medication for cat anxiety kitten under a bed sheet

Medication for Cats with Anxiety: Is it the Answer?

Using cat anxiety medication is a valuable tool to consider when you are dealing with an anxious cat. But there are pros and cons to this approach.

Cats, like humans and other pets, can suffer from anxiety. Cats appear to be primarily unpredictable in their behavior because their communication methods are usually too subtle for us to detect! They also rely heavily on pheromones to assess their surroundings. 

When your cat anticipates a probable danger or threat, they become anxious and seem to behave strangely. Even if your cat isn’t in any real danger, the impression of a threat can still trigger a reaction. This is when stress and anxiety start to take over.

Many cat owners see concerning signs of anxiety in their cats between the ages of five months and one year. However, anxiety can strike at any time. It’s critical to act quickly to reduce stress and manage your cat’s anxiety because your cat’s condition can worsen if it is not dealt with in a timely manner.

There are different approaches to soothe an anxious cat. Medication is just one of them. The benefits vs side effects debate of cat anxiety medicines has been going on for a long time and as yet, there is no unanimous conclusion. So, as the owner, it is up to you to make the decision based on your cats’ needs. 

How to treat anxiety in your cat

There are different approaches to tackling cat anxiety and each one has its own pros and cons. In this article, we will discuss the role of medication against cat anxiety. 

Depending on the severity, experts believe a multi-modal strategy combining behavioral modification approaches, natural soothing aids, and anti-anxiety medication, is the best way to manage most cases of anxiety in cats.

It’s best to start with the basics (such as behavioral modification) and then progress to medication if needed.

This article aims to provide you with some background on what anti-anxiety drugs can do and how they could fit effectively into a behavior modification strategy for your cat.

When should anti-anxiety medicines be used in cats?

treating cat anxiety anxious siberian cat

If you have tried all immediate solutions and the situation does not improve, you should discuss your cat’s case with your vet. They may prescribe certain medications that can help your cat to cope. 

In most cases, we think that medication should only be used as a last resort, without considering the harm that stress can cause. Cats that are suffering from stress are more likely to have behavioral disorders and health concerns. Prolonged stress can result in the worsening of existing problems and emergence of new ones. It’s unfair to subject your pet to unnecessary stress when a prescription can assist. If the medicine is used as a last option, your cat is likely to suffer from stress for a long time. 

Start with the most comprehensive plan to help your cat. Don’t wait for the situation to become severe. The sooner you identify and treat a problem, the better it will be.

Now in the case of drugs, two options are available: short-term acting drugs and long-term acting drugs. 

Firstly, you should use short-term drugs. Then if needed, use long-term medicines. Most kids do not like to take medication due to their bitter taste, it’s the same with animals! So, think carefully before you proceed. 

Why medication should be avoided in cases of cat anxiety

Just like any other drug, prolonged use of anti-anxiety medication can result in gastrointestinal problems. They may also affect the function of the liver and kidneys. Weaknesses of these vital organs show up as:

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

Drugs used to treat cat anxiety can cause genetic resistance in the feline family, which means you’ll need to increase the potency of the medication every time you use it to keep it effective. As a result, excessive drug use can make the situation worse over time.

If you decide to use medicine to treat your cat’s anxiety, it should be from an excellent or reliable pharmaceutical company, after a consultation with the vet. Here arises another problem for those pet owners who cannot afford expensive medication. So, before reaching any conclusion, be aware of your financial situation and act accordingly.

Another reason you may choose to avoid using medication is its mechanism of action. The whole purpose of medicine is not to change your cat’s personality, but to help them cope. But anti-anxiety medicines work directly on the brain by reducing feelings of stress and anxiety. So, if you use these drugs for an extended period, your pet is susceptible to developing side effects. 

After finding out the harmful effects of drugs, many people prefer to use more natural ways to solve the problem. These include:

  • Creating a secure environment for your cat
  • Keeping litter boxes out of confined spaces
  • Feeding each pet separately
  • Providing regular opportunities for exercise and play
  • Socializing your cat from the very beginning of life

All the above-listed methods can be a little bit time-consuming. However, they work wonders for your cat’s well-being! It helps if you are consistent and patient because it may take several months for any positive impact to be noticed. 

Role of Supplements & Natural Remedies

natural calming remedies for cats tallA large number of non-pharmaceutical stress-reduction alternatives are available. They are readily available over the counter. and many claim to be ‘natural’, but they aren’t always, so make sure you check the ingredients if you are looking for natural help.

Keep in mind that some of these products still produce side effects and are not always cost-effective (despite what they might say!). You should ensure you choose a trustworthy brand if you want to go down the natural remedy route. Most importantly, you must consult your vet before giving your cat any sort of medication; natural or otherwise. Feliway is a brand commonly recommended by veterinarians for cat stress and anxiety. 

Cat calming supplements and treats may help. NaturVet treats contain thiamine and L-tryptophan which are known to help reduce stress and tension. Another ingredient is ginger which supports sensitive stomachs, especially important when traveling! It also contains melatonin which helps to promote rest and relaxation.

Aside from medication, there are many other ways that you can help your cat feel relaxed, by making some simple changes in your home and routine. Spend regular time with your cat, play with them, and provide a safe haven in your home that your cat can escape to whenever they feel the need. These seemingly small actions have huge implications and your beloved feline companion will feel better. See our article on cat enrichment for more information.

In this article, we have shared both sides of the story and now we put the ball in your court. Remember, you should always consult your veterinarian regarding the use of medication for your cat against anxiety.


Ali Raza, Veterinarian DVM, MPhil Veterinary Pathology

Ali Raza, Veterinarian DVM, MPhil Veterinary Pathology

Ali is a passionate veterinarian and veterinary content writer. He ensures our articles are top-notch and include all the necessary information for the care of your cats. Ali completed the DVM in 2020 and is currently working on a Masters (MPhil) in Veterinary Pathology at the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences in Lahore, Pakistan. Ali loves using content writing as a way of communicating scientific information to pet owners for the benefit of cats, dogs and all pets and animals worldwide.