Are you worried that your cat may become anxious, aggressive or hyper during your road trip or to visit the vet? There’s no need to panic because you can sedate your cat safely without the fear of having side effects. There are numerous ways to sedate a cat such as the use of over-the-counter medications, however, this could result in nasty side effects like vomiting, diarrhea, and drowsiness. Most pet owners are now turning to natural ways to safely sedate cats. Here are some of the popular options on how to sedate a cat naturally:
Why should you sedate your cat?
While cats are normally calm in nature there are instances when you have to restrain and calm them through sedation. Here are the common reasons why there’s a need to sedate your pets:
- to help your cat to stay calm while traveling
- so your pet can handle vet visits
- to prevent self-injury
- if your cat is recovering from an injury or surgery
- to remain calm during grooming sessions
- so your cat won’t get nervous during a thunderstorm or during occasions where there’s a lot of noise and fireworks
How to sedate a cat naturally?
You can sedate a cat naturally by using herbs like catnip or valerian, cat pheromones, or by letting your cat wear a body wrap like Thundershirt.
With the use of natural herbs
While over-the-counter sedative medication is effective in calming cats, most pet owners are concerned about the side effects, thus, natural sedatives in the form of herbs have become popular these days. Here are the popular choices that effectively calm your cats:
Also known as Nepeta cataria, catnip is famous for being a natural sedative for cats. It’s also known by other names such as catwort, field balm, and catmint. It contains a chemical called nepetalactone, released by breaking the leaves and stems of the plant, which triggers a euphoric and stimulating response in cats when inhaled and ingested. However, not all cats react positively to catnip and according to PetMD, only approximately 50% of cats respond well to it. Catnip is commonly grown in home gardens and has heart-shaped leaves and lavender flowers.
Some fun facts about catnip:
- it’s also a natural pest repellent
- it can relieve human ailments like insomnia and headaches if prepared as a tea
- it’s not addictive and harmful to cats despite the drug-like effect
- it’s native to Africa, Europe, and Asia and imported to the USA; it’s now commonly grown throughout North America
- most cats in Australia don’t react to catnip
- organic catnip comes in various forms like loose leaves, pellets, dental chews, sprays, flowers and buds, scratching pads, and even toys
2. Valerian Root
Also known as Valeriana officinalis, it’s popular as a sedative that induces sleep and results in a euphoric state among cats. It also results in hyper-excitability just like the effect of catnip. It contains actinidine, a pyridine derivative, which is also a pheromone for insects making it a potent cat attractant. When cats become stimulated with this herb they tend to roll around, play, and become excited. However, some cats don’t interact well with it and may become aggressive instead. Some cat toys are filled with valerian root while some pet owners give their cats finely minced dried roots which are mixed in the food.
Some fun facts about valerian root:
- this herb is native to Asia and Europe and presently cultivated in the US, China, and other countries
- its flowers were used for perfume years ago and the root has been used for traditional medicine since ancient times
- it contains compounds that promote sleep and prevent anxiety and also contains valorenic acid, isovaleric acid, and antioxidants like hesperidin and linarin that have sleep-enhancing properties
3. Silver Vine
Also called actinidia polygama, this herb has long been known as a cat sedative in Asian countries and it’s said to have more intense effects than catnip. Cats are usually given leaves and stems of this herb to lick and roll around to release its stimulating compounds. In the US and Europe, it’s given in the form of light brown powder and sprinkled in cardboard scratchers, washcloths, or cat toys. Some toy manufacturers have also come up with cat toys laced or filled with the silver vine.
This potent herb is worth a try especially if your cat doesn’t react to catnip. Its specific variety, Lonicera tatarica, has sedative effects on cats. Place wood shavings, sticks, or sawdust of this herb in the toys of your pets but steer clear of its fruit or berries as they are poisonous. Some cat toys nowadays such as fleece toys contain honeysuckle shavings to help cats become calm and relaxed.
5. Kava Kava
Also known as Piper methysticum, this tropical herb can be used as a natural sedative for cats but only under the close supervision of a veterinarian to ensure the administration of correct dosage. It’s toxic for the liver so cats with liver issues are not allowed to use it as well as pregnant cats. It can also interact with Valium if used alongside with the medication.
Also known as Matricaria chamomilla, it can calm and soothe cats but should be given in moderate amounts only since felines only need small doses. According to PetMD, research shows that the herb contains anti-anxiety elements and also good for cats with gastrointestinal issues. Be careful not to give the chamomile flower for your cat to chew on as it could pose health risks for your pet such as vomiting and diarrhea.
With the use of feline pheromones like Feliway
Feliway and Comfort Zone are examples of products that duplicate cat pheromones which work on the cat calming her down and relieving stress and anxiety. There are two types of formulations, the first one is available in a diffuser and spray form and helps calm cats that are stressed due to traveling, moving, groom sessions or vet visits while the second formulation is available in a diffuser that mimics facial pheromones of mother cats to calm kittens. The second formulation is ideal for multiple cats that are aggressive to each other. If you\re using the spray form, use it on your cat’s carrier at least 15 minutes before traveling for a trip or to visit the vet.
With the use of Rescue Remedy
Rescue Remedy is a commercial product created in the 1930s by a homeopathic doctor named Edward Bach. It consists of five flower essences namely:
1. Star of Bethlehem or Orithogalum umbellatum
It helps cats that experience trauma, shock, and abuse and helps them to let go of the trauma and enjoy their existence.
2. Rock rose or Helianthemum
It helps cats especially when they experience panic or fear during thunderstorms, fireworks, accidents, and vet visits.
3. Cherry plum or Prunus cerasfera
It helps cats who have lost control of their temperament and are constantly licking, barking, and scratching.
4. Impatiens or Impatiens gladulifera
It helps cats that manifest an impatient behavior.
5. Clematis or Clematis vitalba
It helps cats that sleep too much or not paying attention to things around them.
To use Rescue Remedy, simply add 2 to 4 drops to your cat’s drinking water, wet food, or on cat treats.
With the use of a body wrap like Thundershirt
Body wraps like Thundershirt apply pressure to a cat’s torso so she becomes calm and relaxed. This product is helpful to relieve noise anxiety and stress especially during vet visits, while traveling, or during groom sessions. Let your cat get used to it by associating it with positive things, you can do this by giving rewards in the form of cat treats. Your cat may resent it at first so just try to place it on her back without fastening it at first. Your cat will eventually get used to the body wrap and you’ll be able to fasten it on her torso in no time at all.
There are ways to calm your cat naturally should she start to manifest symptoms of anxiety and aggression while visiting the vet, traveling, or even during holidays where there are fireworks. Sedating a cat naturally with the use of herbs like catnip or valerian root, Feliway Spray, Rescue Remedy, or a body wrap like Thundershirt ensures that your cat remains calm and relaxed without the fear that she may suffer side effects that harm her overall health.