Can Cats Take Benadryl?

If seasonal allergies make you eyes itchy, or a bee sting makes your finger swell, your doctor suggests you take an antihistamine to ease the symptoms.

So you may be wondering, “Can cats take Benadryl? If not, why not?” If antihistamines treat nasty allergic symptoms, why won’t they help my cat’s itchiness? Are antihistamines safe for your pet? The answer might surprise you.


In this article: 

  • Why Antihistamine?
  • Can Cats Take Benadryl?
  • What Are the Side Effects?
  • Final Thoughts: Can Cats Take Benadryl?

Why Antihistamine?

When the human body has an allergic reaction to a new laundry detergent or a new crop of ragweed, it produces histamines.

Histamine is a chemical released in your body that causes the itching and inflammation in an allergic reaction. Anti-histamines block the H-1 receptors in your body to lessen or to keep the reaction from occurring at all.

can cats tale Benadryl? || Fluffy Kitty

Antihistamines such as diphenhydrdamine, the common name for the product Benadryl, work to counteract the effects of histamine on tiny blood vessels and relieves the itching, redness, and swelling. 

Antihistamines also cause drowsiness and have a soothing effect on motion sickness.

Can I Give My Cat Benadryl?

We advise you to consult with your cat’s veterinarian before you give her medications meant for humans.

The general consensus here though is, yes. Unless your pet has a treatment for high blood pressure or a heart condition, veterinarians don’t seem to have a problem with giving antihistamines to pets.

can cats take Benadryl? || Fluffy Kitty

Often, itching and rashes can be part of a different problem than a simple allergic reaction. You want to be sure that your cat is otherwise healthy before you start treating (and masking) the symptoms.  A quick call to your vet will get you the definitive answer.

The most important factor in treating your animal with human medication is the matter of dosage.

Our research tells us that vets advise antihistamine dosage should be 1 milligram per 10 pounds of body weight. The average cat or small dog can take 1/2 of the usual human dose of 25 milligrams that probably comes in  your very own bottle of diphenhydramine.

can cats take Benadryl? || Fluffy Kitty

How you give the drug to the critter is up to you. Here is a very good video as to how to give medicine to your pet. (This video features a dog but the basics are the same.)

What Are the Side Effects?

In pets, as in humans, the most common side effect of antihistamines is drowsiness.

Here is a full list of side effects antihistamines can cause in your cat.

  • Hyper-excitability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Decrease in urination
  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Final Thoughts: Can Cats Take Benadryl?

Like a number of other human-over-the-counter medications, Benadryl and its generic cousin diphenhydramine are safe and effective in treating itchiness and inflammation in your cat.

Nevertheless, we still advise you chat with your pet’s doctor before launching off on your own treatment. This is especially true if your pet happens to be pregnant or have a heart condition.

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