Melatonin for Cats Uses And Potential Side Effects
Approved By: Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM
Certified Content. This article has been fact checked and verified by our veterinary adviser.
Is Melatonin for cats needed?
Natural melatonin is a hormone produced by a part in the brain called the pineal gland. Under normal conditions, this hormone tells the body when it's time to sleep and when it's time to get up.
Those with sleep problems may take melatonin supplements in the form of pills, liquids or chewables. Insomnia, sleep phase disorder and jet lag are all the most common ailments treated with melatonin but there are studies in the works on how well it can affect nighttime blood pressure, Alzheimer's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Odds are your cat sleeps twice as long as you do if not more. However, even the creature that coined the phrase “cat nap” can be too irritable and restless to relax. She might hate long distance travel even more than you do, jet lag being an absolute torture to a being adverse to any change. Elderly animals may have trouble staying asleep.
Cushing's disease and separation anxiety can be treated with melatonin. Veterinarians sometimes recommend melatonin for animals suffering hair loss. Could melatonin be right for your cat? You would have to discuss it with your veterinarian, but here are some points concerning the topic you might bring up.
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Uses of Melatonin for Cats
Cats suffering from anxiety, hair loss and sleep disorders are often treated with melatonin. Cats in stressful situations like traveling, being groomed or exposure to loud noises might be given melatonin on a short term basis.
Keep in mind that melatonin is a hormone replacement, not a drug. Thus, it is not regulated by the FDA, though it can be legally prescribed. For the most part, it's safe if administered correctly.
The typical dosage of melatonin for a cat is 0.5 to 0.8 mg by mouth every twelve hours. This can vary depending on your cat's weight and what she's being treated for.
Melatonin can also be used in training a cat not to be frightened by loud noises. This is done by playing a sound effects CD at gradually increasing volumes while feeding the cat melatonin laced treats. This method of behavior modification can accustom your cat to loud noises, thus reducing her anxiety triggered by them.
Side effects and contraindications
Headache, dizziness and crankiness are some of the side effects of melatonin. It can also cause stomach discomfort and depression. If your cat is taking an anticoagulant, immunosuppressant or diabetes medication, melatonin may not be suitable for her.
Natural melatonin (made from the pineal glands of other animals) can carry viruses so stick to synthetics if your cat must take a melatonin. It is not to be used by pregnant or lactating females.
One of the side effects is weight loss, which may be a side effect you want, depending on circumstances. Take note of how your cat responds to melatonin. If you think she's having an allergic reaction, take her to the vet right away.
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Best Melatonin Supplements For Cats
Melatonin marketed for human consumption usually comes in capsules containing 1 to 3 mg of melatonin. This is too strong for a cat. Here are some products manufactured for feline use.
NaturVet Quiet Moments Calming Aid Plus
This comes in the form of a chewable treat. It contains melatonin and ingredients such as thiamine, chamomile and tryptophan that will strengthen it. The recommended dose is two chews 30 minutes before a stressful situation.
Pros: This melatonin treatment is not only effective but affordable. Another ingredient is ginger, which will settle Kitty's stomach. It does not contain wheat products. Some cats like the taste so much you may have to keep it out of their reach. Of course, this will vary from one cat to another.
Cons: It won't do any good if you can't actually get it into her! Some cats just don't like chewy things. You may have to try the old bologna wrap trick. This product is not recommended for kittens under three months of age. This also seems to be formulated for short term use. If that's what you're looking for, this could be the product. Otherwise, keep looking.
Nature's Miracle Just for Cats Calming Spray
If your cat just refuses to swallow capsules and tablets and doesn't like the texture of chewables, maybe this spray is what you need. You just spray it wherever your cat likes to retreat to when stressed. You can spray it on the inside of a carrier if travel is what stresses her.
Pros: It's very easy to use. You don't even have to get Kitty to eat it! The effects are comparatively long lasting. The extra ingredients are natural extracts from flowers, herbs and seeds. It's safe to use around children and other pets.
Cons: It can be hard to tell just how much you're spraying. It can cause irritation if it gets into your cats eyes or an open wound, but it can easily be cleaned off with soap and water.
If your cat has sleep disorder or suffers uncontrollable nervousness, melatonin supplements might be right for your cat. It may also be useful if your cat has problems with their weight or hair loss. Never use medicines designed for human consumption on your cat as it may be too strong for her.
Melatonin for cats comes in tablets and capsules, though a chewable might be the preferred method. Sprays are also useful since you only need to get your cat to sniff it. Just remember to start with a small dose and keep tabs on Kitty's reactions. Discuss the situation with your veterinarian and ensure a full disclosure on both sides.
Lastly, another good calming spray is Feliway spray. While this doesn't contain any melatonin, it does help with stressful situations.
Can melatonin be given to cats?
These tablets are commonly used for sleep and behavior disorders in cats and dogs, but can also be used to treat hair loss in dogs and to control fertility in sheep, goats, horses, and other animals. When giving your pet melatonin, it is important to give the medication as directed.
Is melatonin harmful to cats?
Melatonin is commonly used as a sleep aid, and is sometimes used to treat certain hair disorders, cognitive dysfunction and separation anxiety in dogs, as well as sleep cycle disorders in dogs and cats. Generally, it is very safe, with lethargy and stomach upset being a potential issue in cases of overdose.
Is melatonin safe for pets?
While melatonin is regarded as safe for most dogs, it's still important to talk to your veterinarian before administering it to your pet. Dosage will depend on the size of the dog and his sensitivity to the drug. The biggest side effect to melatonin is drowsiness.
Can I give my cat melatonin?
It is not regularly used in dogs and cats, and pet parents should be careful when using products containing this substance around their pets. Melatonin is a natural hormone that regulates wakefulness.