Treating Behavior Problems in Cats (cont.)

Can You Use Medication Instead of Behavior Modification?

Behavioral medication alone isn't usually enough to resolve behavior problems. Medication serves to reduce the emotional part of a situation, but it doesn't resolve the behavioral component. Once medication gets your cat's emotional reactions under better control, behavior modification can be used to change her behavior. For instance, if your cat is afraid of another cat in your home, she might not use the litter box because of her fear. Medication can help your cat be less reactive to the other cat-but it won't help her learn to use the litter box again.

Which Medicines Are Best for What?

For the most part, four types of behavioral medicines are used to treat behavior problems in cats. These medicines are benzodiazepines (BZs), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

The following table shows different cat behavior problems that have been successfully treated with a combination of medicine and behavior modification:

Behavior Problem

Medicine Type

General timidity

SSRI, TCA

Litter box problems caused by anxiety

BZ, TCA, SSRI

Urine marking

BZ, TCA, SSRI

Aggression

BZ, TCA, SSRI

Compulsive behavior, such as excessive grooming

SSRI, TCA

Cognitive dysfunction

MAOI