If you’re a cat owner, you’ll know that it is extremely rare for your cats to enjoy traveling.
Getting them to a veterinarian appointment on time alone can be a challenge, not to mention forcing them in a carrier to stay put over long periods of time!
However, these are our fur babies we’re talking about, and any way we can make this experience more comfortable and less stressful for them is key.
Inevitably this will make the experience a whole lot easier for the owner, too, and one way of achieving this is through medicine that calms your cat during travel.
Essentially, you’re sedating your cat. While this isn’t recommended by all veterinarians, it’s a popular practice among anxious pet owners.
The most popular medicine is Benadryl. This is an over-the-counter human medicine that is available all across the world in grocery stores and pharmacies.
While you don’t need to ask your veterinarian before giving your pet the medicine, asking for dosage advice could be beneficial – allowing you peace of mind and advice from your vet.
That being said, never give your cat Benadryl if you’re traveling on a plane since this can sometimes cause breathing problems.
With this in mind, in this article, we will explore everything you need to know about medicine to calm cats for travel.
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Benadryl To Calm Cats For Travel
You may already be aware of Benadryl since it is a common medicine used to treat allergies in humans. While the FDA doesn’t approve it for veterinary use, in small doses it is considered safe enough for cats.
In addition to being a sedative, it can also be used as an antihistamine to treat felines suffering from stings, allergies, and bites.
There are other antihistamines available, however, it is important to ensure that they all contain one active ingredient: Diphenhydramine.
Why Use Benadryl For Your Cat?
Benadryl is a popular medicine choice when sedating cats since it is known for its drowsiness side effects – hence, a sleepy cat is much easier to travel over long periods with, for both pet and owner.
However, as previously mentioned, you should keep in mind that airlines won’t accept sedated cats in the hold or cabin (see also ‘The Best Over-The-Counter Treatments To Keep Your Cat Calm‘).
Moreover, sedating your cat should only be done in extreme circumstances. If you’re able to avoid using this medication – even during long car journeys – then it is ideal to do so.
As humans, it is somewhat difficult to determine the effects that Benadryl has on our pets, even though many owners use it without a problem.
Plus, it is important to note that the side effects your cat may receive from this medicine may not even include drowsiness.
For instance, some can experience hyperactivity – this is the exact opposite of what you’re aiming for.
Thus, just remember that every cat is unique. If you believe your cat would be an ideal recipient of the medicine, then we recommend doing a trial run with a smaller dosage.
This will give you a good idea of whether or not Benadryl is an ideal option for your pet. Other side effects to be aware of include vomiting, dry mouth, loss of appetite, and diarrhea.
However, you should keep in mind that Benadryl isn’t suitable for cats who suffer from kidney or liver disease, hypertension, high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism, and glaucoma.
Like always, if you have any concerns, you should always consult with your pet’s veterinarian to determine the suitability of Benadryl for your pet.
Additionally, it is important to understand the correct dosages since overdosing your cat on Benadryl is possible.
If you have given your pet the correct dosage but no apparent effects are taking place, whatever you do, don’t give them anymore.
Typically, the dosage is determined by your pet’s weight, age, and size – if in doubt, consult your veterinarian.
It is generally recommended to prescribe your cat 1mg per pound in weight, which can be given up to three times a day.
How To Tell If Your Cat Is Anxious?
Cats are known as independent creatures. So any situation where they are at a loss of control is one to be avoided. Unlike dogs – who are more subservient – cats like to do their own thing.
As such, below, we have noted some signs to look out for in an anxious cat. These include:
- Frequently vomiting
- Defecating in irregular places (away from their litter box)
- Begins to pant or breathe heavily
- Hides in dark areas
If you notice your cat being anxious, there are other methods to help calm your cat besides using medication.
Many cat owners have success when using valerian root or catnip. This can help to somewhat relax them over long car journeys.
That being said, cats who suffer from extreme travel anxiety may benefit from some more heavy-duty medication.
Below, we have outlined some alternative medications to provide your feline friend with a stress-free travel experience.
Alternative Medicine To Calm Cats For Travel
When looking at medicine used to calm cats for travel, there are two broad types of prescriptions. These include medicine designed for removing nausea and others orientated to calming anxiety.
The obvious signs of anxiety to look out for are your cat losing bowels during your car journey, and making a mess in their carrier.
The medicine we have listed below are simple antihistamines designed to prevent motion sickness. These are the four most common medications to treat an anxious cat:
This is a type of tranquilizer that is generally used before anesthesia and surgery.
Generally, it is used to calm over-excited animals, including dogs and cats. It achieves this by suppressing the central nervous system and is a cheap solution to calming anxious felines. Some include Aceprotabs (Vetus), Aceproject (Vetus), and PromAce (Fort Dodge).
This is a type of antidepressant that belongs to the SSRI class of drugs. It is a swift, fast-working treatment used to treat anxiety.
While there is some controversy surrounding the use of felines, there is a definite payoff.
The result is your cat has an enjoyable and pleasant journey without any unnecessary stress.
However, you’re required to get a prescription from your veterinarian before use. Brand names include Sarafem or Prozac.
This is another type of medicine used as an antidepressant for humans, although it can also be used in cats and dogs, too. In cats, it is ideal for removing stomach nausea and preventing vomiting.
Therefore, it is great for pets who experience queasiness over long journeys and helps to stimulate appetites. The most common brand is known as Remeron.
This is an effective treatment to treat both vomiting and nausea in cats and dogs. Even though it requires a prescription, it is easy and safe to administer.
It promotes healthy digestion, allowing bile to flow in the appropriate direction.
Preparing Your Cat For Your Journey
Besides medication, there are other methods to ensure a smooth travel journey with your cat. In fact, if you have a very comfortable carrier, you may even get away from using medicine at all.
Generally speaking, cats prefer dark and cool environments, as well as lots of space to remove any feelings of entrapment.
Hence, a high-quality carrier with enough space to add a litter box could be advantageous.
When installing your carrier, make sure it is extremely secure. If the carrier is loose it can be prone to moving with every bump on the road – causing an unpleasant experience for your feline friend.
Moreover, to enhance this experience, you could even consider adding additional padding inside the carrier.
Plus, you can even purchase cloth carriers that contain dark fabric that you can roll up and down for an additional sense of protection and comfort.
Likewise, before setting off on your journey, ensure that your cat has plenty of time to acclimatize to the inside of the carrier, this could include keeping them inside for one hour a day – or even taking short trips in the car.
To make your cat more comfortable, you can try to lure them inside of the carrier with treats instead of forcing them inside, which often spooks them and creates anxiousness – no animals (or even humans) like feeling trapped.
However, here, the conditions should be as comfortable as possible to prevent these feelings. As such, consider placing something familiar to your pet inside, like their favorite blanket – allowing them to fully acclimatize to the inside conditions.
You should never trap your pet inside a carrier for 6-8 hours without allowing them to get used to the environment beforehand.
Moreover, once you let your cat out after a long journey, you should be prepared.
Without medication, your cat can feel disoriented and anxious and can easily take off in unfamiliar environments.
Therefore, allowing them space to calm down is beneficial. Moreover, always ensure your cat is chipped and wears a name tag just in case they were to run away.
Nobody likes long traveling journeys, this is especially true when it comes to cats.
Unlike dogs, cats love their freedom and ability to roam around. This is prevented inside a carrier which can create anxious feelings.
One way to prevent this from taking place is by using medication. Not only will this benefit your pet but will also create a stress-free journey for everyone on board, too.
Hopefully, this guide has informed you on everything you need to know about prescribing your cat medicine to calm their nerves while traveling.