cat sedative for travel

What Are Cat Sedatives?

According to Wikihow, cat sedatives can help your cat sleep and/or keep your feline friend calm during a long car ride.

Using a cat sedative is often a highly effective way to keep your cat calm while traveling.

How effective is a sedative when you’re traveling? Sedatives are medications used to reduce anxiety and tension in stressful situations.

A lot of cat owners don’t know anything about various types of tranquilizers and how their cat will be affected by the medication. A variety of pet tranquilizers are available by prescription from your veterinarian and are administered orally or by injection.

Cat sedatives are designed to get your cat relaxed, so it isn’t stressed out or make them sleep. Cats may need sedation for road trips, air travel, or going to the vet. Anxiety is what causes a lot of cats to react to unfamiliar situations.

Keeping a cat sedated during travel is not only better for the cat’s emotional and physical state but will help with your cat’s behavior during the trip. The cat may not sleep for the whole trip but will be more submissive.


Are Cat Sedatives Exclusively Designed For Cats?

While some cat sedatives are exclusively designed for kitties, some of them contain the same active ingredients that are in anti-anxiety medications for humans.

What Types Of Cat Sedatives Are There?

If you’re considering an over-the-counter sedative for your cat instead of a prescription, you should always talk to your veterinarian first, especially if your cat has any medical issues.

Veterinarians commonly use tranquilizers that are gas-based for medical procedures. However, isoflurane, sevoflurane, and halothane are only useful for a short duration and aren’t practical for cat owners to use.

According to Vetinfo the most common method that cat owners use to sedate their cats are sedatives in pill form.

The six main kinds of cat sedatives are benzodiazepines, diphenhydramine, chlorpheniramine, gabapentin, clonidine, and SARIs. Each of these medications affects a different mixture of neurotransmitters.

Cats that get stressed and don’t do well when they’re traveling can often benefit from being given Benadryl. The calming effects of the drug can help to keep your cat from getting motion sickness, in addition to giving them some quiet time during the trip.

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This YouTube Video explains effective methods of sedating a cat.

Here’s what you need to know about each type of medication:


There are several types of benzodiazepines that are used to sedate cats, and they all are pharmacologically similar to the prescription medication Valium. They increase the levels of a neurotransmitter called GABA.

The increased GABA levels help to keep your cat relaxed. Due to your cat’s small size and differences in metabolism, the dosage of benzodiazepines as a cat sedative is far smaller than what is prescribed to humans.

In addition, cats with liver and kidney disease generally cannot receive this medication, and these medications are not administered to cats who are pregnant. Benzodiazepines are available only by prescription.


According to PetHealthNetwork, As peaceful and quiet as many cat owners try to make their environment, there are times when a cat’s disposition changes and it can be due to stress.

Travel can be stressful for humans, but when you share your life with a cat, it can be even more stressful. A cat owner has three options when they travel.

  • Hire a pet sitter
  • Leave the cat at a boarding facility
  • Take the cat on your trip

You could leave your cat at home and have a friend or family member who’s also a cat lover, care for your kitty. You could ask for recommendations from your veterinarian about pet sitters, or board your cat.

However, if you’re planning to take an extended trip, booking a stay at a kennel or hiring a pet sitter could be expensive.

If you happen to be moving to a new location, your cat obviously will go along. Before you leave, make sure you take all the necessary steps to keep your kitty calm and relaxed on the journey.

Some cats settle into their crate and get comfortable when you’re taking a trip. Other cats get stressed over everything, and you’ll experience every problem imaginable. Some cats don’t handle travel very well.

Strange sounds, smells, and sights can be stressful for your cat. Some owners choose to use a sedative to keep their cat calm when they’re traveling and being exposed to a lot of different situations and people.

For more details read: I’m Traveling. Are Tranquilizers Right for My Cat?


Diphenhydramine is the active ingredient in the over-the-counter drug Benadryl.

Benadryl is safe to give to most cats, but the dosage of this medication as a cat sedative is far lower than the dose that is administered to humans. Benadryl is exceptionally effective for keeping cats calm.

Benadryl can also make it less likely that the motion of the car will cause your cat to vomit.

In most cases, you will give your cat 1/4 of the human dosage with a frequency of no more than twice a day.

It’s essential that the product that you choose only contains diphenhydramine. While it is safe to give a cat low doses of Benadryl, cats hate the taste of the medication.

Therefore, administering the medication can be difficult as cats tend to wretch when they notice the taste.

Despite the fact that it’s available over the counter, you should always talk to your vet before giving your cat diphenhydramine.

It’s important to make sure that the specific product that you choose does not contain any inactive ingredients that can be harmful to cats, and only a vet will know for sure.

Diphenhydramine has properties that make your cat feel calm. However, cats with certain medical conditions should not be given Benadryl. You should always discuss medications your cat is taking with your veterinarian before using over-the-counter medicine.

Your veterinarian keeps your cat’s medical records and will know how to adjust the dose of antihistamine, if necessary. It’s essential to follow your vet’s instructions to avoid any drug interactions.

The effects of giving your cat an antihistamine before you travel depend on several factors, including what the cat’s metabolism is like, how much the cat weighs, and how you administer the medication. The effects of the sedative may last from approximately 25 minutes to a few hours.


Gabapentin is a central nervous system depressant that’s a prescription medication for humans and cats. It’s exceptionally effective as an anti-anxiety medication for cats.


Clonidine is also a central nervous system depressant, and it’s also an exceptionally effective anti-anxiety medication for cats. It’s only available by prescription from a vet.


SARIs are known for being highly effective, but they often cause dizziness and disorientation. They cannot be administered to a cat with a heart condition.


This is an over the counter cold and allergy medication for humans in addition to being a cat sedative.

It’s an exceptionally effective anti-anxiety medication for cats. While it’s available over the counter, your vet will need to assist you in choosing the right product and administering the right dosage.


This medication is a central nervous system depressant, and it is an anti-seizure medication for humans. It is a narcotic medication.

Natural Calming Remedies For Cats

One of the most effective calming remedies for cats is cat calming spray. Your cat doesn’t have to take anything orally which could cause digestive upsets. Spray the mist into your cat’s crate or on a blanket or bed 30 minutes to an hour before he’ll be confined.

Allowing the extra time for the spray to penetrate the cat’s bedding will ensure that he doesn’t inhale too much of the spray. As the cat inhales the spray gradually, it will have a relaxing effect.

The critical thing to remember about the calming spray is to spray it in an area where the cat will be lying.

Some people are under the impression that catnip is only something to give to their cat during playtime.

Catnip does have an effect that causes cats to get excited, but it can also be calming. Catnip can generate a calming effect when it comes into contact with a cat’s smell receptors.

Catnip can soothe a stressed cat if they’re upset over different people or pets in the house. Catnip is available dry, as fresh leaves, or as a spray. The catnip may be sprinkled or sprayed around your cat’s favorite places to provide a calm environment.

One thing about catnip is that only about 50 percent of cats will react to it. In a cat’s brain, catnip is associated with urine, so a lot of them will behave as though they were in a heat cycle.

According to PetMD, Besides catnip, there are several herbs that can help to keep your cat calm. Some cats get stressed out easily because it’s part of their temperament. Other cats have a calmer demeanor.

The cats that save their freak out attacks for when they’re traveling with their owners or are going to the vet need a lot of help to remain calm. Here are some herbs that can help.

1. Flower essences are used to keep humans calm and stress-free, and they work well for cats. Although flower essence formulas aren’t an actual herb, the herbal ingredients combine to produce a calming effect quickly.

The thing to remember about this formula is that you must only use the variety that’s alcohol-free for your cat.

2. Chamomile is an excellent choice for cats who suffer from nausea or motion sickness when they’re traveling.

3. Hops are available in a dried flower form that can help to keep a cat calm and free of stress.

4. Valerian has a stimulating effect on cats in the same way as catnip. Cats shouldn’t be allowed to ingest the herb. You can rub a small amount of valerian root oil over a surface, and your cat will be ecstatic just sniffing it.

Applying pressure has a calming effect on humans and animals. One of the methods of keeping a cat calm is to use one of the shirts that apply pressure to the torso area. The theory of applying pressure as a calming effect is similar to a parent swaddling an infant.

These shirts apply gentle and constant pressure on the cat’s torso, which has a calming effect. The shirts can be used for grooming, trips to the veterinarian, noise anxiety from fireworks or thunderstorms, and for travel.

A lot of veterinarians recommend this type of calming method for cats that get stressed easily, and a lot of them use them for their pets that have anxiety issues. 

For more details read: Six Ways to Naturally Sedate Your Cat

What Happens After You Give Your Cat A Sedative?

Do They Take Effect Immediately?

There will be a period of time before the medication kicks in. The amount of time that it takes for the medication to kick in depends on the medication that your pet receives. What happens next depends on how your cat reacts to the medication.

Do They Always Sleep At Some Point During The Trip?

If your cat reacts strongly to the medication, he or she will go right to sleep. In other cases, your cat will simply become less active than usual. As a result, he or she will be less likely to resist being put in the crate or carrier.

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He or she also will be less vocal than he or she would be without the medication.

However, it’s important to note that some cats may be calmer after taking a cat sedative but still find it difficult to sleep.

Will The Sedative Last For The Whole Trip?

It depends on the medication as well as how your cat reacts to the medication. However, it’s not uncommon for a dose of the medication to only last for part of the trip.

Discuss what to do if this happens with your vet. Some cat sedatives can be re-administered after a certain period of time has passed, but this isn’t possible with all medications.

When Should You Use A Cat Sedative?

You should never bring your cat on vacation with you. The only time that you’ll need to sedate your cat to travel is if you’ll be relocating. Cats find travel extremely stressful even if they are sedated.

Are There Side Effects Of Cat Sedatives?

All cat sedatives have side effects, but the specific nature of the side effects depends on the medication that you give your cat. In addition, different cats experience different side effects from different medications.

These are some of the most common side effects of cat sedatives:

  • Excessive sedation
  • Disorientation
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness

If you notice any of these side effects, it’s important to seek veterinary attention immediately:

  • Increased aggression
  • Vomiting
  • Other gastrointestinal side effects
  • Signs of an allergic reaction: itching, rash, swelling of the lips, face, or tongue, or
  • difficulty breathing
  • incoordination
  • unusually slow heart rate and/or breathing

If your cat experiences any of these side effects after being given a sedative, contact your veterinarian immediately.

How Much Do Cat Sedatives Cost?

The cost of cat sedatives depends on the specific sedative that you are using. In addition, the cost of sedating your cat depends on the dosage of the medication that your veterinarian recommends.

Different veterinarians may charge different prices for the same medication. Larger cats typically require more medication. Therefore, it is likely to cost more to sedate a larger cat than a smaller one.

How Do You Administer A Cat Sedative?

You Can Disguise The Pill:

Cats don’t tend to be cooperative patients, but there are several ways that you can get your cat to take a pill. If the cat sedative is being administered in pill form, you might be able to disguise the pill in meat.

Will Your Cat Still Notice The Pill?

Your cat might simply enjoy the tasty treat without really noticing the pill. However, this method doesn’t always work.

Some cats tend to eat around the pill. If this method works, it’s generally the best way to get your cat to take a pill.

What Can You Do If You Can’t Hide The Pill In Meat?

If this method doesn’t work, you’ll need to essentially force your cat to take the sedative.

As you would expect, this is a difficult process that doesn’t always work. Some cats will spit the pill out or even pretend to swallow the pill.

Related: Quick Tips & Tricks on How to Give Your Cat a Pill

Will My Cat Try To Bite Me?

Maybe. If you have to use this method, it’s important to be very careful to avoid being bitten as cat bites tend to become infected.

Related: Kitten Bites! Understanding Why and How to Stop Them

Even the most agreeable cats could bite you if you try to open their mouth. Using the tips in this video can prevent your cat from biting you.

Are There Any Devices That Can Make Your Cat More Likely To Take A Pill?

A “pill gun” can make it easier to get your cat to take a pill. These devices insert the pill in a manner that is somewhat forceful, and it’s less likely that your cat will spit the pill out or pretend to swallow it.

How Will I Know If My Cat Took The Medication?

If your cat licks his or her nose after you attempt to get your cat to take a pill, it means that he or she swallowed it.

Are Liquid Sedatives Easier To Give Your Cat?

If it’s possible to give your cat a liquid sedative, this is almost always the best option. Liquid sedatives can often be mixed with food.

Can A Liquid Sedative Be Given To Your Cat With A Syringe?

If you cannot mix the liquid with food, it’s still usually easier to get your cat to take a liquid sedative than it is to get your cat to take a pill.

Are There Any Special Precautions That You Must Take While Using A Syringe To Give Your Cat A Sedative In Liquid Form?

While you can use a syringe to get your cat to take a liquid medication, it’s important to administer the medication slowly.

If you administer the medication too quickly, your cat could aspirate the liquid. This could be extremely dangerous.

Regardless of how you administer the medication, you should always try to get your cat in a calm mood before you administer the medication. This will make it less likely that your cat will protest and/or attempt to bite you.

What Causes Stress In Cats?

A lot of cats go through life seemingly relaxed all the time and are immune to stressful situations. However, it’s not the same for all cats. Some will get stressed over minor things like rearranging your living room furniture.

Cat owners don’t like to see their pet visibly upset because they know if they’re stressed they aren’t happy. There are many reasons a get suffers from stress. A bout with anxiety in your cat could be caused by people coming to visit that the cat isn’t familiar with.

Any changes in their environment or introducing a new pet into the family could be causes for a cat to get stressed. Stress in cats can manifest in different ways and aren’t only troubling for the cat emotionally but could cause physical harm.

These are some of the signs that indicate stress in a cat:

1. Aggressive behavior. A cat that’s stressed may become defensive or offensive. Some cats exhibit both types of behavior.

2. Finding a hiding place. When a cat that’s usually outgoing and friendly suddenly becomes withdrawn and wants to hide, it could be a sign that the cat is experiencing stress. A cat that’s stressed often wants nothing more than to find a quiet, hiding place and have seclusion.

3. Loss of appetite. If your cat is one that looks forward to every meal and suddenly has a loss of appetite, it could be a sign that there’s stress going on. It’s vital to get to the root of the problem, so your cat is consuming enough food to stay healthy.

4. Urinating in inappropriate places. If a cat starts urinating outside their litter box and medical problems have been ruled out, it could be a sign that the cat is feeling stress.

5. Grooming excessively. A cat that’s usually relaxed and starts grooming regularly may be feeling stressed. Some cats will spend so much time grooming that they begin to lose some of their furs, so it’s crucial to find out what’s going on to remedy the situation.

Tips For Cats With Travel Anxiety

If your cat tends to suffer from motion sickness or get agitated when he’s in the car Benadryl can be given twice a day, which averages out to 8-12 hours. The dosage is 0.5 to 2 milligrams for each pound.

Besides using Benadryl to keep your cat relaxed, you should take special care with the carrier you use for your cat when you’re traveling. It’s not advisable to buy a new carrier just before you make a trip and expect your cat to adjust quickly.

The carrier should be a place where he’ll be calm during trips. You should make the carrier as comfortable as possible to provide a relaxing environment for the cat.

Cats really are naturally curious and like to watch what’s going on. The crate’s location should allow them a good view of their owners or even a good view out the window.

Cat experts recommend making sure that something soft in the cat’s crate, like their bed or blanket, or article of clothing with the owner’s scent. A favorite toy inside the crate will also help keep your cat occupied.

While you’re traveling, place your hand near the carrier frequently, so the cat picks up your scent. Speak to your cat in a soothing, quiet voice. When the effects of the tranquilizer begin to work, your cat will start to calm down and feel relaxed.

Cats enjoy comfort food as much as humans so you can reward your cat with a favorite treat.

Taking a trip with your cat requires some careful planning. A lot of cats get anxious when they’re in the car for short trips. The veterinarian who treats your cat on a regular basis can prescribe the most effective sedative to keep your kitty calm and happy during the trip.

You’ll enjoy your trip more if you don’t have to worry about your cat’s anxiety and whether he may get sick.

Tips For Long Car Trips With Your Cat

A loose cat in a car is never a good idea, even if he’s usually well-behaved. Cats can freak out over little things that don’t affect other animals. Unusual noise or smell could cause them to try to hide somewhere they shouldn’t be.

Another possibility is that a cat that gets spooked might make escape attempts. The more panicked a cat gets, the more likely he or she is to act out, possibly with aggression. Some cats resist going into their crate but usually settle in after a few minutes.

Always remember to have the crate restrained by a seat belt, so it doesn’t get jostled around while you’re driving. A lot of movement will make the cat feel more stress and could result in an injury.

Your cat will be safest if the crate is in a back seat. Car airbags deploy with enough force to injure or kill a cat, even in a carrier. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Cat Sedative For Traveling In A Plane

According to WikiHow, There’s a lot of controversy about sedating a cat before traveling in a plane. Some cat parents are hesitant to sedate their cats because they’re heard stories from people about the negative side effects of sedation.

People can get anxious and feel stressed before a trip, and animals can sense their owner’s stress level. When you take your cat from its familiar environment and get on a plane, the cat may go into a panic.

Careful planning before any air travel will make the experience more pleasant for you and less stressful for your cat. The first thing you should do is to take your cat to the vet for a check-up before the trip. Discuss your apprehension with the vet and get recommendations.

Another issue to discuss with your veterinarian is any medications your cat may be taking. The tranquilizer prescribed for air travel mustn’t interact with any other prescription medications.

The veterinary exam is necessary to make sure your cat is up-to-date on all vaccinations and is healthy enough for air travel. Tranquilizers can affect a cat’s ability to control their body temperature.

Regulating a cat’s body temperature could be a problem if they must be in the cargo hold. Find out in advance which airlines allow a cat to be kept in the cabin and what restrictions they have.

If you’re using sedation for your cat, test the medication several days before your trip, so you’ll know what the effects are on your cat. If there are any side effects, contact your vet for a different medication.

If you prefer not to use prescription sedatives for your cat, there are several products available through pet suppliers and homeopathic sites that are natural. Among the ingredients in some of these supplements are taurine, chamomile, ginger, and dried hops.

How to Sedate a Cat for Travel