I haven't mentioned Rebus for a while — 5 months, in fact — and I thought it was about time to let those of you who might be interested what has been going on of late.
We persisted for as long as possible with the milder medication (Zylkène), but even with 2 pills a day Rebus still needed 3 vigorous play sessions daily... and even then he might display unpredictable predatory behaviour. It was extremely frustrating, and I was getting exhausted from constantly having to remain vigilant around him. I'm sure he could sense my tension, which didn't help at all.
When I first consulted our veterinarian back in February, she explained that there were two types of medication available when dealing with problematic behaviour in cats: a mild one and a very powerful one. The vet technicians told me that the latter was "heavy duty stuff", that they'd heard it made cats almost unrecognisable and practically turned them into zombies. Well, there was no way I was going to do that to my Rebus! I fought the idea for months and months, in spite of the glaringly obvious fact that the mild stuff wasn't working. (I did investigate other possibilities such as homeopathic vets, but there are no practitioners in my area.)
Everyone has a breaking point, and mine came in July. I had a lengthy phone conversation with our vet about the actual side effects of the more powerful medication. Although she was less of an alarmist than the technicians, she said that Rebus could become very anxious and aggressive, or on the contrary be completely lethargic, and even pee and poo outside the litterbox. But, she stressed, these were potential side effects, and the dosage could be reduced if any of these things occurred. After sleeping on it, I thought it was worth the risk.
This new medicine is called Fluoxetine, which is another name for Prozac. (Yes, I know.) The directions said to administer it once every two days, then once a day if there was no problem. I was a bundle of nerves on the first morning, following Rebus around and peeking worriedly into the laundry room each time he used his litterbox. His pupils were slightly dilated, and he slept a bit more than usual, but wasn't at all groggy when he woke up. He ate and drank as usual. There were no litterbox-related mishaps. He played as enthusiastically as normally did. As the first couple of weeks passed, there were really only a couple of very minor incidents — almost nothing compared with his previous behaviour.
Since everything was going so well, and with the support of our vet, I've continued to give Rebus his chicken-flavoured chew every other day instead of once a day. It's having the desired effect, so we see no point in giving him more medicine than he needs. (I confess, my bank account is quite happy with this decision too — that stuff is expensive!)
Do I feel good about giving Prozac to my cat? Obviously, I'd rather not! We did give the alternative an earnest try. It didn't work. This medicine does work, without impairing my cat's quality of life or turning him into a drugged-up bundle of fur or a wild beast.
And how is Rebus? Well, *fingers crossed* I'd say he's almost back to his old loving, snuggly, silly self!