Medicine to calm cats for travel

5 Best Types of Medicine to Calm Cats for Travel

Medicine to Calm Cats for Travel

I have had to travel with my cats.  Primarily to the vet’s office in town, but I have also had to do it over longer distances.  Using medicine to calm cats for travel can be very helpful, especially if you have a nervous cat.  If travelling is something you have to do with your cat and you’re worried about the stress it will cause this article is written to help you out.

There are a couple of primary types of medicine to calm cats for travel.  The most common is Benadryl and you can get it over the counter.   AcepromazineFluoxetine, Mirtazapine and Metoclopramide are four other types and none of them should be used without consulting your vet. 

Travelling with a Pet

Cats can be difficult animals to travel with. While dogs may love travelling to different places, viewing is as a new form of adventure, cats love to stay at home where everything is peaceful. This is why it is important to take some extra care when travelling with cats and to consider taking some medicine to calm cats for travel. While cat lovers might be a little reluctant to give such medicine to their pets, the formulas are not harmful. Additionally, you are not doing a favour to your cat by taking him/her on a trip without providing medication. The stress and anxiety will do far more harm.

My girlfriend travels with her dog all of the time in the car and on the plane.  Travelling on the plane is a topic for another article because there are significantly different rules.  However, it is good to know that people use sedatives successfully and the experience for both owner and pet is better.  She usually gives nessie the medicine an hour before take off and is causes her to be calm, sleepy and much less nervous.

How to Know if Your Cat is Anxious

Above all, cats hate having a loss of control. They simply like doing their own thing, as opposed to dogs who are more subservient. Here are some signs that your cat may be anxious – 

    • Hides in a dark place
    • Starts defecating often in irregular places (away from the litter box)
    • Vomits frequently.
    • Starts to pant or breathes heavily.
  • Makes excessive noise.

If your cat is anxious, then there are other ways aside from medication that can calm them down. Many cat lovers report success with catnip and valerian root. This can serve to relax them somewhat during the journey. However, cats with severe travel anxiety might be better off with heavy duty medication. Below are some of the more well-known medicine formulas to calm your feline for stress-free travel.

Do a trial run

One of the things that I tried with my ragdolls is a trial run in the car.  I got the cat crate out and put one of them in it and then went for a short drive to see how she would do.  Each of my seal point ragdolls is a little different.  My old cat Louis was decent in the car for the first 20 minutes but then he started to get really upset.  So it may mean that you just need to try it out, especially if it is going to be many hours in the car.  It’s funny because the most popular colour for ragdoll is the seal point.

Best Medicine to Calm Cats for Travel

There are two broad kinds of prescription medicine to calm cats for travel. There are medications orientated towards removing nausea and medications orientated towards calming anxiety. The most obvious sign of either is that the cat will have loose bowels during the journey, making a mess in your car. Most of the medicines are simple antihistamines to prevent motion sickness. The following are 4 of the more commonly used medications –

Acepromazine – This is a kind of tranquillizer that is often used before anesthesia and surgery. It is often used more generally as a way to calm excited animals and works for both cats and dogs. It suppresses the central nervous system and is a very cheap way to calm down an agitated feline. Brand names include Aceproject (Vetus), Aceprotabs (Vetus), PromAce (Fort Dodge).

FluoxetineThis is an antidepressant belonging to the SSRI class of drugs. This is a very effective kind of antidepressant that works swiftly. While there is debate over SSRI’s, for the purpose of calming down an anxious cat it is definitely an excellent trade-off. The feline will have a very pleasant and enjoyable journey without any stress. It requires a prescription from a veterinarian before sale and is also known as Prozac or Sarafem by brand names.

MirtazapineThis is another compound that is used to treat depression in humans, but also can be used for cats and dogs. It is effective at removing stomach nausea in cats so they don’t vomit. It is ideal for pets that feel queasy on long journeys and also stimulates appetite. The primary brand name is Remeron.

Metoclopramide – This is effective for treating nausea and vomiting in both cats and dogs. It requires a prescription but is very safe and easy to administer. It normalizes digestive function and allows bile to flow in the right direction.

How to Prepare For The Journey

Aside from medicine, there are other ways and means to travel with cats. You might be able to get by without medication if you use a really comfortable carrier (the cat ‘encasement’ during the journey). Cats prefer cool and dark environments, generally speaking, and they need a lot of space to feel free. So get a high-quality carrier with lots of space, enough to also insert a litter box. You can also place a few toys in the case. Try to make sure the carrier is as secure as it can be. If the carrier is loose and moving with every bump in the road, it will make for a very unpleasant experience for the feline. You can also insert extra padding within the carrier. Ideally, try to find a cloth carrier with a dark fabric with at least one rollup panel on it.

A few days before you take off, place the cat inside the carrier for an hour. You can even practice taking short trips with the cat in the carrier. It could also be a good idea to lure the cat inside the carrier by placing treats or snacks inside. No animals (or humans) like the feeling of being trapped. But at least the conditions should be made as comfortable as possible. Put something familiar inside the carrier, such as an old blanket. This can help the cat to acclimatize to the conditions inside.

You can’t just cage the animal inside for more than 6-8 hours without giving it time to get used to it. And when you do let the cat out, after a long journey, be prepared. The trip could be quite a shock and the cat will be disoriented and anxious without medication. It could easily take off in an unfamiliar environment and prove impossible to track. This is one reason why it is so important to keep an id tag on your cat while travelling. Thousands of cats end up in shelters due to being misplaced during travel. If your cat suffers from very severe anxiety then you can also consider having a pet sitter or friend take care of your pet while travelling.  

Medicine to Calm Cats For Travel – Conclusion

There are a variety of means and medicine to calm cats for travel. The best advice is simply to plan in advance. Get a comfortable carrier and take your cat on a trip. Even so, it is often a far better idea to simply give your feline some medication to make the trip extremely comfortable. It is a once off that won’t have any long lasting side effects.