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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 40719
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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Hi there. My 4 and a half year old Birman female neuter has

Customer Question

Hi there. My 4 and a half year old Birman female neuter has been on Clolicalm for the last six weeks to stop her spraying inside.she is3kg and has quarter of a tablet. It started over 18 months ago when we went on holiday for ten days leaving a neighbour to look after the cats . They know the neighbour well. This has followed us trying feliway, zylkene and ensuring there are plenty of resources over the last year. We have four Birmans - 2 girls and 2 boys - age range 2-7 yrs. There are five litter trays 3 downstairs, 2 upstairs. There are plenty of scratching and resting/ hiding places inside and out. The cats can go outside at will to our cat fenced garden. We have also walked them on harnesses outside to give added stimulation, but this often causes tension at the door( and spray) while they wait their turn, so we've eased off this. We have identified the problem is between the two girls and we have discussed re homing. Then, in the next minute the two girls will appear to be playing happily together . That's very confusing.Our vet has said to wean our girl, Cloud, off the clolicalm after a month. I am dreading this because I fear the worst. When we have been unable to get a tablet down her on the odd day, she has sprayed. I have also read that clolicalm should be used for three months before taking them off. Our cats are everything to us and I would be heartbroken to rehome Cloud, but I have got someone lined up if the worst happens. How long do you recommend keeping her on clolicalm? When we wean her off, if she starts to spray again is this the time to rehome her? Should she stay on the clolicalm as she moves to her new home and then let her be weaned off it there? We only want the best for her and this may mean letting her go to an only pet house hold. Very sad. Our vet is great. I'd just like to hear your thoughts as well. Thank you so much. Philippa
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 4 years ago.
Aloha! You're speaking with Dr. Michael Salkin
I have advanced training in feline behavior and I understand the challenge you have in managing Cloud - particularly because you have a multicat household. The following excerpt from my notes that I use when lecturing about this behavior contains my general guidelines and an overview for you concerning urine marking.

"Since individual responses to psychoactive drugs may vary considerably, owners should give the initial dose when they can be at home to observe the cat's behavior. The dosage may be adjusted up or down by 25% increments until the behavior is controlled without causing undue sedation. Response to treatment may take from a few days to a few weeks dependiing on the drug used. Two to four weeks after a cessation in spraying, an attempt should be made to slowly decrease the dosage by about 25% every two weeks. Some cats can be successfully weaned off medication, especially if the behavior program has been effectively implemented, while others require long-term maintenance with the lowest effective dose. (There's no hard and fast rule about a 3 month administration of clomipramine before stopping its administration.) Some cats maintained on long-term reduced dose therapy may ultimately show recurrence, perhaps associated with an increase in environmental stressors.

Recent success has been shown with either clomipramine or fluoxetine at 0.5mg/kg per day. In a small study of 17 cats, the cats on fluoxetine showed a significant improvement over placebo-treated cats. Although there were no control groups, two studies have shown a significant improvement with clomipramine. In one study of 25 cats, 84% showed an improvement of 75% or better over a one -week period. Amitriptyline (5-10mg/cat daily) has also been reported to be effective for treating urine marking but it's extremely bitter and hard to dose. Buspirone is another good choice at 2.5-7.5mg/cat every 12hours) with a reported efficacy of 55%."

Notice these percentages, however. Success is declared when we can reduce events to 25% of their frequency pre-drug administration. In other words, if my cat urinated on my pillow 12 times last month but only 3 times after psychotherapeutic drugs were administered, success is declared. Needless to say, that doesn't please me and so I always ask owners not to have unreasonable expectations when resorting to these drugs.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.