How to Sedate a Cat With Benadryl

If you have a cat who grows anxious when it comes time for veterinarian or groomer visits, sedating your cat using Benadryl just might be a good option! Read on to find out how and when to sedate your cat using Benadryl.

Disclaimer: While this has been a generally safe method used on cats by their owners and vets alike, it is a good idea to check with your vet before giving any kind of medication to your cat.

Checking with a medical professional can ensure that the medication is safe for your cat and prevent any illness resulting.

According to Canna-Pet, Just like with any other medication, there is always a risk of side effects, and the best way to make sure your cat is safe is to consult with their veterinarian, not sites you find on the internet.

Besides checking with a vet, the most important thing to consider when giving Benadryl to your cat is the size of your cat.

Just like humans, the size, and bodyweight of a cat influence how a drug will act in their system. For average-sized cats, you can use either half of a 25-milligram tablet or about four milliliters of liquid.

Using liquid is generally easier with animals because you can stick the syringe in their mouth and shoot the medication in, but some cats will refuse to take medication if they do not like the taste or smell of it.

According to PetMD, you can go to a compounding pharmacy and have the liquid flavored like chicken or fish, which will increase the chances of your cat actually taking the Benadryl. You can also get flavored pills to make the process easier.

To administer the Benadryl to your cat, fill the syringe with the proper amount of liquid.

How to Give a Cat Benadryl

You will want to hold your cat’s head still using one hand to prevent them from refusing the medication while actually giving them the medication with the other hand.

Insert the syringe into the corner of your cat’s mouth so that the tip is between the teeth and the cheek and is facing the back of the head.

As you are holding your cat in this way, they might become anxious. It can help if you have another person around to help hold or pet your cat and keep them calm.

Additionally, you should talk to your cat in soothing and reassuring tones throughout this process to help keep their anxiety levels low.

If you do not have another person around to help with this step, a large towel can be used.

Wrap your cat in the towel so only the head is free, and hold the wrapped cat against your body. Be careful not to wrap the cat too tightly.

If your cat becomes too agitated while you are administering the Benadryl, you may want to stop and try again later.

This will give your cat a chance to calm down so you can start the process up again at a later time.

A common mistake here is to tip the cat’s head back to make the process easier.

According to Vet Street, This is actually a dangerous thing to do because it can cause your cat to inhale the medication rather than swallowing it.

Instead, hold their head steadily facing forward as you inject the medication from the syringe into their mouth.

After you have injected the medication into your cat’s mouth, you will want to hold their head shut to prevent them from spitting out the Benadryl before they have swallowed.

You can also promote swallowing by rubbing your cat’s throat or gently blowing on their nose. It is important to make sure your cat swallows the liquid before releasing it.

How to Give a Cat Benadryl Pill

If you are using a Benadryl tablet instead of a liquid, this process will be a little different.

You will still want to hold your cat close to your body in a towel or have another person around to help keep anxiety levels, but the actual administering of the drug is slightly different.

Once you have your cat contained, place your thumb and middle finger where the jaw hinges. Then, begin to pry your cat’s mouth open gently.

You will want to tip their head back slightly without yanking on their neck or holding their head too tightly.

When you have your cat’s head tilted back to an angle where you can see the back of their throat, you can drop the pill in the center of the mouth and then quickly close their mouth to prevent them from spitting the pill out.

In the same way, you would if you were administering liquid, gently rub your cat’s throat to encourage them to swallow. You will know that your cat has swallowed when they lick their lips.

After they have swallowed the pill, give them a small amount of water via a syringe. This will help the pill dissolve in their stomach.

After all this, you can give them a treat as a reward for putting up with the process.

Make sure you are giving them treats that will not cause a negative reaction when mixed with Benadryl.

You can do this by checking with your vet when you consult them about using Benadryl in the first place.

If you need a visual for how this process will play out, the first part of this YouTube video gives a good overview of how to best administer liquid medication to a cat.

There are other techniques for sedation later on in the video if you are interested in exploring options other than Benadryl for sedating your feline friend.

If you are having problems giving your cat a pill, you can try methods like a pill shooter or disguising it in a treat pocket.

What Is the Correct Benadryl Dosage for My Cat?

Whenever you choose to give you or your animal a new medication, there should be a thorough check of proper dosages.

If you were to give your cat too much, you may end up poisoning them. Too little, and you won’t know how effective this drug is. 

Of course, the right dosage depends on several considerations. Among these variables are the overall height, weight, activity level, and health of your feline. 

Let’s say that you have a healthy, 10-pound cat in need of Benadryl. How much do you give them?

Two different dosages based on the method you use. Benadryl in pill form for a 10-pound cat should have roughly 12.5 mg or half of a 25 mg tablet.

If you’ve chosen to use the liquid version, take note of the concentration. Benadryl that has a 12.5-mg/5 ml concentration should be given to a cat in only 4 ml quantities. 

Knowing how much to give your cat is pivotal in keeping them healthy. But, how long do these medications last? 

How Long Does Benadryl Last in a Cat?

The duration of a medication can be determined based on many factors. To determine how long a single Benadryl would last for a cat, we must first understand half-life. 

Each drug has what is called a “half-life”. News Medical defines this word as the amount of time that it takes for a certain medication to be reduced down to 50 percent. 

But what does half-life have to do with how long Benadryl will affect my cat?

Well, when you consider the amount of time that it takes for a pill to reach its half-life, then you can figure out the overall lasting effects.

For example, take a 100 mg dose of a drug that has a half-life of 15 minutes. After the initial 15 minutes, only 50 mg of this medication is actively working in the individual’s body. 

The half-life itself is based on two separate variables, the volume being administered, and how fast the body uses up the drug. 

Benadryl lasts for quite a while, though this depends on the weight, activity level, and overall health of your cat.

According to Honest Paws, the average feline can expect to feel the effects of a Benadryl for anywhere between 8 and 12 hours. This is based on a cat that takes two to four mg of Benadryl. 

If you’re unsure of how long Benadryl will last for our cat, you should contact your vet, as they know the specific factors that could play into this time frame. 

How Long Will It Take for the Benadryl to Kick In?

Some medications take longer to become activated. Knowing the approximate time that it takes to start working will save you from worrying if you gave your cat the right dosage. 

Medical personnel knows Benadryl under a separate name, Diphenhydramine. You may have heard this used in everyday conversation. Most associate this word with becoming drowsy. That is since it takes only a short amount of time to start kicking in. 

On average, you should expect to start seeing signs within the first 30 minutes of administering the dosage. If you do not see any changes, you may need to wait a little longer as not every cat will get drowsy immediately. 

How Can Benadryl Help My Cat?

The most common use for Benadryl in humans is as an allergy symptom reliever. It can also be found as a sleeping aid. But do owners give their cats Benadryl for the same reasons that they would medicate themselves with this drug?

You may have heard others say that Benadryl is an antihistamine. The purpose of an antihistamine, presented by Medicine Net, is to simply block histamines or chemicals from becoming active.

Histamines give way to several annoying symptoms such as sneezing, inflammation, and drowsiness. 

A somewhat familiarized misconception about antihistamines is that they stop the allergens themselves. However, This is not the case, as they merely protect your body from feeling the side effects. 

Benadryl can be used to treat several feline symptoms, most of which can be found below.

Allergies: Just as with humans, cats are prone to allergies. Benadryl can stop the symptoms before it becomes unbearable.

Skin issues: Many owners find it useful to take the edge off of wanting to scratch at their dermal layer.

Vaccine reactions: Any new medication that you expose your cat to can result in an allergic reaction. Benadryl has been known to lessen the severity of these reactions.

Pest problems: Even if you have an indoor cat, it’s not unlikely to see them be plagued by a bug bite. Benadryl will calm that sensation.

Pre-vet helper: Going to the vet’s office can be extremely stressful, making Benadryl a preferred method to calm down a feline.

Sickness: Just because cats have nine lives doesn’t mean that they can escape the common cold. Benadryl won’t stop the illness altogether, but it will minimize any sneezing or coughing that your cat experiences.

Traveling: Another use that cat owners have found beneficial is to give their worried travelers some Benadryl before the journey begins. This will calm down a cat and allow them to relax while on the road. 

You’ve probably noticed that a few Benadryl uses in cats are similar to how you would use this drug. One of the benefits includes being able to travel with your cat. With Benadryl, a feline can rest along the way. 

How Should I Go About Giving My Cat Benadryl While Traveling?

Traveling with your cat can be quite nerve-wracking, especially when they’re feeling anxious themselves. Most cats don’t commonly ride the car, making this experience stressful. To cut down on both you and your animal’s anxiety, you may want to consider using Benadryl. 

According to Pet MD, Benadryl offers relief on car trips as a mild sedative. When used during traveling, Benadryl lowers the chances of them becoming nauseous. It can also lessen the effects of motion sickness. 

There are several ways to help your cat become more comfortable with traveling before throwing them into the car. Dr. Greenway with Healthcare for Pets discusses a few ways in which you can minimize stress due to traveling. The following methods can be used in combination with Benadryl. 

  • Introduce them to the car slowly such as allowing your cat to enter the vehicle and take in all of the new stimuli
  • Take your cat on small trips before traveling for long durations
  • Provide them with a familiar scent in their traveling crate or carrier

Giving your cat Benadryl as a mild sedative is beneficial on car rides, given that you use the correct dosage.

What Is the Correct Dosage for Cats While Traveling?

To ensure that your cat stays calm and safe while on a road trip, you should first look into the correct dosage of Benadryl. The determining factor is their weight.

The general rule of thumb for administering Benadryl to a cat is that they should take 1 mg of Benadryl per pound of body mass. This does not happen once, as the effects last for only so many hours. This rule generally applies two to three times a day.

Let’s break it down a little further. If you have a cat that weighs approximately 12.5 pounds, then you should take that number and convert it to mg of Benadryl. When dividing 12.5 by half, you get 6.25. This is a number that would be extremely difficult to measure. The easiest way of looking at it is to take a 25 mg Benadryl pill and cut it in half.

If your cat is smaller than ten pounds, then you may find it even harder to give them the exact dosage that they need for their weight. In this situation, you may want to look into the liquid form of Benadryl.

As with any new medication, we do recommend that you contact your veterinarian if you’re at all unsure about the dosage and application.

Would It Be Easier to Give My Cat Liquid Benedryl?

Using tablets can be troublesome, especially if you need to cut them down to small sizes for the correct dosage. Some animals don’t fall for the pill-treat dispensers, refusing to take their Benadryl. To avoid the fuss, cat owners have resorted to other options such as liquid Benadryl.

There are a few advantages to giving your cat Benadryl in the form of a liquid. Certapet identifies a few of these benefits.

  • Liquid Benadryl is easier to give to your animal as you can put it into their food, water, or treats, without being caught.
  • The correct dosage is much easier to get to the exact portion since you don’t need to cut pills up.

You can buy a high-end product of liquid cat Benadryl, or you could simply use a cheaper option. Most cat owners are recommended to simply use children’s Benadryl for their feline. You simply need to consider that your cat’s dosage will be different than what the bottle reads.

Children’s liquid Benadryl is usually sold in bottles with 12.5 mg/teaspoon. If you have a 12.5-pound cat, then you’ll give them 1 teaspoon for each dose. Liquid Benadryl does last a while longer than the pill form and should be given every 8 to 12 hours a day.

The Franklin Animal Clinic in Pennsylvania has provided a dose calculator where you simply put your pet’s weight into the excel file and it will calculate the recommended dose.

Benadryl also comes in the form of a spray. Owners who have cats with skin conditions tend to use this method. Benadryl sprays are quite effective in soothing itching and keeping rashes from becoming worse.

What Are the Side Effects for Cats Who Take Benadryl?

Before you give your cat a dose of Benadryl, you need to understand the various side effects that can happen. If you continue to see one or more of these effects for an extended period, then consider contacting your vet immediately.

The potential side effects for cats that take Benadryl include the following:

Hyperactive: You know your cat best. If you notice that they’re more sensitive and excitable, it may be because of the dose.

Diarrhea and vomiting: Not every cat’s stomach positively responds to Benadryl. Excessive vomiting and diarrhea may lead to dehydration.

Urinary differences: Depending on how your cat’s body reacts, you may notice him/her urinating more or less frequently.

Appetite loss: This is one of the most common side effects found in animals and can lead to drastic weight loss.

Drowsiness: Acting as a mild sedative, your cat may be sleepier than usual.

Dry mouth: If you notice that your cat’s mouth is unusually dry, it may be a result of the Benadryl dose.

Why Is My Cat Foaming at the Mouth After Taking Benadryl?

Benadryl is a mild sedative that helps with many issues that your cat may have. Just as with any other medication, however, there are side effects. Among the scariest is foaming at the mouth.

After giving their cat Benadryl, some owners have noticed that their cat started foaming at the mouth. This side effect, though quite alarming, is not a cause for concern.

When they try something that tastes off. It’s odd, but this is a defense mechanism. Benadryl is quite unpleasant to taste, making it somewhat frequent for cats to have this side effect.

If you notice that your cat starts foaming after taking Benadryl, remain calm and clean it up. You shouldn’t be worried about it unless it continues for more than an hour. Symptoms that last longer should be seen by a veterinarian.

How to Sedate a Cat With Benadryl