Practical relevance: Reversible contraceptives are highly desired by purebred cat breeders for managing estrous cycles and by scientists managing assisted reproduction programs. A variety of alternative medicine approaches have been explored as methods to control feline fertility.
Scope: In the field of veterinary homeopathy, wild carrot seed and papaya have been used for centuries. Both appear to be safe, but their efficacy as feline contraceptives remains anecdotal. In contrast, the use of melatonin in cats has been investigated in a number of studies, findings from which are reviewed in this article.
Rationale: Cats are seasonally polyestrous (they cycle several times during their breeding season) and are described as long-day breeders because endogenous melatonin negatively regulates estrous cyclicity. Exogenous melatonin administered parenterally also suppresses ovarian activity in cats, and long-term oral or subcutaneous melatonin administration is safe.
Challenges: The therapeutic use of melatonin is limited by its short biological half-life (15-20 mins), its poor oral bioavailability and its central effects in reducing wakefulness. Research is required to determine whether higher doses, longer-release formulations, repeated administration or combination implants might overcome these limitations.
© The Author(s) 2015.