Amitriptyline for cats

In this article, we will look at amitriptyline, a medication your veterinarian may have prescribed for your cat. Specialty Care Pharmacy has many dosing options available for your cat’s specific needs.

What is Amitriptyline?

Amitriptyline is a tricyclic behavior modifier and was used for many years in people as an “anti-depressant.” Surprisingly, it is used to treat a variety of problems in cats. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help decrease discomfort and pain associated with certain medical conditions.

Your veterinarian may prescribe amitriptyline if your cat suffers from:

- Difficulty urinating

- Bladder infections or inflammation (lower urinary tract disease)

- Itchy skin

- Neurologic pain

- Behavioral issues, such as inter-cat aggression

When a new cat is adopted into your home, sometimes resident cats have a hard time adjusting. Some of this ‘adjustment’ may result in aggressive behavior between cats. These types of issues are typical growing pains during the first couple of weeks, but if the aggression is severe or lasts for more than a couple of months, then medication may be necessary to help ease the transition.

Amitriptyline can help decrease aggressive behavior between cats and can help treat unwanted behaviors such as urine spraying, urinating or defecating outside of the litter box. Behavioral modification (training, environmental changes and pheromone therapy) paired with medication is often the best way to address aggression.

Cats with chronic urinary tract problems can benefit from amitriptyline. This drug helps to prevent the urgency to “go” by decreasing “spastic” movements by the bladder. This makes your cat much more comfortable while he heals.

Some cats can ‘over-groom’ parts of their bodies, such as the paws, forearms and belly. This over-grooming can be a response to allergic dermatitis (itchy skin), joint pain or stress. Amitriptyline can help to decrease the “itchiness” of the skin and can also help decrease the behavior.

Side effects to be aware of:

- Sedation

- Diarrhea

- Vomiting

- Excess salivation

- Increased heart rate

Amitriptyline must be given daily and can take 2-4 weeks to see a change in behavior.

Depending on your cat’s specific needs, your veterinarian may recommend bloodwork prior to and after starting amitriptyline.

Compounding your cat’s amitriptyline prescription is a great way to make sure he is getting the dose he needs. This medication is very bitter in taste and owners have struggled to give cats conventional pills. Cats can be harmed by amitriptyline if overdosed using cut pills, so you can have peace of mind when using our compounded transdermal cream or oral suspension.

Our oral suspension comes in a variety of flavors that will tempt your cat’s taste buds. Ask us today about flavors available for oral amitriptyline. You don’t have to worry about giving oral medication at all – we offer a transdermal gel “cream” that can be applied to your cat’s ear.


1. Norsworthy, Gary, et al. The Feline Patient. Third Edition. Chapter 179 – IntercatAgression. Deborah F. Horwitz. p. 408-411.
2. Plumb, Donald. Plumb’s Veterinary Drug Handbook. Eighth Edition. Amitriptyline HCl. p. 67-69.

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