If you regularly have insomnia, chances are you’re familiar with the supplement melatonin. Melatonin is widely used for insomnia because it’s effective (and necessary) for regulating one’s sleep cycle. As a cat parent, you may have wondered at some point if your cat can safely take melatonin as well. Or what happens if you leave your melatonin out and your cat gets into it?
So, can cats eat melatonin, and is it healthy for them? It turns out cats can safely consume melatonin, but only as directed. Research is still being done, but there is evidence that melatonin may also offer some health benefits to them! Here’s everything you should know about cats and melatonin.
What Is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone found in the body that is produced by the pineal gland. When functioning normally, it is released at night to help indicate to the body that it’s time to sleep. It plays an essential role in the sleep-wake cycle. And because it’s a naturally occurring hormone, many people find it preferable to use it as a sleep aid rather than medications such as Ambien.
Can Cats Eat Melatonin?
Melatonin occurs naturally within the feline body as it does with the human body. It is safe for your cat to consume when it’s administered at the proper dose and taken as needed. How much to give your cat will vary, so make sure to discuss its use and the appropriate dosage with your vet.
You should also be careful with what brands you use, as some melatonin brands formulated for people may have ingredients that won’t agree with cats. Make sure to speak with your veterinarian to determine which formula is appropriate for your cat.
Does Melatonin Have Health Benefits for Cats?
There is still research being done on the effectiveness of oral melatonin for cats. However, there have been some reported health benefits when used appropriately.
It might seem ridiculous to think of cats having sleep issues. After all, sleeping takes up a good chunk of their days! But as cats age, they may start having trouble regulating their sleep-wake cycles, particularly if they are also suffering from a cognitive disorder.
Although melatonin has been used for hair loss more frequently in dogs (and has been used more frequently for dogs, in general), it may be helpful for cats with hair loss as well. If your kitty is suffering from hormone-related alopecia, melatonin may assist in the regrowth of their hair.
If your cat is dealing with separation anxiety or anxiety related to something such as a long car ride, melatonin may be the key to keeping them calm due to its sedative effects. Melatonin is likely better for those pets with mild anxiety, not severe. So, if you have a kitty who experiences anxiety occasionally, it could make them feel better.
Does Melatonin Have Side Effects for Cats?
Studies are limited regarding side effects of melatonin. But if it is being used as directed, they should be uncommon. Some common side effects of melatonin that have been reported include:
- Extreme sleepiness
- Stomach upset
Certain medications can also interact with melatonin when used together. These include:
- Other supplements, herbs, and vitamins
If your cat has somehow overdosed on melatonin, either via accident or because they got into your stash and ate a ton, you’ll see extreme drowsiness and stomach upset. If this happens, get them to a vet right away.
It should be fairly safe for your cat to eat melatonin, provided they consume the proper amount and only as needed. In fact, melatonin may be beneficial to cats in many ways, including regulating sleep, calming anxiety, and helping with hair loss. Just remember to be cautious when it comes to using melatonin if your pet is on other medications or supplements, as they could interact.
The correct dosage for melatonin will vary by pet, so you should check with your vet before administering this supplement to find out how much is needed for your cat. They can let you know if there are interactions with any currently used medications as well.
Finally, be sure you’re using pet-safe melatonin or one recommended by your veterinarian, to make sure they are receiving the safest option.
Featured Image Credit: photo_gonzo, Shutterstock