Background: L-theanine is an aminoacid found in tea leaves which has relaxing effects in humans and animals. It is a structural analogue of glutamate which can bind glutamate receptors. Although the relaxing action of L-theanine has been shown in humans, laboratory animals and dogs, it has never been published in cats. The goal of this open-label, multicentre and prospective trial was to determine whether an L-theanine based oral supplement (Anxitane®, Virbac, France) could attenuate manifestations of stress in cats under field conditions.
Case presentation: Thirty-three privately owned cats presenting signs associated with stress or fear (inappropriate urination/defecation, fear-induced aggressiveness, hypervigilance/tenseness or physical/functional manifestations of stress) for at least 1 month, were included in the study. They were given L-theanine (Anxitane®, 25 mg twice a day) for 30 days and 20 stress-related parameters were scored at Days 0, 15 and 30. The evolution of some parameters was also rated relative to Day 0. All median scores of the 20 parameters were significantly reduced at D30, and 30/33 cats (91%) had a reduced global score at the end of the study, including 21/33 with ≥50% score reduction. The median (IQR) global scores went from 18 (13-23) at D0 to 11 (8-13) at D15 and 5 (3-12) at D30 (p < 0.0001; Friedman test; significant reduction starting from D15). All the stress-related signs were significantly improved compared to D0, according to the owners, especially inappropriate elimination. Tablet palatability was judged good or very good in 94% of cases with spontaneous intake by cats when given by hand or in food. Tolerance was satisfactory as well, and no side effects were reported, so that most owners (27/33; 82%) were satisfied with the product.
Conclusions: Despite the lack of a placebo group, it can be concluded that L-theanine (Anxitane®) helped to improve the undesirable manifestations of stress in cats in as soon as 15 days, though better results could be seen after 30 days of administration. These encouraging results show that L-theanine can help manage stress-related behaviour, but additional trials with a placebo group should be run to confirm this effect.
Keywords: Anxitane®; Cats; Field; L-theanine; Stress; Undesirable behaviours.