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August 10, 2012 10:36 PM   Subscribe

Really? Prozac for the cat? You can't be serious! Halp!

Our Sweet Sweet Maggie seems to have a stress/anxiety issue. When ever we go away or get something new in the house Maggie pees somewhere other than her litter box.

For example, this summer we went camping for a week and had a friend stay at our place with the cats. At some point while we were away Maggie peed in the bathtub (at least once, possibly more). Then when we returned she continued to pee in the tub. (We know that peeing in the tub is just about the best place for her to go if she's not going to use the litter box but the tub is a new thing, she's gone in my purse and on our duvet, laundry etc.) We got a urine sample and had the vet test it. Everything came back normal and the verdict was that the issue is behavioural. We have been away again a couple of times, once for a week and once for two days and the problem started up again each time. This has been a problem for the last two to three years. It happens every time we go on vacation and sometimes when new noisy things come into the house. The bread maker is not her friend.

The vet has suggested using Prozac to get a handle on Maggie's stress. This at first seemed insane to us. But we have been thinking about for the last few weeks and honestly don't know what to do.

Maggie is also rather over weight, she has a lot of anxiety around food because of things that happened when she was a kitten. So besides helping with the peeing issue we are hoping it might calm her down so that she isn't so obsessed with her food.

Some concerns:
It will cost about $40/month.
Maggie is only 4 and is an indoor cat so we expect her to have a very long life. Do we want to have her on medication for the rest of her life?
Side effects?

We have two litter boxes for our two cats and a Feliway diffuser. Neither has made a difference with the peeing issue. The other cat Bergamot has used the litter box without fail. Maggie and Bergamot adore each other.

So I guess what we are wondering is if anyone has had a cat on Prozac. Did it work? Was it worth it?
posted by sadtomato to Pets & Animals (30 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
How old is Maggie? Has the vet tested for hyperthyroidism? That's often a cause of peeing in weird places.
posted by tully_monster at 10:46 PM on August 10, 2012

Sorry--I missed that you said Maggie was 4. But maybe you should have her tested for hyperthyroidism anyways. Just to make sure it's not a health problem, rather than a psychological problem.
posted by tully_monster at 10:48 PM on August 10, 2012

My stupid cat is on Prozac for peeing and anxiety. It has helped, not 100%, and it's a pain in the ass and expensive. We're gonna keep him on it for a while in the hopes that it really cures his peeing issue.
posted by tristeza at 10:52 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

My good friend has a cat that she and husband were seriously considering rehoming because of chronic pee problems when they went away or otherwise displeased the cat. Kitty prozac has totally reformed the cat and made him into a model citizen.
posted by charmedimsure at 10:54 PM on August 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Our dog, a three-year-old, obviously traumatized rescue, is on clomipramine (also a psychotropic, but a different family.) She's on in permanently, but it has taken her from being a nervous, neurotic, anxious little monster to a very manageable (if still kinda neurotic) sweetheart. I regret taking as long as we did to get her on medication, especially considering I take medication myself. It very, very obviously improved her quality of life, and ours.
posted by griphus at 10:57 PM on August 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Alsi, it's expensive but worth every penny just to come home, check the recording we made of her, and see that she didn't bark at all (as opposed to bark for two, three hours straight.) If this works for your cat, you will probably be quite glad for the conspicuous absense of cat pee.
posted by griphus at 11:00 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

You can probably find it cheaper.

I am looking into this for one of my cats, because I have several friends who've had good results with theirs, but I'm trying a second Feliway diffuser first, because I'm just not sure the first one gets enough coverage to really help completely.
posted by gracedissolved at 11:17 PM on August 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

You can definitely find it cheaper. Walgreens has a pet meds program where you pay about $20/year and then you're basically in a group buying program. My dog's Prozac is about $10 for a three month supply.
posted by judith at 11:27 PM on August 10, 2012 [8 favorites]

My cat had pee problems and took it for about a year. Since ceasing the medication the pee problem has not come back.

I had tried everything else and the cleaning products and dry cleaning was expensive.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 12:28 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

If the pill is not going to happen (the festive chasing! The delightful biting!) you can probably get a fluoxetine suspension cream from a compounding pharmacy. You rub it on their ears. You're supposed to use gloves to apply it, but if you don't, maybe you'll care a little less about your fucking cats peeing everywhere.*

posted by chesty_a_arthur at 2:47 AM on August 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

You need another litter box - the rule is number of cats + 1 = number of litter boxes. And they all need to be in separate areas.
posted by DoubleLune at 4:24 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

My rabbit takes Prozac for anxiety. It does sound insane. But it is 100% worth it because now she's a happy bunny who acts normally, and not a crazy wound-up bunny who pees on things and growls at you constantly.

For anyone who is wondering, yes, she is spayed, and yes, she is a rescue. And yes, we did check for everything and try everything first--full blood panels, better training, the whole nine yards. Prozac was the last resort but by golly is it helpful.

It probably shouldn't be the first thing you try, but don't write it off.
posted by epanalepsis at 6:01 AM on August 11, 2012

You can probably find it cheaper.

Note that the dose for a cat is 2-5mg per day, so you would have to subdivide those pills.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 6:05 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

A warning that Feliway does not work for all cats. I recently plugged in a diffuser thinking it would lower my cat's toddler anxiety. Nope. The peeing in the tub started almost immediately. This thread is making me think of asking the vet for meds - no pee would be totally worth it. Thanks for posting the question!
posted by PorcineWithMe at 6:14 AM on August 11, 2012

The vet has suggested using Prozac to get a handle on Maggie's stress. This at first seemed insane to us. But we have been thinking about for the last few weeks and honestly don't know what to do.

Why? Your cat is a mammal with a complex brain, similar in many ways to ours, and lacking (AFAIK) only a single type of neural cell ours has. All structures are the same, differing mostly in size.

This is no different from giving your cat antihistamines for am allergy problem or painkillers after surgery. The advantage is that this is an incidental, as-needed usage, and not a daily/constant need, so you are merely helping her with a biochemical response with a medium-priced pill (in generic form) once in a while.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:17 AM on August 11, 2012 [6 favorites]

Our cat got Prozac to treat a stress related over-grooming problem that started when we brought another cat in the house. However, I had to beg my vet to go that route. We had already spent about $1000 on several go rounds of tests and antibiotics, and our poor little Sammy was living in a cone for months. The vet still thought there were things to be "ruled out" but those additional tests were going to cost a lot more than giving Prozac a try. Sammy acted kind of stoned for the first 10 days, but then normalized. And it totally cured the problem. Almost immediately. I think we kept him on it for about 3 months... until the area was fully healed and all the fur had grown back in. And like others said... it was cheaper than you quote. We picked it up out our local pharmacy for $10 (I think we got generic). And as others mentioned you aren't giving your cat a human dose, I think we were giving ours a quarter of a pill twice a day.
posted by kimdog at 6:18 AM on August 11, 2012

My cat has some weird food issues, as well, and he's been a chronic right-outside-of-the-litter-box eliminator. The vet put him on feline anxiety meds a few weeks ago. I can't say it's been like night and day, but he does seem to have calmed down quite a bit. No side effects. The only annoying thing is that I have to grind up his pills and he prefers to eat his sister's food to avoid the pills.
posted by anotheraccount at 6:19 AM on August 11, 2012

My mother's late lamented Molly was on Prozac. She had no pee or poop issues, but was Psycho Kitty. The Prozac helped a bit and it was given in liquid form.
Sorry there are no photos of her, but we burned them all as part of the healing process. She was truly that psycho.
posted by pentagoet at 7:11 AM on August 11, 2012

My parents recently put a cat on Prozac and its been a miracle cure. The only down side is that the cat gets frothy at the mouth (normal according to the vet for some cats). Now they have a happy social cat that isn't destructive. I'd do it in a minute regardless of cost.
posted by blaneyphoto at 7:54 AM on August 11, 2012

Why on earth would you think this was insane? Your cat needs help, this is one way to help her, would you feel the same way if she needed insulin for diabetes?

It works really, really well for many animals (one of my dogs is on it). But you can definitely find it cheaper, just get a script for fluoxetine and buy it from a pharmacy if your vet can't source it for you at a lower cost.
posted by biscotti at 8:43 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

My parents' cat has been on Prozac (for years) to stop inappropriate peeing. They say it does help, but has not completely eliminated the problem.
posted by belladonna at 8:43 AM on August 11, 2012

Note that you might be able to avoid the festive chasing and delightful biting by rolling the pill in a little sour cream. Hold it above the cat's head so they have to pop up on their hind legs to get it, that way they can't just lick the sour cream off. My last cat would beg for her pill every morning thanks to this trick...
posted by vorfeed at 9:47 AM on August 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

We put our two kitties on Prozac a few years ago in a last-ditch effort to help them get along. The vet was giving me and my roommate instructions on the dosage and told us that if half a pill was too much, we could go down to a quarter pill.

"How will we know if it's too much?" I asked.

"Have you ever see Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" [Makes drunk, angry face, holds pretend martini glass, sort of slurs, stumbles around.] "You'll know!"

(The Prozac did not have the desired effect of helping them get along, but it did make them both drool like crazy because they hated the pill taste.)
posted by Charity Garfein at 9:53 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Just wanted to chime in that you can get it much cheaper. Prozac is available generic. Get your vet to write a prescription, then go to your local chain drug store and sign up for their "prescription savings club" (or whatever they call it). There will probably be like a $25 annual fee but then each refill will be about $10.
posted by radioamy at 9:55 AM on August 11, 2012

Best answer: The high price is almost certainly the cost of compounding the small dose. Get 10 mg tabs and a pill splitter, and you're good to go for a fraction of the cost.

I think everybody I know with cats, and at least half the people I know with dogs, have had at least one animal on fluoxetine at some point.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:45 PM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Our 12-year-old cat has been on Prozac for three years after I drug my feet for a couple if years - for misplaced aggression issues. It's worked pretty well for us. It's a capsule filled with powder that we mix into a bite of wet food. We're down to half the original rise. We get it from the vet and it costs a third or fourth what you were quoted.
posted by Occula at 7:01 PM on August 11, 2012

If you do try Prozac for Maggie (what a sweet face! well, maybe not "sweet" for photo 3) please be sure to give her some food and/or water immediately after pilling her. Not doing so puts her at risk of erosive esophagitis. (Luckily this is one of those "knowing is half the battle" conditions.)
posted by Lexica at 7:25 PM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've known several dogs and cats who were helped by prozac and I wouldn't hesitate to use it if I had a cat in this situation.
posted by Melsky at 1:20 AM on August 12, 2012

There is a natural flower based liquid that you can use called "Rescue Remedy" that helps with stressed pets. I have used it for my cat a couple of times and it seemed to take the edge of his stress. They make it for humans too, but there is a specific blend made for pets. I got mine at a natural foods place. Whole Foods has the people variety but, I am not sure about the pet kind.
I went this route because my cat does not take meds well, even in those pill pockets, and that whole process just stressed us both out, which seemed counterintuitive.
Best of luck to you.
posted by bookshelves at 9:09 PM on August 12, 2012

I've not had any cats on Prozac myself, but I don't see a problem with administering it if it helps. Seems worth a try, at any rate -- and if it works, it's quite possible that your cat will *not* need to be on it for the rest of her life, as cats are creatures of habit and if the medication helps her establish good habits she might maintain them later on even if the meds are tapered off.

That said, she might still have litterbox aversion issues that are manageable most of the time but get kicked into high gear when you're out of town.

There are a few things you can try, if you haven't already: i.e., if you're using only covered boxes, you might try uncovering at least one of them. Some cats like the privacy of covered boxes, but others dislike not having 360-degree visibility while doing their business. It's well worth finding out what your cats' preferences are in this regard. These days I only use gigantic plastic storage containers as litterboxes. I cut a small dip in one end for easy access, and the result is a wonderful cat-friendly latrine that simultaneously provides excellent scatter-containment and visibility for the cat using it.

Scented litter can be another culprit: many cats hate perfumey smells, and even if they use the flowery-smelling litter most of the time, separation anxiety might still push them over the edge into "do not want" territory. There are many unscented litters out there in a variety of substrate choices, ranging from clay to wheat to corn to silicone. IMO they actually seem to control odors better than scented litters. All the scented litters I've seen in use have this weird tendency to exacerbate the pee-ammonia odor like whoah. Litterbox liners are another thing many cats dislike, as their claws can get stuck in them.

Oh and litterbox location can also be an issue for many cats. Boxes right next to each other doesn't really achieve the desired end of providing multiple territorial landmarks; ideally the boxes should be in different rooms (or parts of the dwelling) entirely.

...so, yeah, good luck and definitely don't be afraid to try the meds...it'll either help or it won't, and with proper tapering it can be safely withdrawn if the need arises.
posted by aecorwin at 4:08 PM on August 14, 2012

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