Effectiveness of buspirone on urine spraying and inappropriate urination in cats

Benjamin L. Hart From the Department of Physiological Sciences, and The Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, University of California, Davis, CA 95616 (Hart, Eckstein, Powell), and the Department of Veterinary Surgery, School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, 200 Westboro Rd, North Grafton, MA 01536 (Dodman).

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Robert A. Eckstein From the Department of Physiological Sciences, and The Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, University of California, Davis, CA 95616 (Hart, Eckstein, Powell), and the Department of Veterinary Surgery, School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, 200 Westboro Rd, North Grafton, MA 01536 (Dodman).

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Karen L. Powell From the Department of Physiological Sciences, and The Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, University of California, Davis, CA 95616 (Hart, Eckstein, Powell), and the Department of Veterinary Surgery, School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, 200 Westboro Rd, North Grafton, MA 01536 (Dodman).

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Nicholas H. Dodman From the Department of Physiological Sciences, and The Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, University of California, Davis, CA 95616 (Hart, Eckstein, Powell), and the Department of Veterinary Surgery, School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, 200 Westboro Rd, North Grafton, MA 01536 (Dodman).

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Summary

The most frequent type of behavior problem in cats for which veterinary consultation is sought is problem urination. Urine spraying and urine marking have been treated by use of long-acting progestins and diazepam, a benzodiazepine antianxiety drug. Effectiveness of the nonbenzodiazepine antianxiety drug, buspirone, in suppressing urine spraying and marking in 47 male and 15 female cats was evaluated. The effect of the drug in correcting inappropriate urination in 9 cats also was evaluated. Buspirone resulted in a favorable response (> 75% reduction) in 55% of cats treated for urine spraying or marking. There was no sex difference in effectiveness of the treatment, but cats from single-cat households responded favorably significantly (P < 0.001) less frequently than those from multiple-cat households. The 55% response rate was within the range of treatment effectiveness that has been reported for diazepam, and was greater than that reported for progestin. In contrast to diazepam, with which over 90% of treated cats resumed spraying or marking when the drug was gradually discontinued, only half of the cats treated with buspirone resumed spraying when the drug was discontinued after 2 months of treatment (P < 0.001). This difference between diazepam and buspirone in resumption of urine spraying was attributed to diazepam's induction of physiologic and behavioral dependency, not found with buspirone. Cats that resumed spraying were placed on long-term treatment ranging from 6 to 18 months. Buspirone also did not cause the adverse effects of sedation and ataxia, which commonly are seen with diazepam treatment. In cats treated for inappropriate urination, 56% returned to normal litter box usage. Buspirone appeared to be the drug of choice for treating urine spraying and urine marking, and when combined with appropriate behavioral measures, buspirone is indicated for inappropriate urination as well.

Summary

The most frequent type of behavior problem in cats for which veterinary consultation is sought is problem urination. Urine spraying and urine marking have been treated by use of long-acting progestins and diazepam, a benzodiazepine antianxiety drug. Effectiveness of the nonbenzodiazepine antianxiety drug, buspirone, in suppressing urine spraying and marking in 47 male and 15 female cats was evaluated. The effect of the drug in correcting inappropriate urination in 9 cats also was evaluated. Buspirone resulted in a favorable response (> 75% reduction) in 55% of cats treated for urine spraying or marking. There was no sex difference in effectiveness of the treatment, but cats from single-cat households responded favorably significantly (P < 0.001) less frequently than those from multiple-cat households. The 55% response rate was within the range of treatment effectiveness that has been reported for diazepam, and was greater than that reported for progestin. In contrast to diazepam, with which over 90% of treated cats resumed spraying or marking when the drug was gradually discontinued, only half of the cats treated with buspirone resumed spraying when the drug was discontinued after 2 months of treatment (P < 0.001). This difference between diazepam and buspirone in resumption of urine spraying was attributed to diazepam's induction of physiologic and behavioral dependency, not found with buspirone. Cats that resumed spraying were placed on long-term treatment ranging from 6 to 18 months. Buspirone also did not cause the adverse effects of sedation and ataxia, which commonly are seen with diazepam treatment. In cats treated for inappropriate urination, 56% returned to normal litter box usage. Buspirone appeared to be the drug of choice for treating urine spraying and urine marking, and when combined with appropriate behavioral measures, buspirone is indicated for inappropriate urination as well.

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