What is Amitriptyline for Cats?


You might not think of medications that were once used as antidepressants for humans as something that would eventually be prescribed for your cat, but it’s true. As a matter of fact, one such medication, amitriptyline, is now commonly prescribed by veterinarians to treat a whole host of conditions for your feline friends. The truth is, you might be surprised to learn just how many different potential conditions this drug is often prescribed to treat. If you want to know more about how it’s used, all you have to do is keep reading.

Human Anti-Depressants for Cats

There’s no doubt about it, human antidepressants can sometimes find a second life. This particular drug is a tricyclic, basically meaning that it was once used as a means of modifying the behavior of individuals who took it for depression. As better medications with fewer potential side effects eventually became available, this particular medication was slowly phased out, at least as far as most human use is concerned. However, it didn’t simply disappear. Instead, it found its way into the medicine cabinets of veterinarians, commonly prescribed to cats for various conditions. As it turns out, it’s not just a behavior modifier, but also a drug with a number of anti-inflammatory properties. That means that it can typically be effectively used in cats who are suffering from either excessive inflammation or the pain that often results from this type of thing. In short, it means that many veterinarians prescribe it for a number of different conditions.

Reasons Your Veterinarian Might Prescribe It

What are the reasons that your veterinarian might prescribe this particular medication for your cat? It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that it’s often used to modify a cat’s behavior, in much the same way that it was used to modify human behavior. When you’re talking about felines, it’s often one of the first medications prescribed when your cat is found to be overly aggressive toward you, other humans or even other animals. If you have ruled out environmental changes or any physical ailments that could specifically be causing the aggression, this is the drug that is most often prescribed because it is typically quite effective in modifying their behavior by making them less aggressive. In fact, its presence can go a long way toward allowing you to keep an otherwise aggressive cat in your household or being forced to give them up. That being said, aggression certainly isn’t the only reason that it’s used. As previously mentioned, it has a number of anti-inflammatory properties. As such, it’s commonly used for any type of urinary tract infection because it can reduce inflammation and alleviate the pain associated with it, without the need for additional medications in order to get the job done. Surprisingly, it’s also used for a lot of cats that have problems urinating. If you’re wondering why, it’s because the majority of these cats have difficulty urinating because there is inflammation present in that area of the body. The inflammation causes swelling and in turn, that swelling makes it difficult to urinate. Use of the medication can reduce the inflammation, thereby reducing the swelling and allowing the cat to urinate normally. You might also be surprised to learn that the drug can be used effectively for various other conditions such as skin rashes (again, by reducing inflammation), neurologic conditions and pain that’s caused by any type of inflammation, whether that’s because of a disease process or an injury.

Potential Side Effects

It should go without saying that every medication has potential side effects associated with it. Of course, this one is no different. As a matter of fact, there are several potential side effects that all cat owners need to be aware of and on the lookout for, especially if it’s the first time that this particular medication has been prescribed for their cat. These potential side effects include lethargy, increased sleep, digestive issues such as nausea, diarrhea and vomiting and even excessive salivation. It’s also not uncommon for your cat to have a markedly increased heartbeat while he is on this medication. More often than not, the majority of these side effects start to decrease after a few days. If your cat has been prescribed the medication before or is frequently on it, there may not be any indication of adverse side effects whatsoever. If they are present, they may not be significant enough to cause a problem. The idea is to watch your cat closely in the hours after giving those first few doses and make absolutely certain that there aren’t any issues which would require a trip to an emergency veterinarian. If you notice anything like some type of seizure activity, a heartbeat that is far too rapid, or difficulty breathing, don’t wait. Get your cat to an emergency veterinarian right away because his life could very well depend on how quickly you act. It’s not that this is a particularly dangerous medication, only that some cats have an adverse reaction to it, just as anyone can potentially have an adverse reaction to any type of medication. It should go without saying, but it’s also possible that your cat might be allergic to the medication. If your cat experiences an allergic reaction such as swelling or difficulty breathing, it is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. Of course, you should also call your regular veterinarian and let them know what’s going on as soon as possible, provided you can’t get your cat to their office. If you do have to go to an emergency clinic, make sure that you collect all the necessary paperwork and see that your regular veterinarian is fully aware of everything that has happened. It’s also best to make a follow-up appointment with him after a trip to the emergency clinic, just to make sure that everything is okay.

Effective Treatment for Separation Anxiety

You already know that this is a medication that can be effectively used to modify the behavior of an overly aggressive cat. What you might not fully realize is that it’s also effectively used to help treat cats who are suffering from various behavioral issues as a direct result of separation anxiety. Granted, that behavior can sometimes include aggressive behavior, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes it involves cats that hide and won’t come out, a refusal to eat as well as a desire to eat everything in sight (even non-food items), so on and so forth. Many cats that suffer from separation anxiety also urinate and defecate outside of their litter box. For them, these are all signs of stress. It’s not altogether different from the way that a lot of humans have certain behaviors that they only express when they’re stressed. The idea is to help your cat feel less stress as a result of being separated from you while you’re away from home during the day. If behavioral modification hasn’t worked and your cat is struggling to adapt, this is the medication that might be used successfully.

Treating Issues That are Resistant to Other Medications

It’s worth noting that this particular medication is also used during a number of instances where treating your cat with other, more traditional medications, simply isn’t working as well as it should be. Earlier, it was mentioned that the drug is sometimes used to help with skin rashes as well as urinary tract infections. Typically, other medications are prescribed first for these types of conditions, but they’re not always effective. If your veterinarian has already tried a number of medications to treat these issues and your cat is still experiencing problems, it isn’t at all uncommon to bring this particular medication on board as an add-on to work with other medications in an attempt to finally get control of the inflammation that’s causing the problem. The same is true for those cats who are in chronic pain as a direct result of some type of neurologic issue. Pain killers are tricky substances, whether you’re talking about an animal or a human being. They can be addictive and in animals, they tend to come with a number of digestive issues that can be potentially life-threatening, especially under severe circumstances. Since this particular medication is often used to treat digestive issues, it doesn’t have those same issues in most cats, although digestive problems can certainly be a side effect. If your cat has neurological pain and needs to be treated for a chronic condition, it’s not at all uncommon for your veterinarian to decide to bring this medication onboard as a means of treating that condition as safely as possible.

Using the Medication to Treat Obsessive Behavior

Since the medication is a tricyclic, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that it is sometimes prescribed to treat obsessive behaviors in cats. As a matter of fact, it’s often prescribed for both cats and dogs in this particular case. If your cat is constantly grooming himself and you’ve tried virtually everything else and failed to get any results, then this is a medication that could potentially work. It’s also worth noting that if your cat is obsessively grooming because of separation anxiety or depression, it would only stand to reason that your veterinarian might prescribe it since it’s capable of treating those things. By the same token, it is effective against the inflammation that is typically associated with various skin conditions, so it’s almost like killing two birds with one stone.

What if Your Cat Gets Too Much Medication?

Unfortunately, there is always the chance that you might accidentally give your cat an overdose of this (or any other) medication. This is especially true if you have a number of different people in your household who are responsible for making sure that you that your cat gets his medication. It’s very easy in these types of cases for one person to believe that the other has not given a dose and then give another, when in fact that dose was already given by the first individual. What happens if your cat overdoses on his medication? Typically, you’ll notice that your cat becomes very disoriented and may actually pass out. In addition, there’s likely to be a great deal of salivating, so much that it’s impossible to ignore. Last but certainly not least, an overdose of this medication can dramatically increase your cat’s heart rate, even to dangerous levels. If your cat is given an overdose, it’s imperative that you get him seen by a veterinarian right away, even if that means taking him to an emergency clinic as opposed to going to your regular veterinarian. As is the case with most overdoses, time is of the essence. The sooner you get your cat treated, the better his chances of survival will be.

By now, you’re probably a bit fearful about the idea of your cat taking this medication. The truth is, you shouldn’t be afraid of it at all. There is nothing about this drug that makes it more dangerous than anything else your veterinarian might prescribe. In fact, it’s actually tolerated by most cats very well. The truth of the matter is that every cat owner needs to be aware of potential issues that could occur as the result of giving any medication to their cat, and this one is no different. If you do have any concerns or you notice any type of behavior in your cat that concerns you, don’t be afraid to bring that up to your veterinarian. No one knows your cat better than you and you obviously have his best interest at heart. Since he can’t advocate for himself, it’s essentially your job to do exactly that.

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