term Cat Anxiety Medication Options. These meds reduce advanced signs of anxiety in the long run and cater to several medical conditions and health issues. These are supposed to be administered daily for 2-3 months. After that, the cat can be weaned off. In severe cases, the cat with behavioral problems can stay on these meds for 6-12 months. Then, the vet will recommend frequent checkups (bloodwork and physical exams).

What is the Best Cat Anxiety Medication?

What is the Best Cat Anxiety Medication

Considering the options that are available in the market today, there is no single-best cat anxiety medication. Just like each cat is different, similarly, each medicine is unique and works slightly differently in comparison to each other to treat anxiety disorders.

Always visit your vet and plan out a treatment plan for the anxious cat. The treatment often involves a combination of SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and other meds like antidepressants.

Amitriptyline for Cats

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What is Amitriptyline for Cats?

Amitriptyline (Elavil) is used to treat severe anxious behavior, especially separation anxiety. Additionally, it also works to counter uncontrolled urination and lower urinary tract diseases. It also helps with excessive grooming in cats. This medicine belongs to the category of tricyclic antidepressants.

What type of cat anxiety does Amitriptyline treat?

This cat anxiety medication works really well for cats with general anxiety disorder, especially separation anxiety.

How is Amitriptyline given to cats?

Amitriptyline is given orally in the form of a tablet. There is also an especially compounded liquid form. The medication can be given with or without food.

What are Amitriptyline’s side effects in cats?

  • Drowsiness/sedation
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Urinary retention
  • Increased salivation
  • Anorexia
  • Vomiting
  • Incoordination
  • Behavioral modification

Alprazolam for Cats

What is Alprazolam for Cats?

Alprazolam (Xanax) is a benzodiazepine that improves GABA activity in the cat’s brain. It is a short-acting prescription medication that starts working in around 30 minutes. Alprazolam is given periodically every 8-12 hours. Your cat needs to be weaned off slowly before stopping this, especially if consuming the med for a while. Alprazolam may amplify aggressive behavior in cats.

What type of cat anxiety does Alprazolam treat?

Alprazolam is great for cats with situational anxiety or short-term anxiety that is caused by certain events.

How is Alprazolam given to cats?

Alprazolam is available in the form of tablets as well as an oral solution. Pet parents can administer this cat anxiety medication around half an hour before the triggering event with or without food.

What are Alprazolam’s side effects in cats?

  • Sedation
  • Increased appetite
  • Uncoordinated walking
  • Behavioral changes

Buspirone for Cats

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What is Buspirone for Cats?

Buspirone (Buspar) is classified as an azapirone and works by impacting the serotonin and dopamine receptors in the brain. It is to be given daily over a period of time for it to show its effect. In addition to treating anxiety disorders, Buspirone is also used to manage elimination (urination or defecation) disorders, in cats that avoid the litter box due to anxiety issues.

What type of cat anxiety does Buspirone treat?

Buspirone is a cat anxiety medication great for generalized anxiety (mild to moderate) in addition to fearful behavior.

How is Buspirone given to cats?

Buspirone is available in the form of tablets that can be given with or without food. Check the dosage your cat needs based on your vet’s recommendation.

What are Buspirone’s side effects in cats?

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Agitation
  • Sedation
  • Increased affectionate behavior
  • Increased confidence
  • Excess vocalization and meowing

Clomipramine for Cats

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What is Clomipramine for Cats?

Clomipramine (Anafranil) is a tricyclic antidepressant that alters the levels of norepinephrine and serotonin in the cat’s brain. This reduces anxiety and aggressive behavior. Clomipramine needs around 4-6 weeks before it starts to show effects. The dosage should be consistent and not be discontinued in an abrupt manner.

What type of cat anxiety does Clomipramine treat?

Clomipramine is used to treat generalized anxiety (moderate to severe anxiety).

How is Clomipramine given to cats?

Clomipramine is available in the form of tablets and capsules which can be given to your cat with or without food. This cat anxiety medication is also available in a compounded oral solution form.

What are Clomipramine’s side effects in cats?

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Agitation
  • Sedation
  • Lethargy
  • Dry mouth
  • Decreased appetite

Fluoxetine for Cats

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What is Fluoxetine for Cats?

Fluoxetine (Prozac) is an SSRI, and it works by blocking receptors in your cat’s brain, thereby increasing serotonin levels. This helps regulate mood and calms your cat down. As a result, there is decreased anxiety and impulsive behavior. Fluoxetine needs 4 to 6 weeks before it shows its full effect. Additionally, it needs to be taken on a daily basis.

What type of cat anxiety does Fluoxetine treat?

Fluoxetine is a cat anxiety medication used in the management of felines with generalized anxiety (moderate to severe anxiety).

How is Fluoxetine given to cats?

Fluoxetine is available in the form of oral tablets. However, specialty pharmacies can convert them into chews, capsules, and liquid depending on your requirements.

What are Fluoxetine’s side effects in cats?

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Agitation
  • Sedation
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite

Gabapentin for Cats

What is Gabapentin for Cats?

Gabapentin (Neurontin) is technically an anticonvulsant and it modulates the channels of calcium ions in your cat’s brain. This reduces excitement in your cat and calms them down. We should note that the human version of this medication should not be given to cats as it contains xylitol (an artificial sweetener that is toxic to cats) which could cause problems. Gabapentin for cat anxiety starts working within an hour.

What type of cat anxiety does Gabapentin treat?

Gabapentin is given for short-term anxiety that is often situational. In addition to being a cat anxiety medication, Gabapentin is used for various other issues. 

How is Gabapentin given to cats?

Gabapentin is available in the form of a capsule, tablet, or compounded liquid and should be given around an hour before the triggering event.

What are Gabapentin’s side effects in cats?

  • Lethargy
  • Sedation
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of motor coordination
  • Agitation

Lorazepam for Cats

What is Lorazepam for Cats?

Lorazepam (Ativan) is a benzodiazepine and, therefore, a fast-acting cat anxiety medication. It works almost instantly and shows its effect within 30 minutes. Furthermore, it can be given every 12 hours based on need. However, frequent use causes dependency and tolerance. If the medicine is used for a prolonged period, it needs to be slowly weaned off.

What type of cat anxiety does Lorazepam treat?

Lorazepam is used to treat short-term anxiety that is often situational.

How is Lorazepam given to cats?

As a cat anxiety medication, Lorazepam is available in the form of a tablet or a liquid. Additionally, it can also be given with the help of an injection by a vet.

What are Lorazepam’s side effects in cats?

  • Lethargy
  • Sedation
  • Loss of motor coordination
  • Increased appetite
  • Paradoxical excitement
  • Disinhibition of aggressive behavior

Oxazepam for Cats

What is Oxazepam for Cats?

Oxazepam (Serax) is also a benzodiazepine and thus is a fast-acting medicine. It shows its effect within 30 minutes and can be given every 24 hours. If used daily, it results in tolerance and even dependency. If used for a long time, it is necessary to slowly wean your cat off this medicine. If your cat has a tendency to be aggressive, Oxazepam must be used with caution.

What type of cat anxiety does Oxazepam treat?

Oxazepam is a cat anxiety medication that treats short-term and often situational anxiety. 

How is Oxazepam given to cats?

Oxazepam is available in the form of capsules and tablets. There is also a compounded liquid suspension available. Oxazepam can be given with or without food.

What are Oxazepam’s side effects in cats?

  • Lethargy
  • Sedation
  • Loss of motor coordination
  • Increased appetite
  • Paradoxical excitement
  • Disinhibition of aggressive behavior 

Paroxetine for Cats

What is Paroxetine for Cats?

Paroxetine (Paxil) is an SSRI that helps to improve the quantity of serotonin in the brain. This medicine is additionally a good alternative to fluoxetine which often leads to cats becoming agitated or losing appetite. Additionally, it also has a lesser sedative effect. It takes around 4-6 weeks before it takes effect and must be given once daily.

What type of cat anxiety does Paroxetine treat?

Paroxetine is a cat anxiety medication used to treat generalized anxiety (moderate to severe anxiety).

How is Paroxetine given to cats?

Paroxetine is available in the form of tablets, capsules, and liquid suspension. It can be given with or without food.

What are Paroxetine’s side effects in cats?

  • Sedation
  • Lethargy
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty urinating

Sertraline for Cats

What is Sertraline for Cats?

Sertraline (Zoloft) is an SSRI and therefore increases the amount of serotonin in the body. It takes around 4-6 weeks before it takes full effect. This medicine should be given once daily and abrupt discontinuation must be avoided. Since the smallest tablet of sertraline is still a large dose, this medicine needs to be compounded by specialty pharmacies.

What type of cat anxiety does Sertraline treat?

Sertraline is used to treat generalized anxiety (mild to moderate anxiety).

How is Sertraline given to cats?

Sertraline is available in the form of chewable tablets, capsules, and even flavored liquids through specialty pharmacies.

What are Sertraline’s side effects in cats?

  • Sedation
  • Lethargy
  • Agitation
  • Decreased appetite

Trazodone for Cats

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What is Trazodone for Cats?

Trazodone (Desyrel) belongs to the category of serotonin-2A antagonist reuptake inhibitor. This makes it a fast-acting medicine that shows its effect within 60-90 minutes. Its effects last for about 8-12 hours.

What type of cat anxiety does Trazodone treat?

As a cat anxiety medication, Trazodone is used in the management of short-term anxiety triggered by situational stress.

How is Trazodone given to cats?

Trazodone is available in the form of tablets that can be given orally with or without food.

What are Trazodone’s side effects in cats?

  • Lethargy
  • Sedation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Agitation

How do You Know if Your Cat Needs Anxiety Medication?

How do You Know if Your Cat Needs Anxiety Medication

Cat anxiety medication treatment is necessary in cases when the cat shows signs of anxiety and does not respond to natural supplements and remedies.

The telltale signs of cat anxiety include:

  • Trembling with no trigger
  • Withdrawal behavior
  • Hiding
  • Becoming less active or hyperactive
  • Attempts to escape
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Diarrhea
  • Litter box accidents
  • Sores due to over-grooming

If you observe these signs, it is best to take your cat to the vet. They will ask you questions to determine the cause of the problem and prescribe meds based on your cat’s environment and lifestyle. Sometimes, the vet may refer you to a veterinary behaviorist.

How Long does it Take for Cat Anxiety Meds to Work?

Depending on the type of med and the severity of the condition, the cat anxiety medication can take an hour to almost a month to show its full effect.

If your cat is triggered by certain events like visits to the vet, a single dosage might suffice. These single-dose anti-anxiety medications work fast and make your pet calm down before triggering events or loud noises.

However, if your cat has generalized anxiety, it might require regular medication rather than any over-the-counter supplements. Your vet will craft a treatment plan. It may take between 4 and 6 weeks before these medicines start to show effect.

In addition to the cat anxiety medication, you can also use other products such as CBD oil, calming beds, or diffusers that release pheromones to relax your cat and promote overall wellness.

Calm CBD Soft Chews for Cats

This custom blend of relaxing ingredients is paired with a full-spectrum hemp oil and will help your cat with:

  • Maintaining calmness
  • Behavioral problem management
  • Promoting a healthy brain function

Can You Take Cat Anxiety Meds With Other Medications?

Can You Take Cat Anxiety Meds With Other Medications

Anti-anxiety medications come with certain side effects. Also, when using a cat anxiety medication, in conjunction with other drugs, there is a possible risk of interactions.

Always inform your vet about all the meds your cat is taking. This includes over-the-counter herbs, supplements, and vitamins.

For instance, MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors), a class of meds used to treat cognitive dysfunction in cats, target similar neurotransmitters as TCAs (tricyclic antidepressants). As a result, they should not be used together as this can increase serotonin to dangerous levels.