can cats take zyrtec

Can Cats Take Zyrtec?

If you’re an allergy sufferer, you know how dreadful allergy season can be. Running nose, itchy eyes, and that general feeling that you’ve been run over by a truck; it’s pretty terrible. Not everyone knows that cats can suffer from allergies as well, but they can! And it’s very likely that they feel the effects just as we do.

Most of us probably reach for a bottle of our trusted antihistamine pills when we’re feeling particularly itchy, and Zyrtec is one of the most popular antihistamines on the market. The active ingredient in Zyrtec (cetirizine) is approved to treat allergy symptoms in humans, and many people find that it works very well.

If your cat is also an allergy sufferer, you probably empathize and want to make your cat as comfortable as possible. But can cats take Zyrtec?

Zyrtec is generally safe for cats- but use caution!  We recommend that you speak to a vet prior to considering giving your feline friend any type of OTC medicine.

There are plenty of things that could go wrong when treating your cat for allergies yourself, and you need to be extremely careful.

In this article, we’ll cover the following:

  • Cats and Zyrtec- What You Need to Know
  • Can Cats Take Zyrtec?
  • Can Kittens Take Zyrtec?
  • Benefits/Negatives of Giving Your Cat Zyrtec
  • Alternatives to Zyrtec For Cats

Cats and Zyrtec, What You Need to Know

Cetirizine, which is sold under the brand “Zyrtec,” is hailed as one of the most effective treatments for hay fever in human beings. Unlike with some of the “first generation” antihistamines, which easily crossed the blood-brain barrier and had all sorts of negative side effects on the nervous system (most notably, extreme drowsiness), you can usually take Zyrtec without falling asleep at your desk later in the day.

Thankfully for our feline friends, Zyrtec is often a safe and very effective way to treat your cat if they have allergies, or even if they are itchy for other reasons (skin irritations, etc.).

The most important thing to remember is that cats are significantly smaller than human beings, and the amount of Zyrtec that we would take could be lethal for a cat. If you want to give your cat Zyrtec, you need to be extremely cautious, extremely accurate about the dosage, and properly monitor your cat for any potential side effects or signs of toxicity.

Is your cat itchy like this one? They may have allergies!

Can Cats Take Zyrtec?

In the correct dosage, Zyrtec has been proven safe and effective for cats. For cats who suffer from allergies and don’t find relief using more traditional medications, such as diphenhydramine (also known as Benadryl) and chlorpheniramine (which is frequently used in veterinary medicine), Zyrtec can be a safe alternative, as long as given correctly.

Because its an over-the-counter medication (you don’t need a prescription), you may be tempted to simply buy Zyrtec and give it to your cat. Don’t do that! If you’re thinking about treating your cat’s allergies with Zyrtec, it is extremely important to do the following:

  1. Talk to your vet. Never give your cat any sort of medication, even veterinary medicine, without first discussing it with your vet. Your vet should always be your first and most important resource for cat health and can give you valuable information about your cat’s medical history, precise dosage instructions, and advice on alternative forms of treatment.
  2. Follow your vet’s instructions exactly. Never experiment with your cat’s health, and don’t assume that giving more of a medication will mean a faster cure; that’s almost never the case!
  3. Be diligent about dosage. Generally, cats are given between 2.5 to 5 milligrams of Zyrtec once every 24 hours to reduce allergy symptoms. But each cat is different, and what could be safe for your neighbor’s cat may not be safe for yours! Discuss your cat’s dosage with your vet before giving them any Zyrtec (or any medication in general).
  4. After giving your cat a vet-approve dose of Zyrtec, make sure to note exactly when you gave it to them and don’t repeat the dose until at least a day later (your vet will give you precise instructions on how often to give your cat Zyrtec).
  5. Watch your cat very carefully for any signs of toxicity or side effects after taking Zyrtec. While some side effects are to be expected (drowsiness, excess salivation, etc.) you should inform your vet of any unusual symptoms.

Can Kittens Take Zyrtec?

It would be very unusual for a veterinarian to recommend giving a young kitten Zyrtec. Kittens are much smaller than adult cats, and much more sensitive to medication. This is true even if your kitten is itchy because of a flea infection.

The amount of Zyrtec your vet would prescribe to an adult cat, which could weigh anywhere from 10-20lbs, would be significantly smaller for a tiny kitten.

If your kitten is suffering from allergies so severe that they need treatment, you should take your kitten to the vet for a consultation. Only a vet can give advice on whether or not to treat your kitten with Zyrtec, and they can give you accurate advice on safe dosing.

Benefits/Negatives of Giving Cats Zyrtec

No loving cat owner wants to see their cat suffering from anything, least of all something as common and treatable as allergies. While Zyrtec is safe for humans, you will want to think carefully before giving Zyrtec to your cat.

Generally, Zyrtec is recognized as a safe antihistamine for felines. But giving human medication to cats is always risky business, and you should be very careful about when you give your cat Zyrtec, how much you give them, and take note of any potential side effects.

How to Give your Cat Zyrtec

Once you’ve spoken to your vet and found out the correct dosage for your particular cat, you may be wondering how on earth you are actually going to convince your cat to take Zyrtec!

Few cats will simply eat a pill out of your hand, so you’ll likely have to get creative. Here are a few tips for giving your cat Zyrtec (or any vet- approved medication, for that matter!)

  1. Hide it in something tasty. A piece of chicken or a rolled up slice of ham are both great disguises for pills. Wrap the Zyrtec pill in some meat, and give it to your cat. If your cat eats the meat and spits out the pill (which crafty cats are known to do!) you may have to try something else.
  2. Crush the pill and mix it in with their food. This may be the easiest way, especially if your cat always eats whatever is in their bowl. This works best with wet food, but can also work with dry food. Be sure that your other cats, if you have any, don’t eat out of the same bowl, and watch carefully to make sure your cat eats every bit of the food in their bowl, so they get the correct dose of the medication.

This owner has giving his cat pills down to a science!

Alternatives to Zyrtec for Cats

There are a variety of vet-approved antihistamines that are safe for cats. Veterinarians often prescribe Diphenhydramine, more commonly known as Benadryl. There are also other medications that can work well, such as Chlorpheniramine and Promethazine. None of these medications should be given to your cat without your vet’s approval.

If you want to avoid medication altogether, you can try some natural remedies to help your cat feel better (but you should still talk to your vet!)

Here are some common home remedies that may give your cat some relief from allergies:

  1. Fish Oil. Fish oil contains plenty of omega-3 fatty acid, which has anti-inflammatory properties and can reduce itching. Adding a small amount to your cat’s food. But be careful- too much fish oil can be detrimental to your cat’s health! Ask your vet for advice on how much fish oil is safe for your cat.
  2. Chamomile Tea. A mild antiseptic, chamomile tea also contains anti-inflammatory properties and can be applied topically to your cat’s skin. Chamomile tea also can kill yeast, which could also contribute to your cat’s allergies. You can even get anti-itch spray made for pets (and many of them contain chamomile as a main ingredient!)

If your cat goes outside, you may want to consider keeping them indoors during allergy season. If your cat isn’t exposed to allergens, they will likely have fewer symptoms!

So, Can Cats Take Zyrtec?

Yes, but you have to be very careful with treating your cat with Zyrtec.  And remember, Zyrtec is not Xanax, so don’t mix the two. Here are a few final reminders:

  1. Never give your cat Zyrtec, or any other medication, without talking to your vet first.
  2. Follow your vet’s instructions to the T.
  3. Be very accurate with dosing- too much Zyrtec can hurt your cat, and too little may not help with their allergies.
  4. Monitor your cat for any sign of side effects. If your cat seems unwell after taking Zyrtec, call your vet.
  5. Or, don’t give them Zyrtec at all and consider other options like Fish Oil and anti-itch spray.

Something else you might be wondering about cats is how often they urinate, which you can find out here!

Does your cat suffer form allergies? Have you tried Zyrtec? How else do you help your itchy cat? Let us know in the comments!

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