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Over the counter sedatives for cats

Updated February 21, 2017

Some cats have an anxious personality that necessitates an occasional sedative. Anxious cats, or non-anxious cats, may also need to be sedated during stressful events like travel or grooming. Cats may be sedated from catnip, pheromone sprays or over-the-counter drugs. Before giving your cat any over-the- counter medication, get advice and suggestions from your vet.

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Catnip, when eaten, creates a sedative effect according to Cat World. You can buy catnip from pet stores or grocery stores and it is readily available. Catnip only has an effect on about half of cats, so test your cat before the time you will need to sedate your pet. Let your cat smell the catnip before you give it to her to eat. The sedative effect takes place when the cat ingests catnip. If the cat only smells the catnip, she may experience it as a stimulant.

Pheromone Sprays

Pheromone sprays use your cat's sense of smell to calm and sedate her. Pheromone sprays are typically sold in pet stores. Look for a brand designed for stress reduction or sedation in cats. Prior to the stressful event, spray the pheromone spray into the cat's environment. For example, if you are travelling, spray the pheromones into the carrier before placing the cat in the carrier. Follow the specific instructions on the bottle of spray that you are using. As cats may respond differently to the spray, you may want to test your cat with the spray prior to an event where you must sedate her.


Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine sold over the counter for human use. Veterinarian J. Veronika Kiklevich suggests administering 1 mg per pound of weight for the cat to sedate him. You can re-administer the medication every eight hours. Check with your veterinarian to determine if diphenhydramine is a safe and viable option for sedating your cat.

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About the Author

Sarah Thomas has been a freelance writer for more than five years. She has ghostwritten e-books and articles on weddings and other topics. Her work has also been published on various websites. Thomas graduated from Daemen College with a degree in psychology.

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