Practical feline behaviour understanding cat behaviour and improving welfare

(Axel Boer) #1

Advice for Veterinary Professionals 175

Table 11.2.

Examples of nutraceuticals* and herbal supplements that may aid behaviour therapy. (Adapted from DePorter

et al

., 2016.)


How does it work



Alpha CasozepineA nutraceutical derived from

casein, a protein in cow’s milk

Reported to have anxiolytic effects

similar to benzodiazepines

Fear, anxiety, stress

None reported

TryptophanAn essential amino acid (one of

the building blocks of proteins) and the dietary precursor of serotonin

May increase available levels of

serotonin or enhance its transmission

Anxiety, stress

May increase the risk of

serotonin syndrome

‡ if used

concurrently with drugs that increase serotonin levels

TheanineAn amino acid found in green

tea that has a chemical structure similar to glutamate

May block the effects of glutamate and

increase GABA. An advantage is that it is highly palatable to cats

Fear, anxiety, stress

None reported

Docosahexanoic acid (DHA)

and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
Polyunsaturated fatty acids

Essential for early brain and retinal

development, and to help maintain brain function in adults

For healthy brain and

retinal development in kittens and to improve cognitive function in senior cats

Avoid high doses, which may

result in gastrointestinal effects, weight gain, altered immune function and poor wound healing (Lennox, 1993)

ValerianHerbValeriana officinalis

Usually prepared with other herbs

in either a tablet or liquid form for oral administration or in a spray or diffuser for environmental use. Can have sedative properties

Anxiety, fear, stress,

excitability, timidity, and car sickness

CatnipHerbNepeta cataria

The active ingredient is the essential oil

nepetalactone which affects the CNS via the olfactory bulb
Does not affect all cats (only around

50-70%) and effects can be variable with affected cats showing a wide range of behaviours

Encouragement to play

and aid enrichment. May be used to encourage scratching on a suitable surface

May cause increased

arousal resulting in short term aggression. Catnip intoxication has been reported

*A nutraceutical is a food or food derivative that is said to have medicinal or health-giving properties.‡Serotonin syndrome is a term used to describe a potentially fatal condition that can arise if serotonin levels or availability are excessively increased.
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