Home Medical Care: drugs you might have around the house



Tranquilizers are drugs that work on the brain in several different ways to modify behavior. They have legitimate uses in relieving anxiety and producing sedation, and have been helpful in some instances in changing undesirable behavior patterns. Veterinarians use tranquilizers most often to relieve the anxiety that makes some cats uncooperative when they enter veterinary hospitals, and as preanesthetics. Other common reasons for tranquilizing cats include prolonged confinement (as when traveling), noisy situations (as when being shipped), for appetite stimulation, and for sedation to prevent self-trauma (as in wound licking).

If you can anticipate the need for tranquilization, it is best to discuss the pros and cons with your veterinarian who can then write a prescription for tranquilizing drugs. Cats sometimes react unfavorably to tranquilizers and once tranquilized become less cooperative and more “ferocious” than before. If an unanticipated need arises, two human tranquilizers that can be used in cats are diazepam (Vallium) and chlorpromazine (Thorazine). In such situations call your veterinarian and ask about the advisability of using the drug you have, and ask what the correct dose for your cat should be.

Over-the-counter pet tranquilizers contain antihistamines (such as methapyrilene) and other drugs (e.g., scopolamine) that produce sedation normally thought of as a side effect of their normal uses. In high doses such drugs may produce excitement or may be toxic to cats, and their use is not recommended. Do not use tranquilizers merely for your own convenience; attempt to deal with recurrent problems by training (conditioning your cat to the situation). Do not use tranquilizers to sedate your cat following trauma or severe injury (e.g., being hit by a car); they can have undesirable side effects on blood pressure in such situations and can contribute to shock.


Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) is a common household drug that is often misused when owners attempt to treat their cats. It relieves fever, mild pain, and has some antiinflammatory effects, but is not a specific cure for any disease. Aspirin relieves fever by acting on the brain biochemistry to reset the body’s “thermostat.” It is believed to do this by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins in the preoptic region of the anterior hypothalamus. Prostaglandins, formed in the body cells by metabolism of fatty acids, are potent chemical mediators of inflammation.

Aspirin also relieves local pain and blocks inflammation in tissues by interfering with the formation of prostaglandins. It is known that aspirin can be very toxic to cats in dosages safe for other animals. Misused aspirin can cause severe signs of illness, including vomiting, weakness, lack of appetite, hypersensitivity, blood in the stool, and convulsions. Stomach ulcerations and death have often followed the misuse of aspirin in cats. Since the indications for use of aspirin in cats are few, do not administer aspirin at home. Let your veterinarian decide whether aspirin is necessary and advise you how to administer it so overdosage and toxicity do not occur.

Other nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs often used by people such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen are even more highly toxic to cats than aspirin. Never administer them to your pet.


The use of antacids is discussed.


The use of drugs with laxative action is discussed.


For how to use hydrogen peroxide to clean wounds and abscesses.

To use it to induce vomiting.


You can try isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) for treatment of inflamed ears.


To use over-the-counter antifungal medications such as miconazole or clotrimazole.