Cats can sometimes be very agitated and nervous travelers. Some cats never seem to calm down on the trip, and can become a complete terror. Is it wise to use a cat sedative to calm your cat, and help them sleep on the long trip?
For airplane travel, the answer on cat sedative is almost always no. While the sedative may calm them while they are captive in their carrier, it may unacceptably lower their blood pressure causing additional health problems. Airplane cargo holds are not warm. When your cat is sedated they are not producing as much heat and may be more susceptible to hypothermia and potential death. A wide-awake cat will keep moving, and their body will make the necessary adjustments to keep itself warm.
While there are plenty of success stories of using a cat sedative while flying, there is evidence the chances of death increase for pets which are sedated prior to air travel. You probably are not willing to risk your pet’s life only in the hopes of making his trip more relaxed. Instead of a sedative, you may want to try one of the many pheromone or natural solutions to help calm your pet. They can be very effective, while not changing your cat’s metabolism negatively.
When you consider the fact no one is in the hold with these pets to observe and care for them, then you can start to appreciate the danger your pet could be in. If they start to have any trouble with the cat sedative, no one will know about it until they unload your pet at the final destination. If you are lucky the cat will still be fine, if you are not, your fun vacation just became a horror story.
Some people use sedatives for their pets during cross-country trips in their cars, too. There are two reasons this is not as high of the risk. Number one, you do not have complications due to high altitude. Number two, you are with the pet and are observing their behavior. Before you consider using a sedative for the trip discuss it with your veterinarian. They will advise you on the risks and the medications which can be effective. Do not be surprised if they advise against sedating your cat for the trip.
If you choose to sedate your cat, only use a cat sedative recommended by your vet, or one based completely on natural ingredients. Trying to use a small dose of human sedatives is an almost sure way to shorten your cat’s life. No matter how much you try to convince yourself you were trying to do your cat a favor, if things go badly you will be blaming yourself for years. The best way to proceed with your trip is to just tolerate the extra noise and the agitation of your pet. It is better for them to be a little agitated, healthy, and alive than any possibility of severe side effects.