Can Cats Take Human Appetite Stimulants?


Hi Dr Barchas once again. I plucked up courage took your advice and paid our veterinary department yesterday to enquire about blood tests for my 9 year old male cat that has lost his appetite.

I was informed that they anesthetize the cats purely to draw blood. We decided on an appetite stimulant called Collovet in liquid form which my husband and I were unable to administer. I was told by a South African vet via e mail to try CIPLAN ACTIN 1/4 tablet twice daily (This is a HUMAN stimulant). Please advise urgently whether you are happy with the human appetite stimulant for my cat.

I dont feel comfortable about anesthetizing my boy just to draw blood. Thank you so much for the invaluable service you provide.



I generally do not anesthetize cats simply to draw blood. However, there are some exceptions.

Most cats tolerate blood draws with minimal restraint and no sedation. I work with a very competent nursing staff, and they generally can draw blood samples in a matter of seconds — the cat usually does not even realize that a very minor medical procedure has occurred.

However, as I mentioned, there are exceptions. A small proportion of cats becomes very nervous and frightened when outside of their home environments. These cats may struggle and experience extreme stress during medical treatments or procedures. They may attempt to bite and scratch. A cat that is extremely stressed may require sedation or even general anesthesia for a blood draw. Is your cat one of those?

When I am faced with a patient that will not tolerate phlebotomy, I first ask myself whether risks of sedation or anesthesia are worth the benefits of having blood test results. Sometimes it is better not to put the patient through the procedure. When the owners and I determine that the blood sample truly is necessary, I usually start tranquilizing the cat with a combination of short acting anti-anxiety medications which are unlikely to cause adverse effects (I usually start with a combination of butorphanol and midazolam). Full-blown anesthesia rarely is necessary, and anesthesia should be avoided if possible in cats that already are sick or not eating.

You should ask the veterinary department why they want to anesthetize your cat. If he is not stressed or struggling, it shouldn’t be necessary.

I had not heard of Collovet until I received your letter. However, a google search reveals that it is a combination of vitamins, minerals and caffeine that is supposed to boost the abilities of performance animals such as racing horses. I do not recommend administering caffeine to cats or dogs, so I recommend that you not administer Collovet.

Cipla-Actin contains a medication called cyproheptadine. Cyproheptadine is used as an antihistamine in humans. It also commonly is used as an appetite stimulant in cats. The dose usually is 1 – 4 mg orally once or twice daily.

Although cyproheptadine is not inappropriate for use in your cat, I still worry about why he has lost his appetite. Appetites don’t just disappear for no reason. I hope your cat is eating well now, but I still recommend that your cat undergo blood tests, without anesthesia, if possible.

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