TITLE: When Kitty Sprays: Prozac for Cats
Written for Suite 101 online magazine
What do you do when your favored feline shows her displeasure by spraying urine in the house?
Many people respond by depositing kitty at the animal shelter. But for humans like me who
wouldn’t dream of abandoning their cat, a trip to the local hoosegow is not an option. So what to
do? Believe it or not, Prozac for your spraying feline may solve the behavior.
Previously litter-box trained cats often begin spraying around the house in response to medical
issues or emotional/mental stress. A cat can’t tell you when she suffers a kidney or bladder
infection, or when the introduction of anxiety into her life has sent her into meltdown mode;
that’s when urinating on your bed, in your closet, or a main room of your home is a fine way to
get your attention. Cats prefer to eliminate in their litter box, so when they suddenly eschew use
of their box, it’s a safe bet they’re sending you a message for help.
A visit to your vet will ensure your cat is not suffering from a medical condition. Once that
concern is off the table, a review of home circumstances will ensue to determine what
exacerbated the elimination problem. In the case of our 13-year-old Tabby, it was the addition of
a kitten into the household. But cats may also feel anxiety over a variety of changes in living
conditions, including moving, house guests (four-legged and otherwise), or even the loss of a
human companion or household pet. Will Prozac really stop my cat from spraying?
Prozac (fluoxetine) is largely used as an antidepressant for humans. But in recent years it has
been found to be highly effective in the treatment of spraying and other inappropriate behaviors
in cats such as:
OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), i.e. over-grooming or pulling out their hair for no
discernible (allergy or illness related) reason.
Inappropriate feline aggression. Anxiety or depression.
Anti-anxiety medications comprise the only class of drugs that have been proven successful for
combating feline urinary spraying. This is a clear indication that anxiety is the root cause for this
behavior. Is Prozac the only solution for my cat’s spraying?
While anxiety exacerbates this behavior, medication of your pet should be a last resort. Your first
line of defense will be to identify the source of stress for your cat. Examples include:
A multiple-cat household with too few litter boxes:
Be certain you have one box per cat,
and keep them clean. Cats will steer clear of unclean litter boxes.
Be considerate of your pet’s age. An elderly cat may have difficulty with
No love for the litter:
Cats have litter preferences. Just as you prefer one brand of
toothpaste over another, so your cat prefers the texture/scent of a particular litter. If you’ve switched brands, try returning to your old brand.
People who need privacy to urinate are sometimes referred to jokingly as “pee
shy.” Cats may share this tendency and require solitude to do their business.
Safe and secure:
Is your cat’s litter box in a comfortable, easy-to-access location? Or
does she have to navigate past an obstacle course of items, or worse, another unfriendly cat or dog?
Work with your veterinarian to determine the best treatment for your cat. While long term
medications such as Prozac are effective in solving the spraying problem, if you don’t determine
the underlying issue the behavior is likely to return when you discontinue the medication. Personal experience with Prozac for cats:
Our usually sanitary, 13-year-old Tabby began spraying, stressed by the introduction a 6-month-
old kitten my daughter rescued from a storm drain. After eliminating any medical cause, a month
long saga of behavioral and environmental modifications took place. Ultimately, Prozac was
prescribed to curb Tabby’s out-of-box activities. Within a week or two of beginning the Prozac,
the spraying stopped. Tabby has reverted to her former happy, stress-free personality. Prozac
eased her anxiety, curtailed the spraying, and returned to us our fastidious feline.
The best way to determine if Prozac will work for your cat is to contact your vet. Your cat’s
inappropriate behavior is a red flag that she needs your intervention. Is Prozac the answer? It just
might be. Sources:
The Cat Channel (online) “227 Secrets Your Cat Wants You to Know” by Paulette Cooper and Paul Noble
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