We often come across cats that do not enjoy travel. These cats get stressed and like to stick to their routine. They do not like change and love to stay in their home turf. There are also many cats who have no problem with traveling and they are easy and fun as your travel companion. But if you have a cat who gets anxious and stressed during travel, your cat needs more care. A viable option is cat sedation.
You can make the road trip less scary for your cat. A lot of cats prefer to hide in dark, confined places whenever they are scared and these places make them feel safe.
By placing a dark piece of cloth on the carrier, you can help the cat feel safe and hidden.
Only use a thin cloth because the respiratory rate of the cat will skyrocket when she is nervous or scared. Try taking your cat for a short ride in the car to get her to accept the new space.
Reward the cat once you reach home.
The purpose of the practice is to get your cat to associate being inside a car for something other than a visit to the vet. Only plan long car rides with cats when you think that your feline friend is ready.
This might not work well with all the cats and if you notice that the cat is anxious and stressed after several car rides, the only way you can travel is by considering sedation.
Sleeping pills, diphenhydramine, and benzodiazepines are a few things you can use for cat sedation for travel. It is recommended to visit the vet before you administer your cat any sedatives. If not administered properly, they can cause serious problems.
Table of Contents
8 ways to calm your cat for travel
Let’s get into the variety of ways to calm your cat for travel.
There are sleeping pills for cats and vets often use them before performing surgery. The medicine to calm cats for travel has a sedative effect on the cat.
You can purchase the pills on Amazon and in a pet store. It is not recommended to purchase the pills on your own due to the possible negative side effects.
Use a prescription before you buy them because choosing random pills on the internet can worsen the cat’s traveling sickness.
Do not give your cat sleeping pills for humans
A lot of people might tell you that using sleeping pills for humans on the cat is fine, but it is not. Even a small dosage can be harmful to the cat and could become lethal in some cases.
All cats have a different sleeping cycle as compared to humans and giving them human sleeping pills can disturb their natural sleeping cycle.
When traveling with your cat, sleeping pills should be the last resort. If you need to use them, please consult the vet before buying any pills. Veterinarians prescribe pills that are safe so you do not need to worry about the negative side effects.
It is recommended to use sleeping pills only in situations when there is no other way to calm your cat.
Types of cat sedatives
It is important to know what are cat sedatives before you use them. Cat sedation for travel can help your cat sleep or remain calm during a long flight or car ride. It is an effective way to keep the cat calm when traveling.
Many sedatives are specially designed for cats while others contain certain ingredients that are present in anti-anxiety medicines for humans. Speak to your vet before sedating your cat for travel.
Mentioned below are different types of sedatives for cats.
Used for humans and animals as sedatives, benzodiazepines are a different class of drugs. They can also be used as anti-anxiety and muscle relaxant medication.
When this drug is used on your cat, it will increase the release and facilitation of neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid activity. It will keep your kitty relaxed and slightly sleepy.
Check with the vet before you use the drug on the cat. In case your cat is suffering from a liver or kidney disease, you cannot use this medication.
It is only available by prescription and can have some side effects like vomiting, nausea, aggression, or agitation.
This is an over the counter drug with the main ingredient as Benadryl which helps in cat sedation for travel. The dosage is very low than that administered to humans. It is often recommended for cats that suffer from travel anxiety.
Diphenhydramine will make the cat feel relaxed and can also be used to treat motion sickness in cats.
It is recommended to consult a doctor about the dosage and how to best administer it. Cats that suffer from high blood pressure, glaucoma, or have prostate problems and difficulty in urinating should be given this drug.
If the vet approves of this drug for your cat, it is best to start 24 hours before the trip for the drug to take effect.
An over the counter medicine, Chlorpheniramine is used for cold and allergies in humans. It also helps prevent symptoms of allergy in cats. It has a side effect of drowsiness which makes it ideal for sedating the car for the duration of the trip.
The medicine does not require a prescription but it is recommended to consult a vet before administering it. The most common dosage is 1 to 2 milligrams every 8 to 12 hours.
It may take a couple of hours for the drug to take effect, hence plan the trip accordingly.
The medicine is available in a pill and liquid form.
An inexpensive drug, Gabapentin was developed to cure seizures in humans and it also helps treat neuropathic pain in dogs, cats, and humans. The good thing about the drug is that it does not have a very strong taste and the cat might not realize she is taking any medication.
It is best to administer it two 2 hours before the trip and the dosage will vary from cat to cat. There is a very strong effect of sedation and holds up to 8 hours.
Watch out for any side effects including vomiting, vomiting ataxia, and a rise in salivation.
Clonidine is a sedative that is used as a muscle relaxant and for pain relief in cats and dogs. It stimulates the alpha adrenoreceptors in the brain and has an impact on the blood vessels, nervous system, blood pressure, and heart rate.
You can only buy the drug by prescription for cat sedation for travel and it has a mild effect so you do not need to worry about the cat being completely out of herself. It will take up to 3 hours for the drug to take effect.
See Related: Best Travel Trailers for Couples
Serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitors are often used to cure anxiety disorders in dogs and cats. Trazodone is one such drug and it has been used to sedate cats before veterinary exams.
You MUST consult with the vet before you decide to use the drug on your cat. The drug is fairly safe but if the cat has a heart condition, it can lead to a cardiac arrest. It will take effect very quickly and the dosage varies on the weight of the cat.
It takes up to 12 hours for the drug to dissipate.
Other alternatives to sleeping pills for cats
Cat sedation for travel should be the last resort. It only makes sense to use sedatives if the cat suffers from high travel sickness or anxiety. You can also consider less synthetic options like using pet calming collars.
They release natural cat hormones that will make the cat feel relaxed and safe. Alternatively, you can use herbs that have a calming effect. Let us go over both the options in detail.
Designed for cats that tend to be anxious, scared, or stressed in situations like traveling, the calming collars are easy and convenient to use. It is an innovative solution that helps modify stress-related behavior in cats through good behavior pheromone technology.
With this technology, the collar emits a pheromone that a mother cat produces to calm and reassure her kittens. The collar also has ingredients like chamomile and lavender that provide a soothing fragrance and it helps the cat deal with fearful situations.
It is best to use the collars when traveling with cats in car long distance.
To use the collar, you simply need to place it around the cat’s neck and adjust it to fit the neck comfortably. You need to leave about 2 to 3 inches for adjustment. Once the collar is placed, you need to cut off the excess portion of the collar.
You will notice that white powder is released from the collar. It is this powder that will activate and free the pheromones. Wash your hands after placing the collar around the cat’s neck.
You need to remove the calming collar before you bathe or shampoo the cat and if you want to apply again, simply seal the collar in a plastic bag to prolong the effect.
If you notice that the cat behaves strangely after wearing the collar, remove it immediately to avoid any negative effects.
See Related: 13 Reasons Why Traveling is Important
If you do not want to use any medication on your cat, you can consider using calming herbs and flower essences. You can use herbs like catnip that give an energy boost to the cat.
Give her catnip fifteen minutes before you hit the road and once she is done running around, she will remain calm throughout the journey. It is a natural cat sedative for travel.
Chamomile also has a calming effect on the cat. The cat should be exposed to dried flowers.
It has substances that act on the same area of the brain as an anti-anxiety drug.
An ideal way to administer the herbs is by putting them in the tube collar. The cat will benefit from the relaxing properties of the herbs and will not over ingest them. You can also use a cat tranquilizer for the purpose.
If your cat does not like traveling, it is best to let her stay at home. However, if it is necessary for you to take your cat with you, the first thing you should do is consult the vet on how to calm down a cat in the car.
There are different alternatives and it is up to you to decide which option is the best for your cat.
Remember to place some familiar items in the car while traveling so as to make the journey comfortable for your companion. You can put a blanket with your scent and some of her favorite toys.
Talk to her in a calm voice and let her smell you by placing your hand in the carrier. Be around the cat during the first trip and if you notice any change in the behavior or health, you need to contact the vet immediately.
Do not use herbs or any medication without consulting the vet.
Cat sedation for travel is not an ideal option if you travel frequently. You need to look for ways to get your cat to get used to the idea of travel by taking her for short trips.
If you notice that your cat gets very stressed and does not enjoy sitting in the carrier at all, you might have to look for ways to leave your cat behind.
It might not sound like a good idea but it could be best for the cat.
Via Travelers is a modern travel blog providing the best tips, hacks, and itineraries to ensure you have an amazing adventure.