How to Sedate a Cat (Step-By-Step Guide)

When it comes to how to sedate a cat, it can be quite difficult, right? Cat’s sedation is not very well known yet.

Some even confuse it with anesthesia. But the term anesthesia and sedation are quite different.

Anesthesia is just a way to relieve pain and make cats conscious when sedation is a way to de-stress the cat and make it relaxed.

Sedation can be medical or non-medical and can be performed by even ordinary people. So when it comes to traveling with your stressed cat or taking it to the vet, sedating comes quite handy.

In fact, sedating a stressed wild cat can make your trip so smooth and can prevent so many unwanted situations than you can imagine.

So today I am going to help you know all about sedation, sedatives, and how to sedate a cat in the right way.

What is Sedation?

Sedation generally means making an animal calm by easing its agitation and leading it to sleep. It is a way of reducing stress and anxiety.

Sedation actually works by modulating the central nerves. It is induced by using various types of medications known as sedatives that calm the nervous system which decreases excitement and irritability. Thus it de-stresses cats and makes them relaxed and reduces their vulnerability to attack.

So sedation is very helpful when dealing with a stressed cat on long trips.


Sedation and Anesthesia

Most people think sedation is just another name of anesthesia which is completely wrong. What anesthesia does is make the cat unconscious and relieve the pain of surgery which sedation doesn’t do at all.

Sedation reduces their stress and excitement and calms their central nerves which result in making the cat relaxed.

Sometimes sedation leads the cat to sleep for a few hours.

So when you are sedating your stressed cat while taking it to the vet for a checkup or going on a long trip you are actually using medication to relax him, not making him unconscious.

Besides, sedation is way too less harmful to cats than anesthesia.

But sometimes sedation is done a few hours before giving cats’ anesthesia for surgery. You can know more about it on millhousevets.


Why Sedate Your Cat

Cats are naturally sleepy creatures. Most of them sleep for 12-14 hours every day. So it is obvious to ask why to sedate them when they are already so sleepy.

You should know cat sedation is not something you apply regularly or overdo it. You have to sedate your cat once in a while when you have no other replacement.

Like when your cat is acting vulnerable or stressed, sedating it will make it calm and reduce its vulnerability.

Thus sedating it will prevent unwanted and dangerous situations and ensure safety for both you and your cat.

When You Should Sedate Your Cat

Though sedating your cat can come useful in many times it does have some side effects. So you should only sedate your cat when there this no other replacement for it.

That’s why you have to know properly when you should sedate your cat and when you should not.

  • Sedation is widely used by cat owners when they are going on a trip with their cats. Cats are not very happy travelers. So when they are put and locked inside a dark cat carrier and being carried on for a long time it is natural for them to get scared and sometimes it leads to extreme anxiety and stress. So if you are going on a long trip you should sedate your cat to keep it calm during the journey. I really like this product for calming my cat. It is clinically proven and worked for me 90% of the time!
  • If you have adopted a new cat and it’s acting vulnerable you can give it a mild sedative to calm down and cope up with the new place.
  • If you rescue an injured cat to treat the injury you can sedate it to prevent any harms from it.
  • In case if your cat isn’t very fond of vets and acts vulnerable while checkup you can sedate it.
  • You must sedate your cat if it gets an extreme wound and doesn’t let you treat it. Because over anxiety while having blood loss can be extremely dangerous for your cat.
  • Some people want to sedate their cat for cutting their nails. I personally think you shouldn’t use sedatives for such a little purpose. Instead, cut its nails by patting it and giving it treats. I found this nail clipper to work best for my cat. It has really nice grips and cuts cleanly every time! Still, if you want to sedate it for this purpose use a very mild sedative.



If you want to know how to sedate your cat you must learn properly about sedatives. Sedatives are normally drugs or proportion of different food elements that are used for inducing sedation.

The chemicals in the sedatives react with the nerves and modulate central nervous system and result in calming the body of the animal and decreasing its mental awareness.

In earlier days, sedatives were only used in humans for de-stressing them. But now-a-day cat owners also use sedatives on their cats to make them calm in unfamiliar situations. There is a wide range of sedatives that act in different ways. But what all the sedatives do is modulate the central nervous system.

You can calm your car with these treats.

Sedatives and Hypnotics

Some people confuse sedatives with hypnotics when these are not totally the same. Hypnotics are what lead cats to sleep but the right amount of sedatives only calm the mind.

Though the same drug can be used both as a sedative and a hypnotic, the main difference is its amount and dosage of it.

When it is used in a proper amount it works as a sedative. But when it overdoses it becomes hypnotic. That’s why you have to very careful with the amount of it.

Types of Sedatives

Though there’s a wide range of sedatives, there are actually two types of it.

Medical sedatives and non-medical sedatives. Both of them can be used on cats.

Medical Sedatives

Medical sedatives are actually chemicals and drugs. If applied in the right amount, they are the ones that work in a short time and work best.

Medical sedatives can be applied through injections or taken as pills.

Sedatives through Injection

If your cat is very picky about swallowing bitter sedatives then you can try pushing sedatives via injection.

There are some sedatives that can be pushed by injections. But the amount needs to be appropriate.

Overdose can cause unconsciousness and even extreme conditions. That’s why always take your cat to the vet and let him take care of it.

The vet will determine the dose and its density by measuring your cat’s weight.

If needed, he will apply it in a little amount a few times to check if your cat has an allergy or any adverse effect.

Here are a few sedatives that can be pushed by injections:

  • Acepromazine
  • Diazepam
  • Xylazine
  • Ketamine

Oral Sedatives

Most of the sedatives come in pill form. If you are sedating your cat all by yourself, it’s always safe to give your cat oral sedatives.

Because oral sedatives come in the right proportion and you can determine the dose by yourself.

Some oral sedatives are-

  • Buspirone
  • Alprazolam
  • Benzodiazepine
  • Chlorpheniramine
  • phenobarbital
  • SARI

Non-Medical Sedatives

Though medical sedatives which are actually drugs and chemicals work almost immediately they come with a lot of side effects.

Compared with them, non-medical sedatives are safer and have fewer side effects.

There are some natural plants that produce such scent if crushed or mixed with water and they help in calming your cat’s mind.

There are some shops that sell essential oils with the essence of those plants that you can buy.

If you don’t want to spend money, you can also produce them in your garden. Such plants are-

  • Kava Kava/ Piper methysticum
  • Valerian root
  • Catnip/Nepeta cataria

There are also some products sold in the market that act naturally as a sedative and don’t cause any kind of side effects.

If you need to sedate your cat often then these are the best ones for you as they won’t harm your cat’s health.

Feliway: Feliway is a product that can be used to sedate your cat. It includes feline facial pheromones that cats use to communicate with other cats and mark their territory and objects. The Feliway diffuses this pheromone in the room that sedates cats without affecting humans and other animals.

Synthetic Pheromones: This also contains feline pheromones but in a synthetic form. It can be used as cat collar or can be attached to their toys or beds. You can get them in Sergeant’s Pet Care and Comfort Zone.

Body wraps or towels: Body wraps or towels help a lot in reducing the anxiety of cats. You can wrap your cat with one and keep for a few hours until your cat is calm.

Rescue Remedy: Rescue Remedy is a product that contains flower essence and comes in liquid form. A few drops of it mixed with water or cat food can help in sedating the cat.


How to sedate Your Cat?

Now that you know about sedation, sedatives and when to use them, it’s time for you to learn step by step on how to sedate a cat in the right way.

Choosing the medication

You have already come to know about different kind of sedatives, you have to choose the right one for your cat.

Visiting the vet

If you choose a medical medication, you must take your cat to the vet to know the right dosage for your cat. If the sedative needs to be pushed via injection, always let your vet do it.

Checking for adverse effect

Before a few days of sedating your cat, apply a very little amount of sedative and check if your cat has any adverse effect. If your cat gets allergy, vomits or show any other negative signs, avoid that sedative.

Preparing your cat

When the day of sedating comes, prepare your cat a few hours beforehand. Play with it, pat it, give it its favorite treats and try to keep it jolly. Then wrap it in a towel with only keeping its head out.

Giving the sedative

Hold your cat very firmly and put a treat in front of its mouth. When it opens its mouth, give the sedative immediately and then give it the treat.

Make sure your cat swallows it. But if it doesn’t want to have it at any cost, mix the sedative with its food and then feed it.

Waiting for the result

There are a few medical sedatives that work immediately, but most of the sedatives and non-medicals sedatives take time to kick in.

So wait patiently for that and don’t overdose on it for the quick result.

Side Effects

Non-medical sedatives don’t have side effects. But no chemicals come without side effects. So always consult with your vet to prevent any side effects.

The side effects generally are-

  • Low Blood Pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Hypothermia
  • Allergy

Well, if you want to know how to sedate a cat you must know everything about sedation and sedatives and when your cat should be sedated.

So this is my guide for you. Now that you have learned about how to sedate a cat properly, you are good to sedate your cat.


avatar Noah
I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets. read more...

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