Cyproheptadine for Cats

Cyproheptadine is an unusual drug in veterinary medicine in that it is primarily prescribed for one of its side effects, not for its targeted purpose. This medicine is an example of an antihistamine, or a drug that helps to reduce allergic reactions. However, cyproheptadine tends to not be as effective at this goal as many other types of antihistamine medications are when used in cats. Instead, veterinarians and pet owners oftentimes use it as a way to stimulate a cat's appetite, because that is one of the major side effects of the medicine.

Cyproheptadine Overview

Like other antihistamines, cyproheptadine works to block the histamine chemicals that are created in your pet's body when he is exposed to an allergy. This medicine will cause histamine H-1 to not be able to attach to receptors in your pet's system, thereby preventing the chemical from causing inflammation, swelling, itchiness and other symptoms of an allergic reaction. While it does this, cyproheptadine also works to block serotonin from attaching to receptors as well. It is believed that this anti-serotonin property of the medicine is the one that works to stimulate a cat's appetite.

This medicine is approved for use in humans only and is typically provided as the brand name drug Periactin. The FDA has not approved the use of Periactin in pets, but veterinarians can still prescribe the medicine as an extra label drug in certain cases.

Using Cyproheptadine for Your Cat

Cyproheptadine is available either as a tablet or as a syrup. In most cases, people find that the tablet is easier to deliver to a cat, though the exact method of dosage will be dependent upon your pet and his individual personality. Because the dosing of cyproheptadine is different if you're intending to increase your pet's appetite than it would be if you were attempting to treat an allergic reaction, it's important that you follow your vet's instructions carefully to be sure that you provide your pet with the accurate amount of medicine.

Typically, cyproheptadine is provided in doses between 1 and 4 milligrams per day for a cat. The dosage depends upon your cat's size, weight, and other medical issues.

Side Effects and Risks of Cyproheptadine

Cyproheptadine is found to be very safe for use in cats. However, if your cat suffers from organ damage or failure, glaucoma, or certain other preexisting medical conditions, cyproheptadine may exacerbate these problems. It's important therefore to tell your vet about any other medical issues that may be going on before you give your cat cyproheptadine.

The most common side effect of cyproheptadine is sedation. If your pet has too much of the medicine, it's likely that he'll become lethargic and may be sedated for a period of several hours or longer. If you suspect that you've provided your cat with an overdose, consult with your veterinarian for more information about the dosage and how to treat your pet properly.