Traveling With Your Cat

Cat Sedatives For Travel: 7 Things To Know

Cat Sedatives 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.

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?

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.

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.

You can also read:

  • I’m Travelling. 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. It 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.

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.

Herbal Sedatives

Some herbs have sedative effects on cats , and you can discuss this option with your vet.

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

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

  • Increased aggression
  • 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

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.

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.

  • 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.

cat travel tablets

Hi, This is Alexa, and I love cats. This Website is a Complete Journal about how to travel with a cat and other information about Cat Health, Cat Training, Cat Behavior, Cat Foods and more. I hope you find it useful.


Cat sedative for travel: 10 prescription & over the counter options.

Traveling with cats can get pretty hairy, leading many owners to wonder about a cat sedative for travel. There are several options to choose from, both prescription and over the counter. Read on to learn more about when sedating a kitty is appropriate, and what the options are.

Danielle DeGroot

Last Updated: December 18, 2023 | 9 min read

Cat sleeping on top of a black suitcase

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Traveling with cats is a hairy business, as many felines do not take well to the motion of being in the car. Cats experience anxiety when traveling, but sometimes it is absolutely necessary. When this situation arises, owners often ask about a cat sedative for travel. These medications can help reduce anxiety and make traveling more enjoyable for both felines and their human companions.

Traveling is stressful and can induce anxiety for owners and their purr babies. There are a few different choices when it comes to cat sedatives, and some are only available through a prescription from your veterinarian. Owners have over-the-counter options they can consider as well.

Whenever giving your cat a new medication, whether prescription or over-the-counter, it is important to discuss your concerns with your veterinarian beforehand. Take some time to research the options and learn about the side effects. Let’s get started and go a little deeper into the subject of the best cat sedative for travel.

Medicine To Calm Cats For Travel

Many humans need to take medication for traveling due to nausea, car sickness, fear , and anxiety. Felines can often experience similar symptoms or simply may be very uncomfortable and show some outbursts of unusual behavior. For several reasons, kitties might need sedatives in the car, bus, or train. Some felines are naturally anxious or fearful, while others may have had a negative experience in the past, such as a car accident or a scary trip to the vet.

Common reasons for sedation in cats during travel include:

  • Travel anxiety
  • Motion sickness
  • Aggression or fear towards other animals
  • Agitation during veterinary visits

In some cases, sedation may be necessary during travel for a cat’s safety. Cats may become agitated and afraid during a trip, causing them to want to run and hide. In some cases, they may get aggressive toward their owners. Turning to a sedative, anti-anxiety medication, or over-the-counter treatment may help.

Medicine to calm cats during travel can be prescription or over the counter. There are a few different remedies owners can try, and one should never be afraid to speak with your veterinarian about this. All sedatives, even over-the-counter ones, come with potential side effects, and it is essential to consult your veterinarian before administering any sedative to your cat. Some of the most common side effects of sedatives include:

  • Drowsiness and lethargy
  • Loss of coordination
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Disorientation

Kitties who start vomiting, have diarrhea, difficulty breathing, increased aggression, slow heart rate, or other symptoms may be experiencing a bad reaction to sedation.

Prescription Sedatives

There are a few different types of feline sedatives that veterinarians can prescribe. What your veterinarian will choose to use will depend on your specific kitty, her health, and her age, as well as the specific circumstances of your trip plans. Your vet will detail the correct dose for your cat. Always follow proper dosing instructions.

Bottle of Gabapentin on a blue background

Gabapentin is only available by prescription and is the generic name for this drug. It is commonly prescribed to kitties for traveling and works as both a sedative and to help with anxiety. Gabapentin is commonly used to treat seizures and neuropathic pain. However, it can also be used as a sedative in felines. Gabapentin works by binding to a specific type of calcium channel in the brain, which helps reduce nerve activity.

It is also used as an anticonvulsant drug to treat seizures and chronic pain in humans. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration , veterinarian use of this drug is not listed on the label but is allowed. This is called “off-label.” While often prescribed for pain management and seizures, it can also be used to treat anxiety and as a sedative during travel.

Depressed cat looking out the window

Trazodone is an antidepressant that is commonly prescribed to sedate a kitty for traveling. This drug works to ease anxiety by regulating the level of serotonin, a neurotransmitter, in the brain. Serotonin promotes a sense of well-being. This works as both a sedative and to reduce anxiety. This drug is tolerated well by cats but should not be used in felines that have liver, heart, or kidney concerns. Trazodone is generally used in the short term and is also prescribed during orthopedic recovery periods.


Benzodiazepines are a group of drugs that are often used to treat anxiety and insomnia. They work by enhancing the effects of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. The increased level of this neurotransmitter works to keep the cat relaxed. Examples of benzodiazepines commonly used in cats include diazepam (Valium) and lorazepam (Ativan). Benzodiazepines are also medications commonly taken in humans. Kitties must take a much smaller amount. These are only available by prescription and should not be used for kitties that suffer from liver or kidney disease or those who are pregnant.

Clonidine is a medication commonly used to treat behavioral disorders such as separation anxiety, loud noise phobia, and anxiety surrounding travel, veterinary visits, or medical treatment. This drug works to soothe anxiety and is helpful as a pain reliever and muscle relaxer. In some cases, it is used to treat inflammatory bowel disease.

Over The Counter Cat Sedative For Traveling

If you do not want to go to the vet and put your kitty on a prescription sedative for travel, you will be happy to hear that several over-the-counter options are often very effective . Of course, discussing using any of these with your veterinarian beforehand is important to ensure it’s safe for your kitty’s unique health needs.

Benadryl (Diphenhydramine)

Benadryl, a commonly used medication for humans, can also be used for cats to calm them during a trip. It is not a sedative. Rather, this is an antihistamine that can have a sedative effect . This is available over the counter. Diphenhydramine, the active antihistamine ingredient, is safe for healthy adult felines over six months old. Speak with your veterinarian about the correct dosage. Usually, the dose will be about 1 mg per pound of weight. This may be given up to three times a day. However, discussing your cat’s individual dose with the vet first is best.

Melatonin is hormone felines produce naturally. It is secreted from the pineal gland and occurs in response to dark or dimming light. Melatonin helps the body regulate sleeping and waking habits . When increased by supplements, it can help with soothing anxiety and as a mild sedative. Melatonin comes in liquid, pill, and capsule form, as well as in calming treats and chews. It is very effective for short-term use and in situations like travel. It can interact with some medications, so always discuss it with your vet before adding this to your kitty’s regimen.

CBD Hemp Food Delicacy for Dogs and Cats in dishes with the green leaf of hemp close up

Cannabidiol (CBD) can be used to calm cats down and may have a mild sedative effect. It can be found in oils as well as CBD treats and is safe for feline use. CBD can help with anxiety, overactivity, and anxiety and has been used as an anti-inflammatory. Some products mix CBD and melatonin for a stronger effect.

Bach Rescue Remedy

Bach Rescue Remedy is a natural remedy that contains flower essences that are thought to help reduce anxiety. This product is available in a liquid form that can be added to water or food. Though the rescue remedy does not cause drowsiness, it has a calming effect, making travel easier for them.

Feliway is a synthetic copy of a pheromone that cats produce when they feel safe and secure. These pheromones work naturally and have a calming effect. Feliway is available in a spray or diffuser and can be used to help reduce anxiety during car rides. This also comes as a spray, collar, and in wipes. This product is drug-free, which appeals to many owners.

Zylkene is a veterinary supplement made from alpha-casozepine, derived from cow’s milk. T his non-drowsy formula has been shown to help balance out the stress reactions of cats and dogs. Lactose and preservative-free. This comes in a capsule form that owners can open and sprinkle on food or in water. This one does not work right away, so owners must start giving it about 5 to 7 days before a trip.

Cat Tranquilizer For Travel

A veterinarian must prescribe tranquilizers. These should only be used in very extreme situations. Tranquilizers most often require an injection to be administered. These are usually used before anesthesia. Injectable tranquilizers are rarely prescribed for travel and are usually only done in special circumstances. These are more commonly used in a medical setting.

Acepromazine maleate is a feline tranquilizer that is used by vets. This is injected into a vein, under the skin, or in a muscle and takes about 45 minutes to work. It can be given in tablet form in some circumstances. Most often, it’s used in a clinical setting. Acepromazine is a tranquilizer that works by decreasing the activity of the central nervous system. This drug is often used before surgery or for long-distance travel.

Lidocaine hydrochloride, also called lidocaine HCL, is another injectable feline tranquilizer. Lidocaine HCL is used by vets as a local anesthetic that gives an epidural-like effect. It can be used to numb an area before stitches and is used to treat an irregular heartbeat in some kitties.

How To Give Your Cat A Sedative

There is no one specific way to give a kitty a sedative. The method is often dependent on the sedative used. Some may need to be wrapped in a treat, pill pocket, or hidden in food . Others can be sprinkled into water or on kibble. Discuss the instructions with your veterinarian to ensure you give your kitty the proper dose.

Should I Sedate My Cat For Flying On A Plane?

Sedating cats for flying is not recommended . Of course, it may be appropriate for an individual pet, but in general, this is not a common practice. This is partly because felines cannot regulate their body temperature when sedated, and most of the time, pets are not flying next to their owners. Sedation lowers heart rate and respiration and leaves kitties unable to brace against shifts in the cabin. Sedation is not a great idea if your kitty cannot be supervised the entire plane ride.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) explains that sedating felines during flight can increase their risk of respiratory distress and heart concerns. It is rather unusual for a vet to recommend fully sedating a kitty for flying, and some airlines will not accept sedated pets.

How To Calm Cats While Traveling

Cat in a crate at night

Even with sedation or calming aids, felines can still experience anxiety and excitement while traveling. Owners can employ a few different methods to help calm them. Most kitties eventually calm down and fall asleep during car rides but may act up during stops or when left alone in a vehicle.

  • Crating your kitty is advisable for riding in the car or any other form of transportation. This is for her safety and yours. Keep a soft blanket, treats, and toys inside the crate to keep your kitty occupied. Consider a travel appropriate litter box as well.
  • If going on a long trip, practice traveling with your cat ahead of time. You can start by taking short car rides to get her used to the movement and sensation.
  • Try out calming methods and aids before traveling. This is important to see how your pet reacts and if there are any negative side effects.
  • Try to keep yourself calm, at least while your pet can sense your feelings. She will model her behavior after you; if you stay calm, this will help her do the same.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are cat sedatives safe.

Yes, when given properly and in the right way, these are safe for kitties. Owners should consult with a vet and always follow dosing instructions.

How will I know if I should sedate my cat for travel?

This is a hard question to answer because there is no one correct answer for everyone. This depends on your pet, her needs, and your travel situation. Discuss it with your vet early rather than right before your trip if you are concerned. You will need to do some research and prepare ahead of time to make travel a safe and enjoyable experience for yourself and your purr baby.

Can kittens have sedatives?

Kittens under six months should not be given sedatives . It’s always best to avoid sedating kittens if possible; most vets advise against it. Training your purr baby to tolerate traveling rather than relying on sedatives, especially for kittens, is better.

How long do cat sedatives last?

This will depend on the sedative, the dose, and how often a dose is given. Additionally, felines react differently, so what has a strong effect on one may not do the same with another. Doing a trial run before travel is a good idea to see how your pet reacts to sedation and how long the effects last.

Final Thoughts

Sedating a cat for car travel is a common way owners can make travel less fear-inducing for cats. There are both prescription and over-the-counter options. Not all work the same for every kitty, so owners will need to keep that in mind. The type of sedative that will work best for your pet depends on several factors, including the severity of their anxiety and any underlying medical conditions. Prescription sedatives are generally the most effective and tailored to your cat’s needs. However, over-the-counter sedatives can be useful for mild anxiety or cats that experience mild discomfort or whose owners only need the sedative for traveling purposes.

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How to Sedate a Cat for Travel

How to Sedate a Cat for Travel

It’s no big secret that travel and cats don’t always mix. As creatures of habit, many cats love the constancy of home and the routine that it provides. While some felines can be trained to get used to traveling, most aren’t fond of change and will get stressed easily. Even if they do become accustomed to regular travel, some cats will still express anxiety by meowing, scratching, drooling, or panting.

As a pet owner, the last thing you want is for your poor cat to have a full-blown panic attack while you’re on the go. Thankfully, there are ways to sedate your cat and ease their travel stress. These include calming devices, natural herbs, and ensuring their travel crate is as comfortable as possible. Commercial sedatives can also be safely used, but vets recommend these as a last resort because of the potential side effects.

If you’re about to embark on a road (or air) trip with your feline, below are some of the best ways to sedate your cat for the journey ahead.

Talk to Your Vet

Do a few pre-trip tests, do not give your cat human sleeping pills, calming collars, thundershirt, pheromone wipes & spray, soothing herbs, benzodiazepines, chlorpheniramine, diphenhydramine (benadryl), final thoughts.

Before you undergo the task of sedating your cat, it’s worth speaking to your vet first. If they know your cat’s temperament, they can also advise on the best means of sedation—whether it’s a prescription or something more natural. Even if you opt for alternative methods, it’s a good idea to acquire a prescription in case the other methods don’t work and your cat decides to freak out mid-journey!

If you’ve never traveled with your cat before, it’s advisable to do a few test runs to see how they respond. You could get lucky and end up with a Buddha-like feline who snores away and is unaffected by the movement and change of scenery. Alternatively, your cat could be the next Houdini, trying to escape at any given moment while you’re on the move.

Either way, it’s best to test your cat in the car first. If you have time, experiment with some of the sedation methods below to see how your cat responds during the test runs.

While it may be tempting to give you a cat a bit of your own sleeping pills, this must be avoided. For one thing, a cat’s sleeping cycle is very different from a human’s, and a human sleeping pill can disrupt it.

More importantly, sleeping pills designed for people can be very dangerous for your cat – or even lethal. Even a small dose of human sleeping pills could prove fatal to your cat, so if you choose to go the medical route, be sure to choose something designed for cats instead. We take a detailed look at the most popular medical sedatives below .

Natural Sedation Methods

If you want your cat to be as calm as possible on your travels, there are a variety of natural methods you can try. The benefit of these methods is that they are usually quite harmless and don’t come with an array of nasty side effects.

Calming collars are fantastic devices for anxious or fearful cats as they emit the same pheromone that mother cats produce to calm their litter of kittens. Calming collars are safe and easy to use, and they are especially good for long-distance car travel. These collars also typically come with other soothing scents such as lavender and chamomile.

Applying the collar is an easy task and requires a simple adjustment around their neck. Once you’ve fitted it, the collar will release a white powder, which activates the pheromones.

While the collar should be safe for most cats, watch out for any unusual behavior while they’re wearing it. Also, if your cat has any skin conditions or allergies, it’s best to check with your vet or do a test to make sure they don’t have an adverse reaction.

One of the more novel sedation products on the market is the ThunderShirt. Consisting of a weighted T-shirt-like blanket, the ThunderShirt applies gentle pressure to relieve anxiety.

Intended to mimic the way kittens or infants are swaddled by their mothers, this unique product is a natural way to help your cat feel more at ease. Ideal for traveling and stressful visits to the vet, the Thundershirt is one of the simplest calming methods out there.

If your cat isn’t partial to wearing shirts or collars, another option is to purchase a pheromone spray or wipe. These products can be sprayed around the car, inside the carrier, or on any blankets and items that the cat will be using during travel.

Sprays give you more control over the amount of pheromones that your cat is exposed to, and they can work as an emergency method if your kitty becomes suddenly anxious.

Herbs are another way great way to safely sedate a cat. Taking the form of tinctures, dried flowers, or oils, herbs are a natural way of calming your kitty. Below are some of the more popular options to choose from.

Catnip is by far the most well-known and popular herb used by cat owners. While catnip generally creates an intense energy boost, this herb can sedate by proxy.

In other words, if you administer the catnip and allow your cat to go crazy for 20 minutes before you leave, they’ll exhaust themselves and will be calmer for the travels ahead. If your cat isn’t terribly anxious to begin with, this method should do the trick.

Valerian is known for promoting relaxation and calmness in both cats and people. Used as a remedy for insomnia in the human world, valerian can be an effective remedy for a cat’s anxiety. Bizarrely though, valerian comes from the same family as catnip, so it initially produces the same energetic boost.

However, valerian also produces a sedating effect in some cats afterward, causing them to fall soundly asleep once they’ve gone berserk. If your cat is a bit more fearful and wired, this herb is a better option than catnip.

Chamomile is another popular herb in the human world and is often consumed as a calming tea. While chamomile produces the same relaxing effects in cats, they need to be exposed to the dry flowers for it to work. A good way to do this is to add the flowers to a tube collar so that your kitty doesn’t ingest them. Or you could find ways to store the flowers near their blanket or crate for additional exposure.

Hops are another great herb for promoting calm and relaxation in a cat. Again, it’s best to expose your cat to the dried flowers, so while beer may be the first thing on your mind, it’s best to add these to a tube collar or find ways to stash it near their blanket.

Rescue Remedy

Flower essences have long been used by humans to relieve anxiety and stress. The great news is that these therapies also work well on cats. Providing almost instant relief due to its liquid formula, Rescue Remedy is fantastic as an emergency aid or as an ongoing treatment for a fearful cat on the go. There are also alcohol-free versions if you’re concerned about kitty’s reactions.

Medical Sedatives

If your cat requires something stronger than the methods above, a medical sedative is another solution. While they sometimes come with side effects, these drugs can be used safely in moderation.

Note that some sedatives require prescriptions, so it’s best to speak to your vet about the best and safest options. Below are some of the more common types that are used.

Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs that require a prescription from your vet. Benzos act as muscle relaxants and are often used for conditions like anxiety. These drugs work by increasing gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter in the brain that causes sleepiness and relaxation. While they are safe to use, cats require a much lower dosage than a human.

Benzos can be administered orally via tablets or in liquid form. It can also be injected on-site at a vet’s office. However, there are potential side effects to be aware of, such as aggression, agitation, vomiting, and respiratory depression.

Tip: If your kitty is pregnant or has liver or kidney problems, this drug isn’t safe to use.

Chlorpheniramine is an over-the-counter drug commonly used for colds and allergies. While it is also used to treat allergies in cats, it is a useful sedative because the biggest side effect of this medication is drowsiness. However, this drug can counteract other drugs your cat might be on, so again, make sure you speak to your vet to make sure it’s safe.

Chlorpheniramine can be administered orally in tablet or liquid form. Aside from drowsiness, other potential side effects of this drug include diarrhea, vomiting, lack of appetite, and dry mouth.

Tip: This medication can take a couple of hours to take effect, so make sure you give it to your cat well ahead of your travels.

Otherwise known as Benadryl, diphenhydramine is another over-the-counter medication. As the most recommended form of sedative for cats, Benadryl performs a dual function of inducing relaxation while treating motion sickness. If your cat is anxious and gets nauseous while traveling, this is an excellent option. Like the other drugs on this list, the dosage is much smaller (about 1 mg per pound up to three times per day).

The best way to administer Benadryl is with a pill or a liquid syringe. However, bear in mind that your cat might refuse it due to the strong taste! You can disguise it in food or go to a compounding pharmacy that will flavor the Benadryl with a fish or chicken flavor instead.

This drug is most effective if you start 24 hours before your travels. The potential side effects are harmless, but they include lethargy, dry mouth, and urinary retention.

Tip: Cats that have glaucoma, high blood pressure, prostate problems, or difficulty urinating should not take diphenhydramine.

Gabapentin is also available over the counter and is an inexpensive way to sedate your cat for travel. Primarily used to treat seizures and neuropathic pain in humans, this drug is also useful as an anti-anxiety drug for pets. One of the benefits of this medication is its mild taste. Unlike Benadryl, your cat should barely notice the gabapentin if you add it to their dinner.

In terms of dosage, the recommended amount is 65mg for an average cat and 85 mg for larger cats. Sedation is quite strong, though, so you should adjust it depending on the sensitivity and size of your kitty.

Be sure to administer gabapentin at least 2 hours before travel as it takes some time to take effect. Potential side effects include vomiting and a rise in salivation.

Tip: This drug lasts for about 8 hours, which makes it an ideal treatment for long journeys. However, you should seek alternatives if you only want your cat to be dozy for a few hours.

Serotonin antagonist reuptake inhibitors (SARI) are a class of drugs used to treat anxiety in both cats and dogs. It is also used to sedate cats before stressful situations such as travel or visits to the vet.

Dosages range from 10mg to 30m depending on the size of your cat. It also takes effect in less than an hour, so you don’t need to worry about a long wait time if you’re in a hurry. Another thing to bear in mind is that it takes 12 hours for the drug to leave your cat’s system. This can be beneficial or detrimental, depending on how long you want your kitty to be sedated.

Tip: While this drug is generally safe to use, in rare cases, it can cause cardiac arrest. Therefore, we strongly suggest you speak to your vet first to make sure it’s safe for your particular cat. Other less harmful side effects include short-term lethargy and vomiting.

Clonidine is used for pain management and as a muscle relaxant for cats and dogs. Known as a central alpha 2 adrenergic agonist, clonidine works by stimulating receptors in the brain that control the heart rate and central nervous system. Clonidine is only available by prescription, though, so you’ll need to see your vet first.

One of the benefits of this drug is that it has milder effects, so you don’t need to worry about your cat being too doped up. Its potential side effects are also milder and may include dry mouth, ataxia , and constipation. The average dose of clonidine for a cat is between 0.05 mg to 0.1 mg.

Tip: Clonidine takes about 3 hours to take effect, so you’ll need to administer it well ahead of your travels.

Making Travel Safe and Comfortable

Aside from natural and commercial sedatives, it’s also important to make the journey as comfortable as possible for your feline. There are a few things you can do ahead of time to make sure your cat has the most relaxing travel experience possible.

Ensuring that your cat travels on an empty stomach can help prevent motion sickness, particularly if you’re driving. Other things that can make them more comfortable are to lay down absorbent pads in case they need to urinate or defecate on the journey.

Cats are clean creatures and will want some version of a litter tray. You could also try to use up your cat’s energy with play and running around the house before you head out. This will help them feel sleepier and more relaxed while you’re traveling.

If you’re traveling by car, make sure your cat’s carrier is big enough to stand up in, but not so vacuous that they feel exposed. Another tip is to place a thin, dark cloth over their carrier or sleeping area. This will create a mini-sanctuary or at least a place where they can feel safely hidden away. Make sure the cloth is thin to enable clear ventilation.

Other things you should do is pack water and snacks to keep your cat comfortable and fed. An emergency kit is also an excellent idea as they may experience nausea or be more stressed than expected.

Things to have in an emergency pack include calming herbs and sedatives, ointments (for potential itching), and bandages. Include a leash in there, too, as an excited or anxious cat may do well with a short walk to calm their nerves.

If you’re flying by plane, however, it will be more difficult to ensure your cat feels secure. Your best bet here is to ensure that their carrier is as comfortable as possible. Sedation will also likely be a must, especially if your cat is prone to stress or anxiety.

In some cases, it’s possible to book a seat next to you on the plane so that your cat doesn’t have to travel in the pet area. While it’s an expensive option, you may be saving your kitty from a traumatic flight.

Traveling with an anxious cat can be difficult, but it can also be made easier with planning and by implementing some of the tips above. We recommend doing a few test runs with the natural sedation methods first to see how your cat fares.

If those don’t work, visit your vet to discuss other options such as drugs or tranquilizers. While these should only be used as a last resort, they can be highly effective if you’ve got a particularly fearful feline. Good luck and enjoy your travels (with your cat)!

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Cat Sedative for Travel Everything You Need to Know

Are you considering traveling with your feline friend? If so, then you’ll love this cat sedative for travel post. I’ve done a bunch of due diligence to bring everything right to you to help you understand how to sedate your furbaby.

Cat sedation can be a great way to relieve the stress and sickness that can be caused when traveling via plane, train, or automobile. Some cats just do not do well during travel and will meow and moan the entire trip.

It’s totally possible to help calm them down and enjoy the voyage together.

cat sedative for travel

What Are Cat Sedatives?

They can either be natural or medicated over the counter products that will help keep your furry friend asleep or calm during stressful situations. Many people use these methods to help their kitty stay calm or relaxed while traveling.

There are different methods to use when sedating your kitty and we’ll be taking a look at the various methods to use.

Can I Sedate My Cat for Travel

This is a controversial topic among everyone, and yes it’s totally possible to sedate a cat. There are several over-the-counter and natural products you can use.

I’ve put together a list of a few of the options as well as the dosage amount and side effects from use.

Cat Sedative for Travel Over The Counter

Diphenhydramine (benadryl).

Contains sedative qualities that can help your cat feel more relaxed, and can even help with motion sickness.

When using this for your cat, make sure that you place your cat a familiar carrier that they’ve used. Place their favorite blanket and toy that has their scent or your scent on it.

This will help them stay relaxed as the Benadryl wears off.

Dosage: Allow 0.5 mg to 2 mg per pound every 8-12 hours.

Side Effects: Loss of appetite, a decrease in urination, drowsiness, dry mouth, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Gabapentin and Clonidine

An inexpensive medication that was originally developed to help control seizures in humans. You should give it to your cat about 1-2 hours before going to vet, traveling or whatever causes anxiety in your feline.

A single dose can last for about 12 hours.

Dosage: 100 mg or a placebo capsule containing lactose powder

Side Effects: Owners may experience their cat vomiting, suffering from ataxia , and hypersalivation all of which should be resolved within 8 hours.


It’s a low-cost antihistamine that is used to treat cat allergies. It comes in the form of capsules, tablets, and syrup. It can cause drowsiness in a cat and sometimes used as a mile sedative.

Dosage: Do not exceed 0.25 mg/per pound every 8 hours when using a sedative.

Side Effects: drowsiness, vomiting, lack of appetite, and diarrhea.

What Is A Safe Sedative for Cats?

Most owners don’t want to use medicine to dose their feline friend. As you can see above, most of them come with side effects that can make your baby feel bad.

None of the methods that I shared above have been known to cause long-term lasting side effects. Most of the side effects will wear off within 8 hours.

If not, you’ll definitely want to contact your veterinarian to have your feline friend checked out. You may also want to check with your veterinarian to see if they can prescribe pet anxiety medication to help your cat stay calm while traveling.

How Can I Naturally Sedate My Cat

If you don’t feel comfortable giving your cat over the counter medicines then here is a list of some natural sedatives to make your travel a much more pleasant experience.

Nip of Catnip

Catnip or Nepeta cataria has been known to be a great sedative for cats. Catnip contains the popular essential oil nepetalactone that is known to drive felines crazy.

Nepetalactone causes a hallucinogenic effect that is similar to LSD or marijuana. It is a member of the mint family when you crust the leaves, it has a faint scent of mint.

To use it as a sedative, you’ll want to make sure that your cat eats the catnip. If they just inhale it, they will become stimulated.

Side Effects: Catnip is completely safe for cats. However, if they consume too much, they may vomit and have diarrhea. The side effects will go away after you stop feeding them and with some time.

Kava Kava, also known as Piper methysticum , is a tropical herb that has been used as a sedative. When using it as a natural sedative for cats, make sure that you’re using it under the supervision of a veterinarian trained in natural remedies for cats.

They’ll know what dosage to use. If you use too much, Kava Kava can be toxic to the liver. Do not give it to your cat if they are pregnant or have liver problems.

Side Effects: Can be toxic to the liver if given the wrong dose.

Cat Stress Relief From Feliway

Feliway is clinically proven, and veterinary recommended. It is a natural product that is used for calming anxiety behavior in cats. You’ll want to place the diffuser where your kitty spends most of the time.

Make sure that you add the synthetic pheromone into the device. Once your cat is exposed to the diffuser it helps calm them and can even be used as a cat tranquilizer.

Side Effects: None

Rescue Remedy

This is a commercial product that is marketed for calming cats. The product contains botanical essences of flowers such as Clematis, which is known to help anxiety in cats.

Add it to their food before your trip and this will help calm your kitty.

More Cat Travel Tips

These are some great tips is you’re taking a long road trip with your feline.

How Long Does A Sedative Last On A Cat?

Most sedatives will last between 8-12 hours. Before giving your cat any type of sedative, make sure that you understand the proper dosage.

If you’re not sure of which sedative to use, don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian. They will be able to guide you in traveling safely with your feline member of the household.

How Do I Calm My Cat On A Road Trip

If you’re going on a short road trip, according to Amazing Wellness, you can smear butter, tuna juice or meat baby food on your cats front paws.

They’ll go into grooming mode and will automatically calm down.

You can also try playing with them. Getting a cat to play can take their mind of the stressful situation and help them relax.

Just spend time with them. Your kitty is anxious because they are in an unfamiliar surrounding. Taking some time out to let them know everything is okay, can help them relax.

Conclusion Cat Sedation for Travel

Being a cat lover doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t enjoy going on vacations or taking long car trips. Hopefully, these tips can help you make your cat less stressful when traveling.

Felines are not used to traveling, but hopefully, some of the tips on this article can aid you in calming your pet.

Related Articles

  • Can You Mix Catnip With Cat Food ?
  • Feline Anxiety
  • How Long Can A Cat Go Without Food or Water ?

References and Further Reading

VetInfo – Managing Cat Travel Anxiety With Diphenhydramine

Dr. Dawn Ruben – Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) for Dogs and Cats

Julia Wilson – Catnip (Nepeta Cataria) Everything You Need to Know

Vera Tweed – Calming Pet Anxiety

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Cat Sedatives: When and How to Use Them

Even the calmest of cats may feel stressed, nervous, or fearful in certain situations. 

This can lead to a variety of issues, including inability to perform a veterinary exam or grooming. With severe or long-term stress, quality of life can be impacted. Anxiety in cats can even contribute to physical illness.

Below we discuss common situations when cat sedatives may be helpful, and how to use them safely and effectively.

When Do Cats Need Sedation?

In some short-term situations — such as during a veterinary visit, while trying to trim mats out of the fur, or loud fireworks — a reasonable amount of anxiety is expected. But if a kitty’s stress is severe, they may try to escape the situation and end up becoming lost or injured in their panic. Or, they may bite, scratch, or injure a human. 

Sedation or anxiety-reducing medications can help prevent both of these scenarios. They can also keep a cat happier by making a potentially stressful situation much more comfortable for a feline.

There are also some pets who struggle with long-term anxiety. For example, maybe an older cat is unhappy about a new kitten housemate. Or, a cat may have general anxiety due to their personality type or a previous trauma.

Kitties who fall into this chronic stress category may benefit from long-term medications. 

This is especially true for cats whose stress manifests in physical symptoms. A common example is cats with interstitial cystitis, an inflammatory condition of the urinary bladder. In cats prone to this condition, stress can bring on a flare up that requires veterinary treatment.

How Do I Know If My Cat Is Stressed?

Cat communication often appears subtle to human beings. But once you know what to look for, it may be easier to spot a potential problem in the early stages.

Here are some common symptoms of stress or fear in cats:

  • Making themselves appear as small as possible.
  • Ears back or flat against the head.
  • Hair standing up.
  • Pupils (black part of the eyes) expanding.
  • Meowing excessively.
  • Attempts to escape or hide.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Signs of aggression, such as growling, hissing, spitting, or trying to scratch or bite.
  • Behavior changes, such as grumpiness, playing less often, or hiding more.
  • Urinating outside of the litter box.

Affected cats may show just 1-2 symptoms, or several. And context is important. For example, a cat’s pupils may also become larger during playtime, and that’s perfectly normal.

Since some of the above symptoms can also indicate a serious medical condition, it’s important to call your vet or schedule an appointment before assuming these signs are stress related. 

Prior to prescribing a sedative or anxiety-reducing medication, a vet will perform a physical exam, and possibly diagnostic tests such as bloodwork. This helps rule out underlying medical conditions as a cause of the cat’s symptoms. It also helps ensure a cat is healthy enough for sedation.

How Is Anxiety in Cats Treated?

Stress reduction in pets should always involve some form of behavior modification or environmental changes. 

A simple example of behavior modification (a type of training) would be leaving the cat’s carrier out in the home all the time and placing treats inside. Over time, the cat may come to view their carrier as a fun place rather than a scary place.

Done properly, behavior modification can have excellent results for some pets. However, improperly performed, it can reinforce anxious behaviors. So it’s always important to seek guidance from a professional (a veterinarian, veterinary behaviorist, or specialty trainer with expertise in pet anxiety).

Environmental modification involves thinking about the world the way your cat perceives it and then helping them feel safer and calmer.

For example, many cats feel safe when they are hidden. For this reason, many vets will (if possible) perform a cat’s physical exam with the cat inside their carrier, where the cat feels hidden behind the carrier’s walls. 

This trick can also be used for car rides. Covering the sides of a kitty’s carrier with breathable blankets creates a dark and quiet space to hide, which may help reduce a cat’s anxiety during travel. 

Other common treatment methods include natural remedies, supplements, and sedatives or other medications.

Depending on the needs of a specific cat, sometimes a vet will start with natural remedies and a few tips for how to help a cat feel calmer in their environment. For some kitties, this is all that’s required.

For other cats, sedation or anxiety-reducing drugs may be needed. If that’s the case, whether it’s short-term or long-term, a veterinarian will help a pet parent find the best plan for their cat’s medications. Often, this means a trial and error period to see which medication and dose work best for an individual cat.

Need a vet? Book a visit.

What Are Some Natural Remedies for Cat Anxiety?

For cats with mild anxiety, a vet may recommend starting with these therapies prior to prescribing a sedative or anxiety medication:

  • Behavior modification and environmental changes, such as those mentioned above.
  • Supplements, such as L-theanine, Zylkene (hydrolyzed milk protein), or other calming formulations for felines.
  • Pheromone products like Feliway , which release calming cat scent signals.
  • A Thundershirt or other body wrap, which provides comfort by mimicking swaddling.
  • Herbal treatments such as Rescue Remedy for pets.
  • Catnip . Every cat reacts differently to catnip. For some kitties, they will be very playful at first, then get tired after running around. This “post-catnip crash” may be an ideal time for travel, grooming, etc.

Always check with your vet before giving any new medication or supplement, to make sure it’s safe for your cat and won’t interact with any medications they are already taking.

Don’t assume products labeled as “natural” are safe, either. Even natural therapies like certain essential oils can be toxic to cats.

Which Sedatives Are Used for Cats?

Different medications cause different sedative effects. And, two cats may respond differently to the same medication. So there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to choosing the best sedative for each individual cat. 

Some medications make a cat feel sleepy. Others (known as “tranquilizers”) bring about calmness or reduce anxiety. And some drugs may have both effects.

Additionally, some medications have pain relief effects, while others do not. And some are best for short-term stressful situations (like fireworks or a vet visit), while others are used for long-term anxiety issues.

Below are some of the most commonly used options for cat sedation and tranquilization.

Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) is not technically a sedative. It’s an antihistamine that’s commonly used for relieving allergy symptoms. However, sedation is a very common side effect. 

Benadryl is an over-the-counter cat sedative option with a good safety margin. However, it’s important to check with your vet for the right dose and formulation.

Side effects include dry mouth, increased heart rate, and urine retention. Cats with certain medical conditions (such as glaucoma, high blood pressure, or certain urinary problems) should avoid Benadryl. 


Acepromazine causes sedation and some anxiety relief. It may be given as an injection in the veterinary clinic, or acepromazine pills may be sent home. Acepromazine is often used as a cat sedative for travel, or given 30-60 minutes prior to a veterinary visit. 

Since the medication causes low blood pressure, it’s not an ideal choice for cats with heart disease or cats who are ill.

Gabapentin is a medication that can be used for several purposes, including seizure control, anxiety relief, sedation, and pain management. It’s a common cat sedative for grooming, travel, vet visits, and other short-term events. 

Gabapentin is generally considered safe in healthy pets, with minimal side effects. It’s often used in combination with other medications in pets who need a stronger sedative effect.

Trazodone offers both sedative effects and anxiety relief. This makes it a good choice for many situations, including grooming, vet visits, travel, storms, or fireworks. 

Trazodone must be used with caution in pets with certain conditions such as a heart problem, and it must not be combined with certain other types of anxiety medications (SSRIs). But overall, it’s a safe and popular choice.

Alprazolam (Xanax)

This medication can help cats with anxiety during short-term stressful events like fireworks and storms. 

Alprazolam may also be used for grooming, vet visits, etc. Since it doesn’t have a strong sedative effect, it’s often combined with sedatives for an anxiety-relieving boost. In some pets (especially younger animals), alprazolam can cause excitement rather than tranquilization.

Drugs for Long-term Anxiety Issues

Some kitties — such as those with severe or chronic anxiety, or those who suffer from stress-related cystitis — may need to take daily medications for a longer period of time. Common medication categories include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants. Popular options include fluoxetine and amitriptyline.

Injectable Sedation

For some pets, oral medication doesn’t provide enough sedation or anxiety relief. These kitties may need injectable sedation administered by a veterinarian during a checkup, toenail trim, x-rays, or other procedure.

Injectable drugs at a veterinarian’s office are typically stronger than oral medications that are sent home, and thus only administered by veterinary professionals who are trained and prepared to monitor a pet to ensure their heart rate, breathing, and temperature all remain normal during sedation.

Sedation Versus Anesthesia

Sometimes, confusion arises when discussing sedation and anesthesia. In general, sedation is “lighter” than general anesthesia, which means that a cat will not be in as deep of a sleep (and may still be alert, depending on the specific medication that is used) while sedated. Sedation is usually administered by mouth or via an injection.

General anesthesia, on the other hand, involves a deeper level of unconsciousness, which is maintained by an inhalant (gas) anesthetic. This is required for surgeries, although sedation may be appropriate for less invasive procedures such as cleaning a minor wound, clipping mats out of the fur, or taking x-rays.

A vet might recommend a combination of sedatives to obtain a desired sedative effect. Always check with your vet before combining, though, as some sedatives (especially two SSRIs in combination) are harmful if given together.

What Are the Side Effects of Sedation?

Side effects vary with each medication, so it’s best to ask your vet for specific information about the drug your cat has been prescribed. 

In addition to specific effects listed above, common side effects of sedation in cats include:

  • Vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Clumsiness or lack of coordination.
  • Decreased blood pressure.
  • Decreased ability to regulate body temperature.
  • Occasionally, paradoxical reactions. This is when a medication has the opposite effect, i.e. causing excitement, reactivity, or aggression instead of sedation.

Because of some of these effects, it’s important to monitor a pet closely until they’re more awake, or as advised by your vet.

What Else Should I Know About Sedatives and Cats?

Here are some additional important tips for sedating a cat:

  • Staying calm yourself may help, since many pets react to emotions or stress they sense from their human companions.
  • Many vets recommend a “trial run” for sedatives. For example, if using a cat sedative for travel, give your kitty a dose at home before the big travel day to make sure the medication works the way you want it to.
  • Many airlines don’t allow sedatives during travel, due to safety risks. This is especially true for pets flying in cargo who can’t be monitored, and for short-nosed breeds who are more prone to respiratory distress and at a higher risk with temperature extremes.
  • If you have difficulty giving your cat a pill, talk to your vet about other options. They may recommend using injectable sedation at the vet clinic instead. Some medications also come in other forms, such as a transdermal formulation you apply to the skin. But these special formulations must be ordered well in advance. And some medications can be added directly to your kitty’s food so they ingest it on their own — but check with your vet on this first.

As you can see, there are many different situations for which cat sedatives can be used — and many different medications to choose from. After consulting a veterinarian, most pet parents can find an option that works well for keeping their kitty relaxed, happy, and safe. 

Could your cat benefit from sedation? Schedule a telehealth appointment or in-person consultation with one of our caring veterinarians to learn more.

About the Author

Jessica DeAcetis

Better care, Right when you need it

Cat sedatives: Vet's guide to uses and sedating at home

Is your anxious kitty a handful? Cat sedatives can help

A sedated cat lying on a vet's table

Your cat may benefit from receiving cat sedatives if they get frightened at stressful but necessary events like going to the veterinary clinic or travelling . Or perhaps if they become aggressive when you’re trimming their nails or grooming them at home.

Oral sedatives from your veterinarian can help reduce your cat’s fear and anxiety and make the fractious cat easier to handle.  Before your cat needs to be sedated, it’s important to first consult your veterinarian to develop a plan to sedate your cat safely and effectively. Read on to learn more about using sedatives in cats and how they can help your cat.

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Why would a cat need to be sedated?

Your veterinarian may recommend sedating your cat for veterinary visits if your cat tends to be very fearful, anxious, or aggressive in the veterinary clinic. 

This not only helps your cat feel less stressed, but also ensures your safety and that of the veterinary team when handling your cat.  Most importantly, your cat will be less fearful and will have a more positive experience during his or her veterinary visit.

Similarly, sedation may also be used to keep a cat calm during travel, such as long car rides, or in stressful situations such as moving to a new home. A sedative can make this process go more smoothly for both cat and owner by mitigating the cat’s anxiety and reducing the cat’s fear in this new and potentially scary situation.

Veterinarians also use sedatives to anesthetize your cat for certain procedures or prior to surgery.  This ensures that your cat is safe, comfortable, pain-free, and immobile during the procedure.  These sedatives are administered at the veterinary clinic under the supervision of the veterinary team.

How is a cat sedated?

There are several ways a cat can be sedated.  If your veterinarian has asked you to sedate your cat prior to a veterinary visit, you will be given pills or capsules to be administered to your cat by mouth at home.  

These pills may be given the night before the appointment and/or a few hours prior to the appointment.  This ensures that your cat will receive the full sedative effect when it is time for the appointment. 

A similar process may be used for other stressful events, such as car rides, moving, thunderstorms, or other scary happenings.  Be sure to follow your veterinarian’s dosing instructions closely so that your cat gets the full effect of the medication but does not receive an overdose.

After receiving oral sedation medications, your cat will be calmer, more relaxed, and maybe a little groggy.  Your cat will not be fully anesthetized or “out of it”.  The sedation medication is just enough to take the edge off of your cat’s anxiety and should not put him or her fully to sleep.

In the veterinary clinic, a cat is often sedated using injectable sedative medications.  These anesthetic medications are used to facilitate certain procedures or to prepare your cat for surgery.  

The medication is injected either intramuscularly (IM) or intravenously (IV).  These medications will fully anesthetize your cat or put him or her to sleep so that the procedure can be safely performed.

A sedated cat having a blood sample taken

Can I sedate my cat at home?

Your veterinarian may prescribe one or two medications for you to give to your cat at home to sedate your cat for an upcoming event such as a veterinary visit or a long car ride.  

Be sure to follow your veterinarian’s instructions closely to get the maximum benefit from the sedation while ensuring your cat is safe. With your veterinarian’s permission, it’s best to test the sedative at home on a typical day first, so you’ll know exactly how the sedative will affect your cat prior to the big day.

Never try to sedate your cat at home using over the counter treatments or home remedies. Sedating your cat at home without your veterinarian’s guidance can be very dangerous for your cat.  

If you feel your cat needs to be sedated, speak to your veterinarian first.  Your veterinarian will give you a safe and effective plan for sedating your cat.

What happens after my cat is sedated?

After your cat is sedated with oral medications, he/she may be a little groggy, sleepy, or quieter than usual.  Your cat will not be completely asleep or “flat out”, but will still be awake and aware of the world around him or her.  

The sedation will simply help take the edge off of his or her fear and anxiety to make stressful events go more smoothly.  

After the scary event is over, your cat may sleep more than normal or may want to hide and be alone until the sedation has worn off.  Once the sedation has worn off – usually within a few hours to a day – your cat will be back to his or her normal, happy self.

Veterinary visits, car rides, thunderstorms – whenever you may need to sedate your cat, make sure you’re doing it safely and effectively.  Follow your veterinarian’s instructions to sedate your cat safely, and only use medications or supplements given to you by your veterinarian.  

Be sure to follow your vet’s dosing instructions exactly, and never double the dose or re-dose your cat without first consulting your vet for instructions.  Never use over the counter medications or home remedies to sedate a cat, as these may be dangerous for your cat, particularly if dosed incorrectly. 

If you have any questions about sedating your cat or helping your cat through stressful experiences, contact your veterinarian for further advice.

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Dr. Elizabeth Racine is a small animal general practice vet covering all things pet health and wellness.  Her special interests include veterinary behavior, nutrition, and internal medicine.  As a freelance writer, Dr. Racine has written content for major companies in the industry such as the American Kennel Club, Merck Animal Health, Bayer PetBasics, Elanco, and CareCredit.  In her free time, Dr. Racine enjoys playing trampoline dodgeball, hiking with her beagle Dasher, and spending time with her three mischievous cats. 

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Should You Give Your Cat a Sedative for Traveling? Here's What You Need to Know

Stressful events may call for a sedative to calm an anxious or fearful kitty.

Janelle is a cat mum to two resident adventure kitties, Lyra and Atlas, and numerous cat and kitten fosters. Janelle and her furry family enjoy filling their days with hiking, kayaking, and seeking out the best cat-friendly destinations around the Pacific Northwest. You can follow Janelle, her adventure kitties, and adoptable fosters at @paws_pdx.

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Are Sedatives Safe for Cats?

  • Should You Give Your Cat a Sedative for Traveling?
  • Cat Sedatives vs. Anti-Anxiety Medication
  • How to Sedate Your Cat for Travel Safely
  • Cat Sedation Side Effects

Many pet parents request sedatives when traveling with their cats. Not all cats are thrilled to travel, and many have trouble handling the stress. But at one time or another, your cat may need to face her fear and buckle up for a car ride or other means of travel, especially if you're moving . The good news is that she doesn't have to face this fear alone. If your cat shows signs of travel anxiety or fear after adequate training, she might benefit from a cat sedative for travel.

If your cat has a moderate to severe fear of travel that she can't seem to shake, it might be time to help her find relief with cat sedatives. While no medication is 100 percent safe for cats, only your veterinarian can determine if your cat is healthy enough for sedatives, says Katherine Pankratz DVM, DACVB, a certified veterinary behaviorist at Animal Behavioral Clinic in Portland, Ore. The benefits of a calm kitty may outweigh the risks, but Pankratz notes that sedatives could impact your cat's blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate depending on her health and the type of travel.

Every kitty is different, so ask your veterinarian to recommend not just the best sedative for cats, but the best option for your cat—you may be surprised to learn your kitty doesn't require medication at all.

Do Cats Need Sedatives for Travel?

If your cat tends to be vocal, drool heavily , pant , or otherwise act distressed or abnormal when traveling, she might benefit from the use of sedatives.

Not quite ready to try cat sedatives for travel? Shelley Knudsen, DVM at All Feline Hospital in Lincoln, Neb. recommends these non-medication routes you and your kitty can try first:

  • Feliway Spray
  • Purina Calming Care Cat Supplement
  • Rescue Remedy
  • Royal Canin Calm Food
  • Your cat's favorite catnip

These anti-anxiety over-the-counter (OTC) remedies, in addition to desensitization and counterconditioning training , may do just the trick for more enjoyable travels with your cat.

"Sedation is only one piece of the preparation for travel," Pankratz says. "It is very important to help prepare your cat for travel by training their comfort with travel itself." If your kitty still shows signs of stress after positive reinforcement and OTC calming aids, ask your vet if sedatives are right for her.

Cat Sedatives vs. Anti-Anxiety Medications

Cat sedatives work by coaxing your kitty into a state of sleep to keep her calm for long periods of travel—a useful tool for moderate to severe cases of fear of travel. Unlike anti-anxiety medications , sedatives don't target the negative, fear-inducing emotions your kitty experiences. While anti-anxiety medications may have a sedating component, they can be a useful coping tool for cats with little to moderate anxiety.

Talk with your vet about your specific pet so you can work together to find a treatment to help give your cat relief.

How to Safely Sedate Your Cat for Travel

Non-medicated calming aids such as pheromones are a-okay to purchase as an over the counter product and use at home. But if your finicky feline requires a medicated sedative, you should always consult your vet for safe dosing and administering.

Side Effects of Cat Sedatives: How Your Kitty's Behavior Might Be Affected Temporarily

Depending on the medication and dose as prescribed by your vet, your cat's behavior could range from Zen and sleepy to very groggy with difficulties walking. "Talk to your vet about the expectations and potential side effects of sedating medication. Sometimes, it is advised to perform a trial dose of the medication ahead of time to assess your cat's response prior to its need." Pankratz says.

For lighter doses of sedation, Pankratz says you can expect your kitty to return to normal behavior in about five hours or so. Stronger doses and medications could take up to a day to fully wear off. While your kitty slowly becomes more aware of her surroundings, and she gets her cat-like reflexes back, Pankratz recommends keeping her in a safe space. While a familiar space is best, surrounding her with familiar objects such as her favorite blanket can also provide comfort.

Related Articles

More related articles.

How to Sedate a Cat for Travel

how to sedate a cat for travel

Some cats don’t like to travel. They tend to get stressed. Cats like routine, they like their home turf, and they despise change. Cats like routine, they like their home turf and despise change.

And even though many cats have no issues with traveling, some feel anxious and due to stress meow, drool and pant during the trip. For this reason alone, they require more care. According to some veterinarians, sedation is a viable option in these cases.

Sleeping pills, benzodiazepines, and diphenhydramine are some of the things you can use to sedate your cat during travel, but veterinarians recommend you use sedatives as a last resort because altering their mentation or mental state can be harmful.

If you’re planning a car trip, you can make your car a less scary place for your cat. Cats like to hide in confined, dark places when they’re nervous and/or scared. These kinds of places make them feel like they are safe if no one can see them.

Placing a thin, dark piece of cloth over the carrier can help your cat feel safe and hidden during the trip. It’s very important to use a thin cover cloth, because cat’s respiratory rate skyrockets when she is scared or nervous, in turn, the temperature inside the carrier increases.

You can also take your cat for short practice rides in the carrier. Even a short drive around the block can be beneficial.

Don’t forget to reward your cat when you return home. The idea behind these practices is to get your feline friend to associate being in the carrier and in your car with something other than a trip to the vet.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t work with all the cats. If your cat is still frightened and anxious after many experimental car rides, only then you can start thinking about sedating your cat.

We recommend you visit your vet before administering your cat any sedatives since they can cause serious health risks to your cat if not administered properly.

Sleeping pills

Like for humans, there are sleeping pills for cats. Veterinarians often give sleeping pills to cats before performing surgery because of the pills sedative effect on the cat.

Sleeping pills for cats are available in many pet stores and even on the internet market where you don’t need any prescription. It isn’t recommended to buy the pills on your own, because of their possible negative side effects.

Choosing some random pills on the internet and giving them to your cat can worsen the cats traveling sickness.

Do not ever give your cat sleeping pills made for humans.

Some people will tell you that giving sleeping pills for humans in a small dosage to your cat is ok, but it is not. Every dosage could be harmful to your cat and even lethal in some cases.

Cats sleeping cycles are very different from human sleeping cycles, so giving human sleeping pills to your cat could disturb your cats’ natural sleeping cycle.

Cat parents consider giving sleeping pills to their cat as a last resort when it comes to traveling with them. If you are one of them, it would be wise to consult with your veterinarian before buying any pills.

Because veterinarians have experience in giving cats sleeping pills, they will prescribe your cat the safest pills, so you don’t have to worry about some negative side effects.

Even with a veterinarian’s prescription, it is not highly recommended to give your cat sleeping pills. Consider giving sleeping pills to your cat just in desperate situations when there is no other method left to calm your cat.

So, what are cat sedatives?

Cat sedatives help your feline friend sleep or keep him calm during a long ride or flight. Sedatives are a highly effective way to keep your cat calm while traveling.

cat travel tablets

While some feline sedatives are specially designed for them, others contain the same active ingredients that are in anti-anxiety meds for humans.

When it comes to types of sedatives, there are six main types of sedatives for cats. Those six main types are:


Diphenhydramine, chlorpheniramine.

Let’s go over each one of them and see how they affect your kitty.

Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs that are used in both human and animal medicine as sedatives. They are also used as effective anti-anxiety and muscle relaxant medications.

So how do benzodiazepines work?

This drug works by increasing the release and facilitation of neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (also known as GABA) activity. The increased levels of GABA help keep your kitty relaxed and a bit sleepy. The drug takes effect after it is administered.

Due to cats’ small size, the dosage is much smaller than what would humans use.

Be sure to check with your vet if it’s okay to administer this drug to your cat. If your cat is suffering from a kidney or a liver disease she won’t be able to receive this medication. This is also true if your kitty is pregnant.

One last thing you should keep in mind is that benzodiazepines are only available by prescription. Also, this drug can have some nasty side effects like aggression, agitation, nausea, vomiting, and even respiratory depression.

So, to really nail this one in the head, we recommend you first check with your vet if it’s okay for your cat to take this drug before traveling and be sure to keep your eyes open for any harmful side-effects.

The side-effects are not deadly, but they will surely scare both you and your feline friend.

Diphenhydramine is an over the counter drug whose active ingredient is Benadryl. It is safe for most cats, but the dosage as a sedative is much lower than the dose that is usually administered to humans.

Veterinarians often recommend diphenhydramine to owners that have cats that suffer from travel anxiety. This drug has sedative effects that can help your cat feel relaxed, it also used for treating motion sickness in cats.

When it comes to the dosage, a typical dose consists of 0.5 milligrams per pound every eight to twelve hours. We advise that you first consult with your veterinarian about what would a correct dosage be for your cat and how to best administer it.

If your cat is suffering from glaucoma, high blood pressure, difficulty urinating, or prostate problems you should not administer her Diphenhydramine.

If your kitty is pregnant or nursing, avoid giving her this drug because it can transfer through the placenta and milk.

If your veterinarian approves of administering this drug to your kitty, it’s recommended that you start 24 hours before the trip in order for the drug to take effect.

While traveling we recommend you place some familiar items inside the carrier to make the journey as comfortable as possible for your feline companion. We recommend you put a blanket with your scent along with a few of her favorite toys.

Since there is a chance of your cat being a bit scared while sedated, what you can do is talk to her in a soothing voice and let her smell you by placing your hand inside the carrier.

In addition to this, you can place the carrier next to a window so your kitty can have a look outside.

Chlorpheniramine is an over the counter medicine that is used for the treatment of common cold and allergies in humans. When it comes to cats, it’s used for preventing the symptoms of allergy. It is also used for managing cats that groom themselves too much.

While this drug is primarily used for treating allergy symptoms, its most common side effects is drowsiness. This makes it perfect for sedating your cat for the duration of the trip.

Using chlorpheniramine may not be the most effective way of keeping your cat relaxed during the trip, it is far easier to get a hold of it because it doesn’t require a prescription.

Even though you don’t need a prescription to buy chlorpheniramine we recommend you consult with your veterinarian about administering this drug to your cat because it can negatively interact with other drugs your cat is on.

When it comes to the dosage, the most common dose is 1 to 2 milligrams per cat every 8 to 12 hours. The drug takes effect a couple of hours after administration, so we recommend you plan your trip thoroughly so the drug can kick in at the right moment.

Chlorpheniramine comes both in liquid and pill form. This is great because cats really despise the taste of this drug. If you’re going to use it in pill form, we recommend you hide the pill inside a tasty piece of salmon or use pill pouches.

And if you’re going to use it in liquid form, we recommend you mix it with a small amount of canned food and feed her by hand to make sure your kitty swallows the full dose.

Gabapentin is a fairly inexpensive drug that was originally developed to treat seizures in humans. Other uses include treating neuropathic pain in humans, dogs, and cats.

While gabapentin is not labeled as an anti-anxiety drug, it is increasingly being used as such in both human and veterinary medicine.

The great thing about this drug is that it doesn’t have a strong taste which means the kitty might not realize she’s taking any medication when you mix in with food.

The dosage of gabapentin varies from cat to cat. If the cat is small, older or sick the prescribed dosage is around 65 milligrams. For bigger cats, the dosage is around 85 milligrams.

You should administer the drug 2 hours before the trip to ensure the drug will take effect. The effect of sedation is pretty strong and holds up to 8 hours, making this drug an excellent option if the trip is going to be very long.

Since using gabapentin to treat anxiety in cats is a recent trend and there weren’t many studies done on it, we recommend you consult with your veterinarian about using it.

Also, be sure to watch out for any side effects which include vomiting ataxia, vomiting, and increased salivation. None of these side effects are deadly, but it’s best that you know what you might be getting into.

Clonidine belongs to a class of drugs known as central alpha 2 adrenergic agonists. In other words, Clonidine is a sedative that is also used for providing pain relief and a muscle relaxant to both cats and dogs.

This drug works by stimulating alpha-adrenoreceptors in the brain that impacts the central nervous system, blood vessels, heart rate, and blood pressure.

This drug is only available by prescription, so you will have to consult with your veterinarian about getting one. The drug has fairly a mild effect so you don’t have to worry about your kitty being completely out of herself.

The dosage depends on your cats’ weight, ranging from 0.05 milligrams for smaller cats up to 0.1 milligrams for big cats. It takes up to 3 hours for the drug to take effect, so we recommend you administer it a few hours before you start your trip.

SARIs, or serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitors, are commonly used to treat anxiety disorders in cats and dogs. One such drug is Trazodone.

In the past couple of years, this drug has also been started to be used as a way to sedate cats before stressful veterinary visits and exams. This also makes it a great drug for sedating your cat on a long trip.

We can’t stress this enough, but if you decide to use Trazodone to sedate your cat for the duration of the trip you MUST consult with your veterinarian.

Even though this drug is fairly safe if your cat has a health condition this drug can cause cardiac arrest.

Trazodone starts to take effect fairly quickly, in less than an hour. Dosage varies on the weight of the cat. For smaller cats the dosage is around 10 milligrams, going up to 30 milligrams for bigger cats.

It takes up to twelve hours for the drug to completely dissipate, making this sedative an excellent option if you’re going on along car or plane ride.

Alternatives to Sleeping Pills for Cats

Like we said before, sleeping sedating your cat for travel should be your last resort. Using sedatives only makes sense if your furry friend suffers from high travel anxiety or travel sickness.

If your kitty only gets a bit restless while traveling you can try out some less “synthetic” options. The first option you can try is pet calming collars.

These collars release natural cat hormones that help your kitty feel safe and relaxed. The second option you can try out are herbs that have calming effects.

Both options are equally effective, we will go over both of them so you can better understand them and make up your mind.

Calming collars

Calming collars are specially designed for cats and kittens who tend to be scared, stressed, and anxious in some situations like traveling, veterinarian visits, visitors coming by, etc.

Calming collars are a new innovative solution to help modify stress-related behavior in cats using good behavior pheromone technology.

This technology emits a pheromone that the mother cat produces to calm and reassure her kittens. Calming collars also have ingredients like lavender and chamomile which provides a shooting fragrance.

These collars work so that they mimic the natural way to help cats deal with fearful and stressful situations.

Applying the collar is pretty easy: place the collar around your cat’s neck adjusting it to fit around the neck comfortably, leave 2 to 3 inches for extra adjustment and after the calming collar is places cut off the excess portion of the collar.

When you first apply the calming collar around the neck of your furry friend, a white powder will release from the collar. This powder will activate and will free the pheromones.

You should wash your hands after placing the calming collar around your cat’s neck.

The calming collar should be removed before you are shampooing or bathing your cat and if you want to apply it again later seal the collar in a plastic bag in order to prolong the calming collars effect.

Do not use the collar if your cat has extensive skin lesions because the powder in the collar could then be harmful to your cat. When the collar is placed on your cat’s neck look after how your cat behaves.

The calming collars should be safe for use, but if you see your cat behaving strangely, remove the calming collar immediately in order to avoid any negative effects.

5 Calming Herbs for Your Stressed Out Cat

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Some cats like to save their frustration for car trips and medical exams. If your cat tends to be like this, and you’re wondering what you can do about it, you can try out some of the following herbs and flower essences.


It is generally known that catnip gives your cat an insane energy boost. So, you might ask yourself: “Why would I give something to my cat that will rile her up even more?” Well, that’s an excellent question!

The trick is to give her some catnip fifteen minutes before the trip. After your feline friend is done running around and hanging from the ceiling, she will be as calm as a lake.


Valerian comes from the same herb family as catnip. They are so closely related that people often mistake it for catnip. Valerian has the same effect on your cat as catnip, but with one interesting trip.

After the initial crazy-fest, not only will she be calm, she will also fall soundly asleep. This herb is also commonly used for treating insomnia in humans, so you can also use it if you’re having trouble sleeping.


How many times did you drink a cup of hot chamomile tea to relax a bit before going to bed? You’d be surprised to know that this herb has the same effect on cats too.

The only difference between humans and cats is that instead of giving your cat chamomile tea, you should expose her to the dried flowers.

Studies have shown that chamomile contains substances that act on the same parts of the brain as anti-anxiety drugs do.


A long-running joke amongst cat owners is that cats crack open a beer as soon as they leave the house.

We don’t recommend that you give your cat-friend a sip of Bud Light before traveling, but we do recommend you give her some dried hops flowers.

Hops have shown to be as effective as chamomile in calming your kitties’ nerves.

Bach Rescue Remedy

Rescue Remedy Stress Relief Pet Supplement

Check on Amazon

While Bach Rescue Remedy is not technically an herb, it has amazing calming effects on both cats and dogs.

The best thing about this remedy is its almost instantaneous effects, making it an excellent option if you need to calm your cat in minutes.

You can rest assure your cat will be calm and relaxed during the whole trip, just be sure to get the alcohol-free version.

Administering Calming Herbs to your Cat

Calming herbs come in a wide range of forms like tinctures, dried flowers, or essential oils.

Out of all these forms, the only one you should be looking at is the dried leaf/flower form because essential oils and tinctures contain alcohol which is toxic to cats.

The best way to administer the herbs to your cat-friend is by putting it inside of a tube collar or make a tiny pillow toy with herbs inside. Your cat will benefit from the relaxing properties of the herbs while being safe from over-ingesting them.

If your kitty really doesn’t like traveling, it’s best you leave her at home. This might be hard for both of you, but you will save both your own and your cats nerves and sanity.

However, if you’re really keen on taking your cat with you, it’s best that you first consult with your veterinarian on how to best keep your furry friend calm and relaxed.

The most effective way of calming your cat is administering her sedatives, but those come with their own set of complications.

Alternatively, you can try using herbs, but those might not have the long-lasting effects of conventional sedatives.

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide which option is best for your cat.


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Great Pet Tips

How to Sedate a Cat for Travel

Cat sleeping pills for travel - 5265 views.

How to Sedate a Cat for Travel

The reactions of cats when it comes to traveling often differ. Some even take the entire journey without any form of issues. However, there are those that tend to bother the owner and are problematic for carrying along. It is for such reasons that giving such a cat some sleeping pills becomes an option. Sedating helps in calming the cat and avoiding any jumpy and such bothersome behaviors.

The calm cat is in most case the best companion to get, and admire as it sleeps. Besides, there are many more reasons why sedating is of high importance to the pet and the owner. Below are some important tips of cat sedative for travel that are worth when calming the pet cat for a journey.

When to Sedate the Cat?

Often, short distanced journeys are fun traveling with a pet which is active and playful. However, it could not be the same case when taking long traveling hours. It is highly recommended to administer sleeping dosages to the cat when in long trips, such as when using trains, the plane of during its usual clinics.

It is a way of trying to regulate the pet’s behavior. The calmness results from the fact that there is a significant lowering of the pet’s anxiety levels. The consequences that results from the high level of anxiety include strained breathing, defecations, urination, stress and motion sickness.

Some cat gets to their destination appearing very ill if they were never sedated. Others tend to moan and meow for the entire travel. It may turn difficult for the pet owner to handle the situation if they fail to recognize that the cat is emotionally unstable. They go through anxiety and stress, of which it is hard for them to bear.

Therefore, thinking of how to bring calmness and make them comfortable is a top priority. It is a way of bringing the pet to a calmer state. Some pets turn so calm to the point of taking a nap for the whole journey. It may not be given that the pet will remain in its nap, but sedating it puts it in a submissive and easier to handle state.

How to Choose the Right Sleeping Pills

Cat Sleeping Pills For Travel

Ensuring that the vet officer approves the pills is a guarantee of positive outcomes. Consequently, picking poor quality products may cause more harmful and unhealthy. The vet officer should also examine the pet to ensure that the pills are fit enough for its health.

It is more important having this procedure, especially when taking plane journeys. There is a combination of elevation effects such as excessive stress, air pressure, and temperatures variation. The cat is subjected to potentially fatal conditions. The sleeping pills are administered in different options such as ingestion, injections or sprays.

However, consider situations such as if the cat throws up and enough dose. Most oral sleeping pills are known to have prolonged onset time, but they are often hard to administer to the cat. But, for the spray form of mediation, it is more of a guarantee that the cat took enough of it into its bloodstream.

How to Administer Oral Sedatives

Most sleeping pills available in the market are orally ingested. The procedure of having the cat consume them starts by timing as per the prescriptions. It is worth having enough time for the medication effects of sinking before the travel exposure starts. There are those sleeping pills that are in solid form while others are in suspensions.

The process should happen in a very calm and caring manner. So, it is wise to start by wrapping the pet with a warm cloth or blanket and then follow the following procedure for cat sedative for travel.

  • A thumb is placed on one side of the pet’s mouth, and forefinger on the opposite side.
  • Pressure is applied until the cat opens up its mouth.
  • The mouth is opened further using the other free hand and pressing down the lower jaw.
  • It is then that the pill or liquid medication is squeezed into the pet’s mouth just beside the cheek.
  • The cat is soother to ensure that swallows the pills before its mouth is slowly released. It may be necessary to lift the pet’s face and let its nose point upwards.
  • A gentle rub on the throat is highly encouraged to ensure that the liquid or pill medication is fully swallowed. Alternatively, make a gentle blow on the cat’s face.
  • After that, treat the cat with its favorite meal or such to ensure it is feels praised for the good behavior.

Alternative Methods to Administer Sleeping Pills

Cat sedative for travel

There are a couple of other alternatives to administer sedatives. A pet owner, and with the help of a vet, are the people to decide the best method suits the cat in the subject.

  • A commonly used technique has a pill gun. It easily enables for the pill to get dropped at the back of the cat’s mouth. The process of forcing the cat to open its mouth and trying to push the pills deeper is well sorted. The pill gun raises the probabilities of having the cat swallow the medication. It also minimizes possibilities of causing throat irritations that could make the cat vomit the medication.
  • Another highly recommended method is offering pills when they are mixed with cat foods. It is simple to smash up the pills into the pet’s wet meal and serve. Alternatively, wrapping the pills with some food balls, cheese or other favorite forms of cat treat will make it consume the medication at ease. One can purchase some of these treats available in the market where the place to hold the pills is conveniently made.
  • The liquid medication is also an alternative to offering solid pills. The only challenge with it is when the entire dose fails to reach into the pet’s stomach. It is highly advisable not to add any of the sedatives in case there was spillage or other factors that made it not to get to its stomach. Some pet owners tend to mess up by overdosing the cat since the exact measure of the medication into the pet system can’t be established.
  • The last method involves having the pet wear a special collar. These collars are somehow treated with the drug medication and then tied around the pet’s neck. It helps in ensuring that the pet slowly takes in the dose and remains calm.

How long it takes for the Sleeping Pills to Kick In.

Cat sedative for travel

The oral pills often take approximately 30 – 45 minutes while the spray form may take as little as 15 – 20 minutes. Hence, choosing the right dosage, medication and administration depend on the journey preparation time and hours it takes to the destination.

How Long Do Cat Sleeping Pills Last?

The duration of sleeping pills effects much depends on the dosage taken. A cat would remain calm for longer hours if a higher dose were used. On average, most sleeping pills go for an hour and above. It means that the travel hours are key in determining how many hours the cat is needed calm. Prays are known to be more effective since it is the carrier that is sprayed, making the pet to ingest the medication slowly.

For the liquid and solid pills, the kick in time is longer and slow since they take the entire digestive system process before getting to effect. The pills may appear to last longer through the gradual intrusion into the bloodstream.

Are Cat Sleeping Pills Safe?

All the sleeping pills in the market have some degree or health risks and safety. One main precaution when using sprays is to avoid having them sprayed directly on the pet. For the pills, overdosing may lead to immense hazards, and thus, it is needful to follow the precautions and prescriptions given at the label. A common issue with most sleeping pills is their effect on the pet’s blood pressure.

Some of them lower it to extremely dangerous levels while others cause it to shoot too high especially if an overdose is administered — some observable symptoms with a cat whose blood pressure is low include perplexed and groggy cat. The heart rates may also vary, resulting in difficult breathing. It implies that sleeping pills have equal chances of turning fatal as well as calming the cat.

Natural Cat Sleeping Pills

Natural Cat Sleeping Pills

They may sound not common, but research has it that these are well applicable when bringing the cat to sleep. Approximately 50% of cats respond to the coming in to contact with Catnip for it is more of urine to the eyes of the pet.

However, it is a natural way of having the cat sleep upon having it ingested in their body. The only precaution is to avoid having the cat smell the herb for it may result in it acting frisky, rolling, running, drooling and pawing.

The Valerian herb has similar effects to those of Catnip, though its effects a longer lasting and stronger. The only challenge is knowing the right dosage to administer. Often, some pet owners end up overdosing their pets which results in them to be lethargic and groggy. However, the experience with these herbs is not known by most pet owners. It takes an expert to know the right amount and procedure to administer it to the pet.

The Need to Consult a Vet before giving Sleeping Pills

A vet is a person with much knowledge and experience on the right procedures to undertake the procedure of cat sedative for travel. It is important having to engage a vet when taking any medication oriented decisions. When planning to do some self-medication on the cat, making a quick visit to the vet with the pet goes a long way in guaranteeing its safety and health.

It is here that the cat can get examined to ensure that it is healthy enough for the procedure. They are the people who can choose the best dosage and medication for the pet. Their recommendation on whether to take the spray, a liquid or the pills medication administration are worth. They also examine the risks attached to every phase or decision of the procedure.

The younger cats are known to be at lesser risks as compared to the older ones. Kittens below six weeks of age are also highly not recommended to consume any form of sedatives.

Final Verdict

Giving some sleeping pills to a cat for travel is quite necessary to ensure that the pet is calm and can get control. However, there exists a couple of options of cat sedative for travel, and decide on when and how to administer them. Taking the pet to a vet helps in determining the health condition and possible effects of these different medications.

It is recommended to take the pet around for a drive in determining of the best sedatives to ingest and its response to the pills. The need to have the medication comes out stronger when a semi-travel environment is created. It may not be necessary for doing any form of medication when travel is a simple short trip.

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  • Cat Behavior
  • Health & Care

How to Travel With a Cat: 16 Vet Approved Tips & Tricks

cat inside carrier beside luggage

Image Credit: Monika-Wisniewska, Shutterstock

Last Updated on March 18, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat inside carrier beside luggage


Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo


Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Traveling with your cat will usually go one of two ways. Either you have an excellent traveler that is used to hitting the road with you, or you have a fearful, anxious kitty that is terrified to be away from the comfort of their home, with the latter being the more common.

Being well prepared for travel ahead of time can help save you a lot of stress. If you are getting ready to travel with your cat, here are some helpful tips and tricks to ensure your trip goes as safely and smoothly as possible.

cat + line divider

  • The 16 Tips to Prepare for Travel With a Cat
  • 1. Make Sure You Have a Secure Carrier

First and foremost, you need to make sure you have a secure carrier for your cat to travel in. When cats are under stress, they will try to make a break for it and escape the situation. If you have a crate that is not size-appropriate, you could risk them squeezing through the slats in the crate. Some cats may even try to open the crate, so make sure it latches securely.

For some added safety, you can even opt to purchase a carrier that includes a seat belt attachment so that you can buckle your cat up as you make your way down the road. If you happen to be traveling by plane, make sure you follow the airline’s guidelines for the type of travel carrier you can use and what all can be packed along with your cat.

cat in cat carrier

  • 2. Pack Their Favorite Bedding and Toys

Having their familiar bedding and toys from home can help ease the stress of the traveling process. Cats naturally establish their territory by using their scent, if you bring along their scent-covered comfort items, it can help relieve their anxiety and will also provide them some enrichment and a place to rest once you get to where you are going.

  • 3. Travel with Their Usual Litterbox

You sure don’t want to forget the litter box if you are going on a long trip. Your dog may be able to hop out of the car and relieve itself at a rest stop just like you, but your cat is going to need their litter box . A great tip is to get your cat used to a traveling litter box by placing it in your home ahead of time.

It’s best to bring a litter box they are used to rather than buying another during the trip. Cats are not big fans of any change, so keeping drastic changes in their normal day-to-day life should be kept at a minimum. They will most likely be severely stressed while traveling, keep them with as much familiarity as you can.

cat in cat carrier

  • 4. Don’t Forget Food and Water

Instead of having to make an extra stop to pick things up, go ahead and pack their food and ensure you have enough water to get by. You can purchase food and water bowls that are made specifically for travel. Most of them conveniently collapse when not in use to keep from taking up more space.

Now is not the time to make any changes to your cat’s food. Changes in diet can result in a change in bowel habits, and you should avoid that while out and about. Make sure you pack some water bottles too, that way you can hydrate your cat regularly.

  • 5. Pack Their Favorite Treats

Packing your cats’ favorite treats may help put a positive spin on the situation. After all, who doesn’t love comfort treats? Don’t be too alarmed if your cat is unwilling to eat during the trip, they are experiencing a lot of stress and it’s not uncommon for them to lose their appetite while on the road.

cat being fed a cat treat or cat food by hand

  • 6. Do Not Feed Right Before You Leave

Just in case your cat was to experience motion sickness during the trip, it’s best to withhold the meal before leaving. Cats can easily get nauseous and can even vomit while riding in a car. It’s generally recommended to make sure they haven’t had anything to eat about 4 to 5 hours before leaving.

You can pick back up on your feeding schedule once you arrive. If you plan on being in the car for an extended period, talk to your veterinarian about the best way to provide food while on the go.

  • 7. Keep Cleaning Supplies on Hand

Not only is your cat going to have to relieve themselves naturally, but accidents sometimes happen, especially under times of stress. Sometimes the stress of traveling alone can result in diarrhea. If your cat is not used to being in a moving vehicle, it could get a bout of motion sickness and may even vomit. In addition, while on the road and exploring new places, your cat may be enticed to mark the new territory.

Regardless of what kind of mess you end up dealing with and why it happened, it’s best to be prepared. Make sure to pack plenty of cleaning rags, paper towels, cleaning spray, and some cat shampoo just in case you end up needing to give them a quick wash.

cat travel tablets

  • 8. Try Using Calming Pheromone Spray

Pheromone sprays come recommended by veterinarians and many cat owners have had success using them. These sprays are made from synthetic pheromones that are meant to mimic the smell of a cat’s natural pheromones that are released when they are feeling calm and relaxed.

When sprayed, it can produce a calming effect and make the situation a bit less stressful. This is a great alternative to using prescription drugs from the veterinarian. The most well-known brand of pheromone spray is Feliway, which has some studies to back it up. There are plenty of other options as well. These sprays can easily be found online or at your local pet store. Cats need to be familiarized with the spray ahead of time.

  • 9. If Your Cat Gets Anxious, Talk to Your Vet Before Traveling

Cats like to stay in their own territory and certainly prefer not to travel, so it’s no wonder many cats experience a great deal of stress when doing so. Some cats will be affected much more by the stress than others and you may benefit from calling your veterinarian to see if prescription medication to calm their nerves would be recommended.

For those getting ready for air travel, it is highly recommended that you speak to your vet. Airplane travel can be a lot for a small cat, so prescription sedative mays are necessary . They do come with some side effects though, which is why speaking to your vet plenty of time beforehand is essential to ensure they don’t have an adverse reaction during the flight.

scottish fold cat checked by vet

  • 10. Never Leave Your Cat in a Hot Car

When you are finally out on the road, remember to never leave your cat alone in the vehicle when it’s warm outside, it is very dangerous and could easily end your cat’s life.  To put it into perspective, during a 70-degree weather day, the inside of a car can rise to 89 degrees within 10 minutes and up to 104 within 30 minutes.

If you need to take a break and go to the restroom, or if you need to grab a bite to eat, make sure your car is well ventilated and cannot overheat if you are alone. If you are traveling with more than one person, consider taking turns to ensure someone is always with the kitty.

  • 11. Do Not Allow Your Cat to Free Roam the Vehicle

You do not want to allow your cat to free roam the vehicle regardless of whether you are stopped or moving. Cats tend to bolt, and it may be difficult to catch them, this is a danger to everyone in the car. In addition, you have a lot of trouble getting a hold of them again, as they may become defensive in this very stressful situation.

cat with head out car window travel

  • 12. Make Sure Your Cat is Secure Before Opening Doors

It is a good idea to ensure the carrier is securely closed before you open any car doors. Again, a cat may bolt if given the chance and the last thing you would want is for them to break free while a door is open, and they get loose away from home.

  • 13. Avoid Playing Loud Music

While cats may enjoy the calming effects of cat-specific music that is composed by using the same frequencies as their vocalizations, loud human music is not their forte. Playing loud music while in the car will only increase their stress and make the trip more uncomfortable for your cat.

hugging an adorable bright orange cat stress_RJ22_shutterstock

  • 14. If You Are Traveling with Other Pets, Keep Them Separate from Their Enemies

If you are taking the whole family along and there are other pets in the home that your cat does not particularly get along with, make sure to keep them separated during the trip itself. Having your arch-enemy beside you while you’re on a road trip wouldn’t be fun for anyone. This will only cause your cat to be more stressed than they already are. Keep enemies on opposite sides of the vehicle if possible.

  • 15. Provide Comfort During the Drive

It may just be another road trip for you, but it’s a very stressful time for your cat. The only thing in the vehicle that is familiar, other than bedding and possibly the crate, is you. Reassure them by talking to them softly and even reaching in to pet them. It can help your cat feel more relaxed to know you are right there.

Devon Rex cat is travelling on owners lap in a car

  • 16. Have Supplies and Identification in Order

Before you leave for the trip, make sure your cat has been microchipped . This is the best way to ensure they can be returned to you if they were to be lost. Microchips are highly effective in returning lost pets to their owners and while you are traveling, you are somewhere completely unfamiliar to your cat.

You can also opt to purchase a GPS tracker , which can be linked to your cell phone, allowing you to track their exact distance if need be. Make sure you have an ID on their collar and even consider purchasing a harness and leash for travel purposes.

Lastly, if you are traveling on an airline, make sure to check their pet policy and get everything in order from the travel crate requirements to the necessities for travel.

bengal cat in a cat carrier

Traveling with your beloved kitty can be nerve-racking and a bit difficult. With these tips though, you should be able to prepare for just about anything you need before you get started and while you’re on the road. Of course, if you are traveling by plane, you need to speak to the airline about the pet policy and prepare accordingly. Always reach out to your veterinarian for travel advice or any needed prescription medications.

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How to Travel with a Cat

Last Updated: January 13, 2023 Approved

This article was co-authored by Pippa Elliott, MRCVS . Dr. Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS is a veterinarian with over 30 years of experience in veterinary surgery and companion animal practice. She graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1987 with a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery. She has worked at the same animal clinic in her hometown for over 20 years. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article has 13 testimonials from our readers, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 650,883 times.

Most people do not relish the thought of bringing their cats with them on a vacation or on a road trip. There are a few fearless felines that are not finicky about traveling, but for many cats, traveling and leaving their familiar surroundings can be sheer terror. However, it is possible to travel with a cat without a huge amount of problems. The key is to the prepare ahead of time by acclimating your cat to travel gradually and preparing supplies well before the departure date.

Preparing Ahead of Time

Step 1 Acclimate your cat to traveling.

  • Give your cat treats while it is in the car. This will give it better feelings about being there.
  • Look upon these as trial runs to work out any kinks before you have to take a long trip far from home.

Step 2 Get prescription medication for motion sickness, if necessary.

  • The signs of a cat with motion sickness (while in the car of course) include: crying or vocalizing that doesn’t quit after a few minutes into the car ride, excessive drooling, immobility, or acting afraid to move, or excess activity or pacing, vomiting, or urinating or defecating.
  • Ginger has also been used to treat nausea in humans and it is safe to use in cats; this can be found in liquid form or chews from on-line or brick and mortar pet stores or in the occasional veterinary clinic.

Step 3 Give your cat...

  • Discuss dosages with your veterinarian and follow their advice carefully for the best result.

Step 5 Try any sedatives at home a few days before your trip.

  • Most sedatives won't knock the cat out cold and should only take the edge off. If the drug is too sedating or not sedating enough, you should let your vet know before you leave. The cat should remain alert to its surroundings, even when on the sedative.
  • While on the medication trial, put the cat in the carrier and take it for a drive. This way, you'll know what behaviors to expect while you're traveling with a medicated cat. Make sure your vet gives you enough medication for the duration of your travel (to and from) and ask for an extra pill or two to try at home before you embark.

Step 6 Get a towel or blanket and put it in your cat's bed, or wherever it likes to sleep, a few days before the trip.

  • Be sure to test your cat's reaction to Feliway before spraying it in the carrier. A small minority of cats interpret the spray as another cat's markings and may have a negative or even aggressive reaction to it.

Taking Your Cat on a Trip

Step 1 Have your cat eat a few hours before traveling and allow it unrestricted access to its litter box.

  • Never make your cat stay in its carrier for longer than eight hours without providing it with food, water and a chance to use the litter box.

Step 2 Leave the door of the cage open to allow your cat a chance to explore the cage.

  • The carrier should be placed in a secure spot in the car, preferably strapped in place with a seat belt. If the seat belt won’t work, you can use bungee cords or small lengths of rope to secure the carrier in the car in case of sudden stops or an accident. [4] X Research source

Step 4 Place your cat in the carrier with the harness on.

Expert Q&A

Melissa Nelson, DVM, PhD

  • Note that airlines will not accept a sedated animal because it is more difficult to know if it is experiencing any health problems, including heat stroke. If you are making a long drive to the airport with your cat do not give it a sedative as it will not be able to fly. Instead, Rescue Remedy is an acceptable calming alternative as the animal remains fully alert. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
  • Don't forget to bring a scratching post or cardboard scratch pad! People have a tendency to forget this, and it may cause your cat to resort to scratching on unwanted surfaces, such as the hotel curtains or bedspreads. Cats need to scratch; not only is it instinctual, but it also allows them to get a good stretch and use muscles they wouldn't normally use. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 1
  • On long trips with more than one cat, a large collapsible dog carrier that fits in the back seat is a great option. You can fit in a small covered litter box that doubles as a cat booster seat to look out the window, in addition to having room for a cat bed, food, water and toys. The zippered screened sides allow for easy access, as well as letting your cat see you and the scenery out the window. The larger carrier doubles as a safe place when visiting others with pets if you need to go out, as the cats can still use the litter box and have room to move around. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0

cat travel tablets

  • Make sure your cat is wearing the collar and ID tags at all times! You never know if your cat will somehow weasel its way away. A microchip with up to date information on record with the chip company is a never-loose ID tag. A rescuer will need to have a vet or shelter scan it to get the number. Thanks Helpful 37 Not Helpful 13
  • Do not allow a cat unrestricted access to your car when you're driving. Even the smallest things can spook a cat, and the last thing you need is a cat hiding in the back of your car, under the seat where you can't reach it, or dashing under your feet to the pedals. If you're riding with passengers and your cat likes to look out the window, putting a harness and leash on and allowing the cat to sit that way may not be a bad idea. Be careful your cat does not become agitated about it, however. Thanks Helpful 28 Not Helpful 11
  • Never leave your cat in the car alone, even with the windows cracked. It can take less than twenty minutes for your pet to overheat and die when left in a car. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

Things You'll Need

  • Food and water dishes
  • Cat carrier
  • Small towel or blanket
  • Scratching post or pad
  • Cat toys, string
  • Cat harness and leash
  • Cat collar with ID tags
  • Enzyme based cleaner in case your cat has an accident in the car or hotel.
  • Rescue Remedy spray
  • Medications

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About This Article

Pippa Elliott, MRCVS

To prepare your cat for travel, make sure your cat eats and drinks several hours before traveling and has access to the litter box until it's time to go so it doesn't need to go on the road. Right before putting your cat in its crate, place a harness on it so you can easily leash your cat when you open the crate. Plan to let your cat out to stretch its legs every few hours, and use the leash to keep your cat from running away! For more tips from our Veterinarian reviewer, including how to use pheromones to keep your cat calm, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Watch CBS News

Flying with pets? Here's what to know.

By Anne Marie Lee

Edited By Alain Sherter

Updated on: April 6, 2024 / 10:08 AM EDT / CBS News

Thinking of taking your dog or cat with you the next time you fly? For a growing percentage of the 90.5 million pet owners in the U.S., the answer is yes. But while the notion of boarding a plane with your pet may seem simple, the rules and restrictions around traveling with an animal can be confusing. 

Eight major U.S. airlines allow pets to fly in-cabin as carry-ons. But flying with your pet takes research and planning, as pet policies vary from airline to airline, are steeped in restrictions, and are limited to specific countries and cities. You'll also have to pay an extra fee for your pet ranging from $95 to $200, depending on the airline and where you're flying. And restrictions often change.

For example, American Airlines  recently revised its policies  so passengers flying with pets may also bring one full-size carry-on or personal item. But the carrier prohibits carry-on pets on transatlantic and transpacific flights. Here's what you need to know when considering taking your fur baby with you on a plane.

Cargo, check-in or carry-on?

Most airlines offer three options for transporting animals: cargo, check-in or carry-on. But if your pet is larger than a bread box, your options are limited to the cargo or baggage check-in options, with very few exceptions. 

Given that large canine breeds such as Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers are among the most popular dogs in the country, the size restriction for in-cabin pet travel can be a major frustration for those who would rather not fly at all if that means putting their pet in cargo. 

A 2023 Forbes Adviser survey of 10,000 U.S. dog owners found that 33% of respondents fly with their pets, while 37% listed not being able to bring their dog on a plane as their biggest annoyance. (You can learn more about the differences between cargo, check-in and carry-on options  here , including warnings about the  dangers  involved when pets travel in the cargo hold.) 

Carry-on pets

Even for pet owners whose animals are small enough to fly as a carry-on, traveling is no breeze.

"When I fly with him I have to go to the desk," Margaret Rauch, 44, told CBS MoneyWatch, referring to her 15-pound poodle mix, Soda. The New York City resident has taken Soda on dozens of flights to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where Soda, now 4, was being fostered by a friend after being found as a stray puppy in 2021. 

In addition to calling the airline in advance to register her dog for a flight, Rauch has to check in at the counter whenever she's traveling with Soda, so the airline agent can confirm her dog and pet carrier conform to the in-cabin pet requirements and that the flight hasn't already met its pet maximum. 


Rauch, who said she would never consider putting Soda in cargo, applauded American Airlines' new policy, while noting that in her experience the one carry-on rule was rarely enforced. 

"I feel the price is already high for what I get. Even with AA's rule change, I lose the underseat space," she said. "My dog creates no extra work for anyone."

Despite the added preparation, paperwork and hassle involved in flying with Soda — not to mention the unfriendly looks she occasionally detects from fellow passengers at the sight of her pet carrier — Rauch said, "It's absolutely worth it." 

Asked how the experience could be improved, she pointed to early boarding for pet owners as something that would help.

"If you can get in early, get a seat and settle down, that is an accommodation I don't expect to see anytime soon but I think it makes sense," Rauch said.

Safety and comfort

For the many Americans who see their pets practically as family members, one of the most challenging aspects of flying is ensuring their animal's comfort and safety. 

"The increasing humanization of pets, which involves treating them as part of the family rather than as mere animals, has increased the demand for pet travel services that are of high quality and can be customized to meet the specific needs of each pet," LinkedIn reported in December.

Among other tips, the U.S. Department of Transportation  and animal experts recommend that you not feed your pet four to six hours before a flight and limit their water intake. Others also suggest keeping bottled water on hand at all times. Additionally, most airlines require certain vaccination and vet certification that your pet is healthy enough to fly. Individual countries also have their own requirements for pets to enter.  

Not surprisingly, some airlines do better than others at handling pets. One of the best-rated carriers for pet travel is Alaska Airlines, which has repeatedly topped rankings, such as NerdWallet's Most pet-friendly airlines of 2024.  In recent years, the airline also has maintained one of the industry's lowest incident ratings, according to United Airlines and Delta are among the airlines with the highest incident rates, according to the pet information website. 

On Rauch's first plane trip with Soda traveling home to New York, a layover in Miami led to the flight sitting on the tarmac for two hours. Calming treats are something that helps keeps her dog relaxed on flights. She also withholds Soda's food and limits his water intake up to five hours before a flight, which is also helpful given that he doesn't like using pet relief areas, which she said generally smell of urine and can be overwhelming for dogs. Flights between New York City and St. Croix are generally under six hours. 

"I'm not sure how I'd handle a flight to Singapore," Rauch said.

Here's a rundown of U.S. airlines' pet travel policies, along with fees and and restrictions:

Alaska Airlines

Pet fee: $100

Pets allowed: Dogs and cats are the only pets allowed in-cabin on international trips and flights to Hawaii. Domesticated rabbits and small household birds are allowed as carry-on on domestic flights.

Destinations: Domestic and international, with additional requirements and documentation required for  pets traveling to Hawaii  or  internationally .

See Alaska's full pet policy here .

American Airlines

Pet fee: $150

Pets allowed: Dogs, cats


  • Within the 48 contiguous U.S.
  • The U.S. and Canada*
  • Puerto Rico

*Additional special restrictions may apply. See American's full pet policy  here .

Pet fee: $75-$200, depending on destination

Pets allowed: Dogs, cats, household birds

Pet friendly destinations: 

  • U.S., Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico
  • International destinations with the exception of Australia, U.K., Republic of Ireland and others .

Pets are not permitted on flights to Hawaii. See Delta's full pet policy here .

Frontier Airlines 

Pet fee: $99

Pets allowed: Dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and household birds

Destinations: Domestic flights and international flights to and from the Dominican Republic and Mexico.

See Frontier's full pet policy here .

Pet fee: $125

Destinations: Domestic and international. See exceptions for international flights here .

See JetBlue's full pet policy here .

Southwest Airlines

Pet fee: $125 per pet carrier on the U.S. mainland; $35 per pet carrier between Hawaiian Islands

Destinations: Domestic U.S. flights only. For travel to Puerto Rico, specific requirements may  apply . For Hawaii travel, see rules and regulations here.

See Southwest's full pet policy here .

Spirit Airlines

Pets allowed: Dogs, cats, birds (with the exception of flights to or from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) or rabbits (with the exception of flights to or from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands).

Destinations: Domestic flights including Puerto Rico and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

See Spirit's full pet policy here .

United Airlines

Destinations: Domestic and international flights with a list of exceptions. United does not allow pets to fly to, from or through certain states and countries. View the list here .

See United's full pet policy here .

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Khabarovsk, Russia

Khabarovsk, Russia

Tours, Attractions and Things To Do in Khabarovsk

Khabarovsk travel guide.

  • 1. Architecture
  • 2. Attractions
  • 3. Cultural life
  • 4. Souvenirs

Khabarovsk, Russia fascinates visitors with its unusual heritage and fabulous untouched nature. Tourists are drawn to the native culture, eclectic architecture and mesmerizing waters in this off-the-beaten-track destination, which promises a unique and memorable vacation.

As the center of Russia’s far eastern region of Khabarovsk Krai, the city offers celebrations throughout the year which are sure to give added flair to your trip, from traditional culture days to large-scale food fests. It is easy to keep a full itinerary during your stay thanks to its many theaters, museums, restaurants, workshops and quest rooms. Guests who want a more relaxed holiday can venture into the serenity of Khabarovsk nature, including the coast of the Sea of Japan or one of the region’s many picturesque lakes .

Khabarovsk Architecture

Khabarovsk, Russia

Khabarovsk architecture surprises with its harmonious blending of varying types and styles. This is due in large part to major changes which the city underwent in the mid-19th-early 20th centuries in conjunction with developments in the political, economic, scientific and technical spheres. The search for new trends in architecture came after the death of the classicism style, which had dominated the Russian Empire and the wider world for centuries. Beginning in the mid-19th century, the practice of mixing eclectic architectural styles began to emerge, leading to an era of amazing stylistic improvisations.

During the final decades of Romanov reign, many educational institutions for architects and engineers were opened. As a result, the face of numerous Russian cities began to change rapidly. Art Nouveau - a new, modern trend that absorbed several preceding styles – had come to dominate the architectural scene.

Many Art Nouveau buildings can still be seen in central Khabarovsk. These include:

  • Takeuchi apartment building (5 Muravyov-Amursky Street)
  • Esplanade Hotel (18 Muravyov-Amursky Street)
  • Luhta apartment building (84 Komsomolskaya Street)
  • Zandau apartment building (34 Muravyov-Amursky Street)

Khabarovsk also has many Gothic buildings, a style distinguished by its elegance and attention to detail. Every element of Gothic architecture emphasize a vertical orientation, as seen in the massive walls and columns, round arches and wide windows which contrast with narrow towers, pointed peaks and lancet windows.

Khabarovsk’s Gothic architecture is best represented by the artillery warehouse buildings located at 16 Komsomolskaya Street. Another notable example is the Red Guard Headquarters (105 Komsomolskaya Street), which has been preserved in its original form. The complex consists of two identical two-story brick buildings with unusual motifs containing pseudo-gothic elements.

Also of note is the early 20th-century Treasury Building, a luxurious red brick structure with openwork balconies that exudes an architectural grace.

Khabarovsk also has many Soviet-era buildings which were mostly designed in the constructivism style. Characterized by their enormous size and grotesque shapes, they often occupy most of the block and dominate the surrounding space.

During your Khabarovsk excursion, be sure to appreciate its unique architectural heritage by going for a walk downtown .

Khabarovsk Attractions

Khabarovsk, Russia

The layout of Khabarovsk is very simple: its 3 main streets of Lenin, Muravyov-Amursky and Seryshev pass through the downtown area, while Ussuriysky and Amur Boulevards run perpendicular to them. A distinctive feature of Khabarovsk are its many hills, so we recommend wearing comfortable shoes for your walk.

Begin your walking tour of Khabarovsk from the train station, where you can see the monument to Yerofey Khabarov, the famous explorer for whom the city is named. Nearby is a sculpture of a double-headed eagle, erected in memory of soldiers, officers and builders of the Far Eastern Railway. Moving from the station along Amur Boulevard you will reach the central market, just past which is Lenin Square. A spacious area with a granite fountain in the center, it is the main plaza of Khabarovsk and the site of the city’s Christmas and New Year celebrations. Next to the square is Dynamo Park, famous for its three ponds and Ferris wheel.

From Lenin Square, move along Muravyov-Amursky Street to reach Amur Embankment, passing most of Khabarovsk’s famous 19th-20th century buildings along the way. Descend to the embankment via two grand staircases or make a small detour onto Shevchenko Street, where you can follow the slope until you reach the embankment’s main stretch. Among other things, the area is home to the House of Officers and three museums.

As you move along the embankment through a park you will come across the city symbol of Khabarovsk, a building set on a steep cliff above the Amur River. It was at the foot of this cliff that the founders of a military post, the first semblance of civilization in the area, first landed.

After reaching the river and walking along Ussuriysky Boulevard to Turgenev Street, turn right to reach Glory Square. Here you will find another famous Khabarovsk landmark, Transfiguration Cathedral, along with a magnificent view of the Amur River and its dreamy islands. Glory Square concludes the main walking route of Khabarovsk, but from here you can reach any part of the city by public transport or taxi .

Khabarovsk Cultural Life

Khabarovsk, Russia

Khabarovsk entertainment centers around its many theaters and museums. Visit Khabarovsk Museum of Local Lore to get a better glimpse of city and regional life. Children and adults alike will want to visit Fishes of Amur River Museum, an aquarium which is home to some 90 species of the underwater world. To catch the vibe of local artists, head to the Far Eastern Art Museum.

There are several theaters in Khabarovsk, each of which is worth visiting:

  • Khabarovsk Regional Puppet Theater;
  • Triad Pantomime Theater;
  • Khabarovsk Regional Philharmonic;
  • White Theater, and others.

In addition, Khabarovsk offers several concert halls, culture houses, cinemas and art institutions .

Khabarovsk Souvenirs

While the city’s souvenir selection is not as diverse as in other Russian cities, guests can still find something suited to their tastes on their tour to Khabarovsk. Amur River and the Sea of Japan offer an abundance of seafood that can be tasted on the spot or brought home in dried or smoked form. Yet it is the rich culture of the local indigenous peoples which provides the largest selection of national souvenirs.

If you’re looking for an original gift, traditional Nanai slippers are comfortable and warm. Sewn from leather or fabric and decorated in a bright, colorful style before being trimmed with fur, they make the perfect house shoes in winter. Traditional decorations include amulets which are made from animal bones, fur or fabrics and decorated with ribbons and colored beads.

Standard souvenirs like plates, magnets, mugs and flasks stamped with images of Khabarovsk or its coat of arms can be purchased in souvenir shops, which are mostly located downtown and at the airport and railway station.

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Khabarovsk, Russia

You are here, about khabarovsk.

Khabarovsk is one of the most significant and beautiful cities of Russia's Far East. It stands on the right bank of the Amur River along the scenic Trans-Siberian railway and almost touches the Chinese border.

The city of Khabarovsk played a crucial role in East - Russian history and is famous for its historic sights, monuments of architecture of different eras, religious buildings, lovely parks, gardens, and artificial lakes which surprise its visitors with impressive fountain shows.

Khabarovsk History

Founded in 1858, the city is now loved by Chinese travelers and those who are going on iconic train journeys along the world's longest railway from Siberia. After days of relentless taiga, people reach this vibrant city with multiple attractions, plenty of historical sights from the tsarist-era, and a number of places to try traditional Russian cuisine. Khabarovsk is indeed a charming city that deserved to be on your travel itinerary. Especially, if you are the legendary Trans-Siberian is on your travel radar.

We suggest beginning your Khabarovsk tour from the famous monument erected in honor of Nikolay Muravyov - Amursky, one of the best-known explorer of East Siberia, a general, and the founder of the city.

Continue your Khabarovsk trip with a riverside walk along the picturesque Nevelsky Embankment and pass through the third tallest church (35 feet) in all Russia - Spaso-Transfiguration Cathedral standing on top of a hill. Take in the spectacular location and view of this Cathedral and its classic golden domes, dominating the city skyline and being visible from a large distance.

Your Trans-Siberian itinerary would become even better if you include a visit to the famous Khabarovsk Bridge as well. The railway bridge goes over the Amur River and is considered to be the longest bridge on the Trans-Siberian route.

Best Things to Do in Khabarovsk

  • Stop by the Nikolay Muravyov - Amursky monument
  • Visit the gorgeous Spaso-Transfiguration Cathedral
  • Take a picture by the renown Khabarovsk Bridge over the Amur River

Top Attractions in Khabarovsk

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Must-see attractions in Khabarovsk


Khabarovsk Regional Museum

Located in an evocative 1894 red-brick building, this museum contains an excellent overview of Russian and Soviet history, despite not having a single…

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The riverside Nanai village of Sikachi-Alyan is 77km northeast of Khabarovsk and makes for a good day trip. Here you can view the Sikachi-Alyan…

Assumption Cathedral

Built in 2002 this striking cathedral rose on the site of a far older church that was knocked down by Stalin during his antireligious campaigns.

Archaeology Museum

Undergoing a full renovation in 2017, this five-room museum displays tools and living essentials from early peoples. Pottery, animal-skin huts, dugout…

Transfiguration Cathedral

This highly impressive church's golden domes dazzle you from all over the city, with its prime location overlooking the Amur River. The cathedral was…

House of Pioneers

Now a 'palace of childhood creation’, the former House of Pioneers (the youngest youth group in the USSR, where children went before the Komsomol) was…

Far Eastern Art Museum

This smart and imposing building hosts a moderately interesting collection of local art, including religious icons, Japanese porcelain and 19th-century…

Tsentralny Gastronom

Style Moderne – the Russian take on art nouveau – defines this mint-green building dating from 1895; it's topped by a statue of Mercury.

Far Eastern State Research Library

This attractive library, the largest in the Far East, dates from 1894 and is one of the most striking pieces of architecture in Khabarovsk.

WWII Memorial

This impressive brutalist memorial to the Soviet Army's losses during WWII stands on a hillside overlooking the river.

Count Nikolai Muravyov-Amursky Monument

This striking monument to Count Nikolai Maravyov-Amursky, an early governor of the Russian Far East, stands overlooking the Amur River that he did so much…


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    Best Prescription Anxiety Tablet for Travel. Our Pick: Trazodone. Trazodone is another medication veterinarians commonly prescribe to sedate a cat for travel. "These drugs can help with anxiety and provide some level of sedation, and they tend to have less side effects than stronger sedatives," says Dr. Fadl.

  2. Cat Sedatives For Travel: 7 Things To Know

    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. It 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 ...

  3. Cat Sedative For Travel: 10 Prescription & Over The Counter Options

    Trazodone. Trazodone is an antidepressant that is commonly prescribed to sedate a kitty for traveling. This drug works to ease anxiety by regulating the level of serotonin, a neurotransmitter, in the brain. Serotonin promotes a sense of well-being. This works as both a sedative and to reduce anxiety.

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    A sedative is a drug that produces a calming or sleep-inducing effect. The term is derived from the Latin word "sedare" meaning "to sit" or "to settle.". The commonly used adjective "sedate," meaning calm, dignified, and unhurried, comes from the same origin. A sedative causes a cat to become "sedated" i.e. calm and sleepy.

  5. Motion Sickness in Cats

    Most motion sickness in cats is caused by the stress and anxiety associated with travel. Cats that travel only once or twice a year (typically when visiting the veterinarian) are not used to car rides and often associate the car ride with the stressful experience that follows. This reaction can result in motion sickness.

  6. How to Sedate a Cat for Travel

    In terms of dosage, the recommended amount is 65mg for an average cat and 85 mg for larger cats. Sedation is quite strong, though, so you should adjust it depending on the sensitivity and size of your kitty. Be sure to administer gabapentin at least 2 hours before travel as it takes some time to take effect.

  7. Cat Sedative for Travel Everything You Need to Know

    An inexpensive medication that was originally developed to help control seizures in humans. You should give it to your cat about 1-2 hours before going to vet, traveling or whatever causes anxiety in your feline. A single dose can last for about 12 hours. Dosage: 100 mg or a placebo capsule containing lactose powder.

  8. Cat Sedatives: When and How to Use Them

    Gabapentin is a medication that can be used for several purposes, including seizure control, anxiety relief, sedation, and pain management. It's a common cat sedative for grooming, travel, vet visits, and other short-term events. Gabapentin is generally considered safe in healthy pets, with minimal side effects.

  9. Cat sedatives: Vet's guide to uses and sedating at home

    A sedative can make this process go more smoothly for both cat and owner by mitigating the cat's anxiety and reducing the cat's fear in this new and potentially scary situation. Veterinarians also use sedatives to anesthetize your cat for certain procedures or prior to surgery. This ensures that your cat is safe, comfortable, pain-free, and ...

  10. Should You Give a Cat a Sedative for Travel?

    Cat Sedatives vs. Anti-Anxiety Medication for Travel. Cat sedatives work by coaxing your kitty into a state of sleep to keep her calm for long periods of travel—a useful tool for moderate to severe cases of fear of travel. Unlike anti-anxiety medications, sedatives don't target the negative, fear-inducing emotions your kitty experiences.

  11. Should You Sedate A Cat For Travel?

    Many cats dislike care travel due to the random movement, loud noises, and motion sickness. 02. You can make car travel less stressful for your cat by using pheromones or calming sprays , choosing an appropriate carrier, and reducing loud noises in the car. 03. Speak to your veterinarian about light sedatives, calming medications, and anti ...

  12. How to Sedate a Cat for Travel

    When it comes to the dosage, the most common dose is 1 to 2 milligrams per cat every 8 to 12 hours. The drug takes effect a couple of hours after administration, so we recommend you plan your trip thoroughly so the drug can kick in at the right moment. Chlorpheniramine comes both in liquid and pill form.

  13. How to Sedate a Cat for Travel

    The process should happen in a very calm and caring manner. So, it is wise to start by wrapping the pet with a warm cloth or blanket and then follow the following procedure for cat sedative for travel. A thumb is placed on one side of the pet's mouth, and forefinger on the opposite side.

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  15. Trazodone for Cats: Overview, Dosage & Side Effects

    Common Names: Trazodone. Available Dosages: Oral tablets in 50mg, 100mg, 150mg, and 300mg size. Expiration Range: Products should be used before the expiration on the package. Trazodone should be stored between 20 and 25 degrees C (68-77 degrees F) with excursions of 5 degrees C or about 10 degrees F permitted.

  16. How to Travel With a Cat: 16 Vet Approved Tips & Tricks

    Make sure to pack plenty of cleaning rags, paper towels, cleaning spray, and some cat shampoo just in case you end up needing to give them a quick wash. Image By: Abi Porter, Flickr. 8. Try Using ...

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  18. How to Travel with a Cat: 14 Steps (with Pictures)

    2. Leave the door of the cage open to allow your cat a chance to explore the cage. You want the cat to voluntarily get comfortable going into it. Do not force your cat into the cage if it doesn't go in at this stage. 3. Place the cat in the carrier, then carry it to the car.

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  21. Khabarovsk Travel Guide

    Visit Khabarovsk Museum of Local Lore to get a better glimpse of city and regional life. Children and adults alike will want to visit Fishes of Amur River Museum, an aquarium which is home to some 90 species of the underwater world. To catch the vibe of local artists, head to the Far Eastern Art Museum.

  22. Visit Khabarovsk in Russia

    Khabarovsk is one of the most significant and beautiful cities of Russia's Far East. It stands on the right bank of the Amur River along the scenic Trans-Siberian railway and almost touches the Chinese border. The city of Khabarovsk played a crucial role in East - Russian history and is famous for its historic sights, monuments of architecture of different eras, religious buildings, lovely ...

  23. 7 ways to travel via train, plane, bus, and car

    Drive • 4 days 14h. Drive from Khabarovsk to Moscow 9356.1 km. RUB 70000 - RUB 110000. Quickest way to get there Cheapest option Distance between.

  24. Must-see attractions Khabarovsk, Eastern Trans-Siberian

    Count Nikolai Muravyov-Amursky Monument. This striking monument to Count Nikolai Maravyov-Amursky, an early governor of the Russian Far East, stands overlooking the Amur River that he did so much…. Discover the best attractions in Khabarovsk including Khabarovsk Regional Museum, Sikachi-Alyan, and Assumption Cathedral.