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Mastering Cat Travel: A Deep Dive into Cat Sedative for Travel

  • 11 min read
As cat parents, we’re always concerned about our kitty friends’ well-being, especially when traveling. This concern often leads us to contemplate ‘cat tranquilization for travel‘. But is it the right decision? Let’s dive into the details.

Table of Contents

Are Sedatives Safe for Cats?

The question of safety is paramount when considering cat sedatives. The answer, however, is not black and white. Sedatives can be safe for cats, provided they are prescribed by a qualified pet doctor and administered correctly. But like any medication, they can also have side effects, some of which can be severe.
cat sedation for travel

Should You Give Your Cat a calmative for Travel?

Whether or not to calm your cat for travel depends on various factors, such as your cat’s health, age, and level of anxiety. Tranquilization might be the best option if your cat suffers from extreme travel anxiety or fear of travel. However, it’s always crucial to consult with your vet before deciding.

How Do I Know that My Cat is Stressed?

Signs of stress in cats can include excessive meowing, panting, drooling, aggression, or a behavior change. If you are traveling with your cat, and she is exhibiting such symptoms, she might be experiencing travel anxiety. Understanding these signs can help you decide if a sedative for travel could be beneficial. For further assistance, you should talk to your pet doctor.
cat seems stressed or anxious

Types of Cat Calmatives to Calm Your Cat

Your vet might recommend several types of cat relaxants, each with its own benefits and potential side effects. Here’s a more in-depth look at the most common ones:


This is a medication initially developed for treating seizures in humans, but it’s now commonly used as a mild sedative and pain reliever for cats. Gabapentin can reduce anxiety and promote relaxation, making it a good choice for cats that are mild to moderately anxious about travel.


This is a strong sedative and tranquillizer often used for major pet procedures. While effective, Acepromazine can have significant side effects, including a drop in blood pressure and changes in behavior, so it’s typically used as a last resort for extreme cases of travel anxiety.


This class of drugs, which includes Diazepam (Valium) and Alprazolam (Xanax), can help to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. However, they can also cause side effects like increased appetite, aggression, and in some cases, paradoxical excitement (where the cat becomes more agitated instead of calming down). It’s important to note that not all cats react the same way to sedatives, and what works for one cat may not work for another. Always consult your vet to determine the best sedative for your cat’s needs.

Natural Cat Sedatives

For those who prefer a more natural approach, several options can help to soothe your cat’s anxiety:

Kitty Pheromones:

Synthetic aroma compounds, such as Feliway, mimic the natural aroma compounds produced by cats and can create a sense of familiarity and security. These can be used in a spray or diffuser form, especially in the carrier or car, during travel.

Herbal remedies:

Certain herbs, such as chamomile, valerian, and catnip, have calming effects on some cats. These can be found in various forms, including sprays, chews, and capsules. However, not all cats will respond to these remedies, and some may even have the opposite reaction, so testing these before the actual travel day is essential.

CBD Oil:

Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, derived from the hemp plant, has been gaining popularity for its potential calming effects. However, research on its use in cats is still limited, so consult your vet before trying this option.

Cat Sedatives vs Anti-Anxiety Medication for Travel

While cat relaxants work by reducing a cat’s physical activity, anti-anxiety medications work on a neurological level to reduce feelings of anxiety. Some common anti-anxiety drugs for cats include Fluoxetine (Prozac) and Clomipramine (Clomicalm). A pet doctor must prescribe these medications, and they usually require several weeks to take effect, so they’re more suitable for long-term anxiety management rather than a quick fix for travel. However, for cats with severe travel anxiety,

How to Sedate Your Cat for Travel Safely

Ensuring safety while calming your cat for travel involves several steps:

Consult a Pet Doctor:

Your pet doctor knows your cat’s medical history and can provide the best advice on whether tranquilization is necessary and what type would be most suitable. They’ll also guide you on the correct dosage to ensure your cat’s safety.

Trial Run:

Before you travel, doing a trial run with the sedative at home is beneficial. Monitor your cat’s reaction to the drug, observe for any side effects, and understand how long it takes for the medicine to take effect and wear off. This information can be crucial for planning your travel schedule.

Monitor Your Kitty:

Even after the initial trial run, continue to monitor your cat on the day of travel closely. Look out for any signs of discomfort or adverse side effects. If anything seems off, don’t hesitate to contact a pet doctor.

Keep Familiar Items Close:

Even with tranquilization, travel can be a stressful experience for cats. Having familiar items like their favorite blanket or toy can provide a sense of security and comfort.

Avoid Feeding Just Before Travel:

Some relaxants can cause nausea or vomiting, so it’s usually recommended to avoid feeding your cat right before travel. However, this can depend on the specific medication and your cat’s medical history, so consult your pet doctor.

Side Effects of Sedation in Cats

Like any medication, cat relaxants can have side effects. While these vary depending on the type of relaxant used, typical side effects can include:


This is the most common side effect of relaxants. While it can be beneficial for travel, excessive sleepiness can also cause problems, especially if your cat needs to move around or use the litter box.

Loss of Balance:

Sedatives often affect a cat’s coordination and balance. This can be a significant concern if your cat needs to be mobile during or after the journey.

Change in Behavior:

Some cats might become agitated or aggressive due to the disorienting effects of tranquilization. This is more common with certain types of relaxants, like Acepromazine.

Physical Symptoms:

In some cases, relaxants can cause physical symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, or slow heart rate. In rare cases, relaxants can cause respiratory distress or an allergic reaction. Knowing these potential side effects can help you decide whether sedation is the right choice for your cat. It also emphasizes the importance of close monitoring whenever a sedative is used.

Final thoughts on cat relaxant for travel 

While cat tranquilization for travel can seem like a viable solution for travel anxiety, it’s essential to consider all options and consult a vet before deciding. Medication should be a last resort, used only when all other options to reduce anxiety have been explored and found ineffective. Remember, every cat is unique. What works for one might not work for another. Your primary goal should always be to ensure your cat’s comfort and safety during travel. Happy travels! For more tips on making travel easier for your cat, check out our cat travel tips.

Cat tranquilization for travel – FAQs 

Q: What are the common types of relaxants for cats?

A: The most common types of relaxants include neurontin, Acepromazine, and Benzodiazepines. Natural options like synthetic pheromones and herbal remedies are also available.

Q: Are sedatives safe for my cat?

A: Yes, when administered correctly and under the guidance of a pet doctor, relaxants can be safe. However, they can have side effects and should only be used when necessary.

Q: Can I calm my cat for travel without consulting a pet doctor?

A: No, you should always consult with a pet doctor before giving your cat any form of relaxant. They can guide you on the correct relaxant and dosage for your cat.

Q: What should I do if my kitty experiences side effects from a relaxant?

A: If your cat shows signs of distress or adverse side effects, seek veterinary help immediately.

Q: Are there natural alternatives to relaxants for cats?

A: Yes, synthetic pheromones, herbal remedies, and CBD oil can serve as natural alternatives to pharmaceutical relaxants.

Q: How can I help my cat feel relax during car travel?

A: You can help your kitty feel relax during car travel by making sure the cat carrier is comfortable and familiar to your feline friend. Additionally, you can try using relaxing pheromone sprays or treats designed for cats to help reduce anxiety in cats during car rides.

Q: Is it safe to sedate a cat for travel?

A: It’s important to consult with your veterinarian prior to travel to discuss the option of tranquilization for your cat. Sedating a cat for travel should only be done under the guidance and prescription of a qualified veterinary professional to ensure the safety and well-being of your pet.

Q: How can I keep my cat calm during long car rides?

A: To keep your cat relax during long car rides, you can create a comfortable and secure environment within the cat carrier or crate. Additionally, taking breaks during the journey to allow your cat some fresh air and movement can help alleviate anxiety in cats during extended car travel.

Q: What sedative options are available for traveling with my cat?

A: There are various sedative options designed for cats that can help keep your feline friend relaxed during travel. Your veterinarian can recommend appropriate relaxants that are safe and suitable for your cat’s specific needs and health condition.

Q: Can I sedate my cat for airline travel?

A: Airline travel with pets requires careful consideration and preparation. It’s essential to consult with your veterinarian and the airline regarding the use of relaxants for your cat during air travel, as regulations and safety guidelines may vary.

Q: How can I help my cat sleep during plane travel?

A: To help your cat sleep during plane travel, you can create a quiet and comfortable environment within the cat carrier or crate. Providing familiar bedding and using relaxing aids, as recommended by your veterinarian, can also contribute to a more restful journey for your feline friend.

Q: What should I do prior to travel to prepare my cat for the journey?

A: Prior to travel, it’s essential to ensure that your cat is healthy and up-to-date with necessary vaccinations and health certifications, especially for airline travel. Additionally, discussing any travel anxiety in cats with your veterinarian and considering appropriate sedation options can help make the journey more comfortable for your pet.

Q: Is it common for cats to experience anxiety during car travel?

A: Many cats may experience travel anxiety, particularly during car rides or unfamiliar environments. Understanding your cat’s behavioral cues and seeking guidance from a veterinarian can help address and alleviate anxiety in cats during travel.

Q: Can I use over-the-counter medications like Benadryl to relax my cat during travel?

A: Using over-the-counter medications like Benadryl to relax your cat for travel should be done under the advice and supervision of a veterinarian. It’s important to ensure that any medication administered is safe, appropriate, and has the desired sedative effect for your cat’s well-being.

Q: What are some tips for keeping my cat relax and relaxed during pet travel?

A: To keep your cat relax and relaxed during pet travel, you can introduce positive associations with the travel carrier, provide familiar comforts such as toys and bedding, and maintain a relax demeanor as a pet parent. Additionally, seeking professional guidance on tranquilization for travel and creating a stress-free environment can help make the journey more manageable for your cat.

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Anum Basit

Anum Basit

Anum Basit is the founder of PurrfectJourney, a cat travel blog that provides expert insights and advice for cat owners who love to travel. As a lifelong cat lover, Anum has gained extensive knowledge and experience in the field of cat travel. She understands the unique challenges that cat owners face when traveling with their feline companions and is committed to providing informative and engaging content that helps them navigate these challenges with ease. Anum's passion for cat travel has inspired her to create a platform where cat owners can find valuable information and resources for traveling with their furry friends. Follow her on PurrfectJourney for the latest insights and tips on cat travel!