Yay, Atenolol Makes My Cat Thirsty and Pee Everywhere

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Is atenolol making your cat urinate everywhere and also very thirsty? Inappropriate urination is not listed as a side effect of atenolol (frequently misspelled as ‘atenelol’), and so your vet may not believe you that your cat started peeing everywhere and became crazy-thirsty while on atenolol (Tenormin), but I believe you.

This all started when our vet detected a heart murmur in our cat, Charlie. He prescribed atenelol, which reduces the beats per minute (BPM), so that the heart isn’t working harder than it ought.

According to 1800PetMeds, “Atenolol is a beta-blocker used to treat certain heart conditions such as arrhythmias. It may also be used to lower blood pressure and treat enlarged hearts in cats.”

It is also used to treat hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) in cats. The first treatment for feline HCM listed by the Cornell School of Veterinary Medicine is controlling heart rate, which atenelol does.

Technically, that is with what Charlie was diagnosed at his most recent checkup.

Anyways, Charlie has always been prone to peeing where he shouldn’t. It started the day that we returned home from a vacation, and he expressed his pleasure at seeing us by peeing on my pillow. (Of course I’m being sarcastic there – he was expressing his displeasure at our having been gone. He’s an articulate little bugger.)

Once he did that, the floodgates opened, as it were, and he started peeing on any soft thing left on the floor. No longer could we have area rugs – but it was great incentive to not leave clothes on the floor.

Eventually, though, he calmed down, and so long as we didn’t leave a tempting t-shirt on the floor, the house stayed mostly dry.

Enter atenolol.

We’ve tried him on it a few time. Each time, the record reflects (by which I mean his medical records) that there was an increase in his peeing anywhere and everywhere (mostly in corners, on the hard floors, because we had all of our carpeted floors gated beyond his reach). My vet recently told me that it was noted in Charlie’s chart that the last time this happened, we added amitriptyline (Elavil) to Charlie’s medications, and that helped with the urination.

So, this most recent time of trying the atenolol again, I noted the appearance of two phenomena almost immediately: Charlie started peeing all over the place again, and Charlie started demanding water, water, everywhere.

My vet advised all of the standard ‘inappropriate urine elimination’ measures, clean litter box, etc..and of course the Feliway or other cat pheromone devices.

Not to be so easily thwarted, he started peeing right next to the pheromone diffusers (Charlie, not my vet).

The cat pheromones are typically used to help calm a cat down – they can help with inappropriate elimination in cases where the cat is doing it to mark his territory, etc.. This clearly wasn’t one of those situations.

Plus, there was the increased water intake piece.

Charlie had at one time had a habit of running to the sink ahead of your walking into the bathroom or the kitchen, jumping onto the sink, and loudly demanding that you turn on the water for him to drink. But he hadn’t done it in ages.

Then, within a day or so of starting up the atenolol again, he started demanding water again – he was clearly very thirsty.

Of course, the increase in water intake most likely has something to do with the increased urine output, but not, mechanically at least, with where that output was occurring. (I should add here that Charlie does use the litter box, for both urinating and number two.)

So, I stopped the atenolol again, about two days ago, and yes, his demanding water has all but stopped; and I’m monitoring to see if the urinating where he shouldn’t stops as well.

Anyways, I am posting this primarily for others who may be noting the same symptoms once their cat has started on atenolol, because there is nothing on the Internet that talks about this.

By the way, this article in Veterinary Practice News on inappropriate feline urinating is, hands down, the best resource I have ever seen on the subject of how to deal with your cat peeing everywhere.

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