Can cats have Type A personalities?
July 14, 2010 7:21 PM   Subscribe

Cat owners share your wisdom please! Anybody tried homeopathic remedies (i.e., Composure Cat Chews) for managing anxious behaviors?

My cat apparently is prone to stress. This triggers UTI's, which cost me a lot of money, and lead to litter box non-compliance. We tried anafranil (an antidepressant) which did seem to result in a happier cat. She was less aggressive to my other cat, appeared more relaxed and resumed using the cat box appropriately.

However, medication time was upsetting for her and difficult for me. I'd rather not have to dose her once a day. On one hand I want her to be as happy as possible, and dosing her with some apparently vile tasting liquid seemed counter-productive. I'm not interested in doping up my cat for my convenience, but rather to help her live a happier life and better cope with stressors such as visitors or furniture movements. We've tried Feliway in the past as well, which seemed to have no effect.

Enter the Composure Cat Chew. My vet recommended it to me. My girlie loves the taste, and this is a cat who won't stoop to eating those garbagey Pounce treats. Its seemed to help, but she's simultaneously being treated for the UTI, so it might just be she's no longer in pain that is affecting her behavior.

Before I continue to give it to her (and spend the money for another packet) I'd love to hear any reviews or similar products you've tried. I'm somewhat skeptical about "homeopathic" remedies, given the varying level of empirical support, but as long as it doesn't cost an arm and a leg and it seems reasonable I'd consider trying other ideas too. Any behavioral solutions for coping better with stress (I've done the litterbox compliance changes already) would be fun to try as well.
posted by gilsonal to Pets & Animals (21 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
This is sort of like saying you started seeing a psychic, and also a financial planner, and now you have more money, so you're asking for recommendations for other psychics.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:28 PM on July 14, 2010 [3 favorites]

Why not paxil or prozac for cats?
posted by TheBones at 7:31 PM on July 14, 2010

If I have to put my cat in her carrier, I spray a lot of Pet Ease on a towel that goes in carrier. It is insane how well it works on my cat. My vet has asked "is this the same cat?" after I started using it. It was like $5 at Petsmart.

Feliway plugins are great too. I bought that due to recommendations on previous AskMes. It's kinda pricey but it works pretty well.

My cat is like a Type A++ and needs lots anti-anxiety stuff. Poor little pumpkin.
posted by Hop123 at 7:32 PM on July 14, 2010

Homeopathy has never cured anything because for it to do so would violate the laws of physics as humanity understands them. Well, that and they've never done anything in a clinical trial.

You're clearly very concerned about your cat; your alternatives are to spend the money outright on some substance, device, or other tool that works on your vet's recommendation, or to spend that money later and waste time and money on demonstrably worthless things in the interim. Good luck.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:33 PM on July 14, 2010

if i find a product and a google search only returns ways for me to buy it instead of people talking about it, i assume i've been taken in by marketing.
posted by nadawi at 7:33 PM on July 14, 2010

I would find a new vet, because homeopathy is bullshit, and, as a medical professional, your vet should know better. Even considering the placebo effect, it only works if you think you're ingesting medicine, and your cat doesn't think that.
posted by crunchland at 7:34 PM on July 14, 2010 [6 favorites]

In a quick look at the products and manufactures web sites I didn't see the word Homeopathy used at all, and the stuff does contain some ingredients in real amounts. Sometimes, in the US where there are no real Homeopaths pretending to practice medicine, the word is used as a ten dollar word for many herbal, alternative ingredients, and many of those do have real (if minor) effects.

The cat chews look like they have a tea extract in them. If it's working, then it is working, but I'd try feliway or something like that if I were you.
posted by Some1 at 8:10 PM on July 14, 2010

For some cats, happiness comes not in a nasty liquid, but a pill. A pill like amitriptyline or Prozac, one that can be coated with yummy butter and popped down the hatch.

I have a cat (the root of all evil, some may remember) that has chronic UTI's. I was able to get a ultrasound of her kidneys, and she has calcifications on the upper portion, which cause chronic inflammation and fairly regular UTIs. I had a vet, like yours, that would recommend all sorts of homeopathic crap. And it didn't work. Because my cat has kidney crust that cannot be removed. So...I keep track of signs, and she gets Baytril as needed (at the slightest indication).

Instead of spending money on designer kitty crack, your money would be better spent on a vet that knows how to manage this sort of thing.

My cats love the "garbagey" Pounce treats. But maybe they're just furry hillbillies, and the Pounce treats are like Twinkies or Ding Dongs or something. There is some difference in certain brands in terms of quality. But when it comes down to it, most kitty treats are made out of slurry. And cats love it. You are just buying designer slurry.
posted by bolognius maximus at 8:21 PM on July 14, 2010

We did try Feliway with no success, and the one antidepressant we tried was rejected for taste, she drooled most of it away, sadly.

It appears that people seem taken aback by my off handed mention of homeopathy. This is not advertised as a homeopathic remedy, but is a supplement. It includes B1, L-Theanine, a amino acid shown to have effects on stress in humans and a trademark "calming compound". Had I realized that homeopathic was such a trigger word I would have not included it in my question I suppose.

It was presented to me by my vet as a product that had been helpful for some pets in the past but that she was unsure of its actual value. I figured, for eight bucks it was worth a try, since liquid medication clearly isn't working for us.

I would still be interested in what others have tried in similar situations, rather than simply being called a fool because I consider using something based on my vets recommendation. As I was asking *because* I remain skeptical, I don't feel as if comments such as Tomorrowful's are productive. Thanks.
posted by gilsonal at 8:22 PM on July 14, 2010

Regarding dosing the cat, is it possible to get this drug as a transdermal? I have one cat who will take ANY pill/liquid we offer him, because, "SWEET! FOOD!" and I had another cat, with frequent UTIs, who wouldn't take anything and if we sat with him long enough to ensure he didn't puke the pills up, would still puke up whatever was in his stomach for spite as soon as we left him alone. Anyway, MOST of the drugs we had to give him were able to be made up transdermally, which meant we put on a finger condom and rubbed it on his ear, where blood vessels are close to the surface. He thought this was super-awesome special pettings. The compounding pharmacy at the local people hospital could put these together for us. It cost a little more than getting his drugs in "standard" form directly from the vet, but was definitely worth the extra couple of dollars.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:33 PM on July 14, 2010

Homeopathy does not mean what you think it means. Please educate yourself.

Your vet is fine. The chews are not homeopathic. "Homeopathic" does not mean "natural" or "holistic." It means a specific, horseshitty thing. Seriously, look into it, if only so that you never mistake homeopathic products for legitimate medicine in the future. The practice almost makes astrology look reasonable by comparison.

If your vet had, in fact, recommended a homeopathic product then Tomorrowful and crunchland would have been right on the money.
posted by zjacreman at 8:56 PM on July 14, 2010 [10 favorites]

Had I realized that homeopathic was such a trigger word I would have not included it in my question I suppose.

The reason is because homeopathy has a very specific meaning. It's a very involved process of manufacturing bullshit products that contain literally no active ingredients. It isn't related to "natural" or "herbal" medicine at all, but plenty of people don't realize this, through no fault of their own, because it pays homeopathic vendors to make this issue confusing for consumers.

People answering this question want you to have a good experience and solve your problem, and part of that is making sure that you don't waste your money buying something with literally no value.
posted by odinsdream at 8:58 PM on July 14, 2010 [3 favorites]

That being said, the product you linked to is not homeopathic. It contains actual ingredients and chemicals, which is much more than can be said of homeopathic products.
posted by odinsdream at 9:01 PM on July 14, 2010

A compounding pharmacy might be able to make up the prescription meds in a flavored liquid (or pill, or paste) that the cat will find more palatable. Then it could be a treat instead of a chore.

I realize cats can be much more difficult about these things, but since I started mixing canned food in with their kibble, my dogs are SO much easier to pill. I just stick the pill in the canned stuff and they scarf it down without noticing. This is delightful when there's three of them and each gets at least 2 pills twice a day. So if your cat would eat a pill stuffed in a chunk of cat food, or you could get a powder to sprinkle over/mix in the food, that would probably help. But cats can be more picky about stuff in their food.
posted by galadriel at 9:12 PM on July 14, 2010

I have tried many things, and NaturVet Quiet Moments Calming Spray for cats and for dogs has worked pretty well. It was the only thing that worked at all for our Anxious Cat after Asthma Cat started terrorizing her. I suggested it to the rescue people, too, because it alone worked from the 450 things I tried to get the cats to like each other again. It did not stop Asthma Cat from menacing Anxious Cat, though, so Anxious Cat now has a new home (with one of the people who work at the rescue - I knew that would happen as soon as I met the lady :).

The dog version of the spray also helps my Anxious Dog, but I now give him something by the same company with nearly the same name in pill form once a day as the spray going everywhere made Unflappable Dog a little intoxicated with too much unflappability.

This spray smells nice and is very inexpensive. If you have an older cat that yowls, I recommend this spray for that, too.
posted by AllieTessKipp at 9:23 PM on July 14, 2010

Please don't waste your money on homeopathic remedies. The Composure Cat Chew does not appear to be homeopathic. So go ahead and give them to your cat. I know cats who take Prozac and it helps them. I had a dog that liked a drink now and then, but I don't think that works with cats.
posted by fifilaru at 10:32 PM on July 14, 2010

We did try Feliway with no success, and the one antidepressant we tried was rejected for taste, she drooled most of it away, sadly.

Out of curiosity, which type of delivery method of Feliway did you try? We tried the version that goes on as a collar, and the results were... um.. not stunning. (Picture a whirling dervish of teeth and claws directed at removing the interloper that is hooked to its own neck) But, the aerosol mister that you plug in was a godsend--we stuck it between the two couches where ours was peeing overnight, and the behavior stopped immediately. It also made our previously-antisocial cat seek attention from us occasionally, which was slightly disconcerting, because part of me still thinks it's an elaborate ruse and she's getting ready to spring the trap any day now.
posted by Mayor West at 5:12 AM on July 15, 2010

You said you've done "litterbox compliance changes already," so I'm curious what you mean by that? If one of the cat's issues is territorial issues around the litterbox, have you tried adding a second box? Or cleaning the current box more frequently?
posted by bcwinters at 6:16 AM on July 15, 2010

My dog is on prozac for anxiety (which caused a licking ocd, which was leading to open sores). Apparently the prozac has a bitter taste so they don't like it, but i hide it in peanut butter and he swallows it just fine (for cats, maybe try something else delicious and treat-like, but something they can just lick and swallow and not have to chew). Masking the taste and texture is the important part -- maybe try the antidepressants again and ask your vet if it's ok to hide it in the composure cat chew.

We have also used ComfortZone DAP (dog version of Feliway) and didn't see any improvement.

It's different for dogs obviously, but he's less anxious when he's had a lot of exercise (mainly because he's just exhausted). I'm not suggesting you take your cat out on a leash, but maybe give her active toys so that she's using her brain more throughout the day. Or try getting a second cat.
posted by melissasaurus at 7:16 AM on July 15, 2010

Seconding making sure you have a second litter box. Each cat should, in theory, have his or her own box to use. Of course they'll both end up using both boxes, but having one per cat seems to cut down on territory issues.

You also say she stresses out with "visitors and furniture moves." Maybe she just needs to be alone during those times, shut up somewhere safe and quiet. When the visitor leaves or when the furniture is moved, open the door and go about your business without fussing over her. She'll come out when she feels safe and she'll explore on her own. We have one kitty who does this on her own. She's scared of strangers and will take cover under our bed upstairs until the house is quiet again and then she's all lovey and attention-whorey.
posted by cooker girl at 7:24 AM on July 15, 2010

I have done months-long medical rehab for two formerly feral cats (one with a spiral fracture from a car accident and one with a spay failure) and had a couple of medically compromised dogs, so I've done a lot of pet dosing. Liquids are best accepted by cats when squished into a bit of attractive wet food or that Whiskas Cat Milk stuff, but only enough to make it a treat and that they won't wander away from halfway through.

For pills? Greenies Pill Pockets. Hands down the easiest way to get a pill into a cat that I've ever tried.
posted by catlet at 4:41 PM on July 15, 2010

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