in ,

How To Sedate A Cat For Grooming

While cats are able to take care of a great deal of required grooming themselves, there are some elements of grooming that a cat cannot do himself.  Unfortunately, doing a deep clean on your cat’s ears, or clipping his nails, is not something your pet can easily manage. 

Proper grooming of the nails, ears, eyes, and teeth can help keep your pet happy and healthy.  When it comes time for grooming appointments, some cats can become scared or panicked when it comes to grooming, so sedation is often necessary.  There are many different options to sedate your cat in order to keep him and yourself safe through the process.  

Quick Navigation

Sedation For Grooming

The grooming experience can be traumatic for your cat, and sometimes your cat may have a terrible reaction to necessary grooming techniques.  Meeting new people and being handled can make your catfight the necessary measures for proper grooming.  

For some owners, sedation is the best way to help keep your cat calm and safe throughout the grooming process.  Sedation can take two different forms.  The first option is to use medication, including many over the counter and prescription options. 

These may be prescribed by your veterinarian.  The second option for sedation is a non-medicinal approach.  This usually takes the form of a tight towel wrap or other cat’s specific restraint.  It is important to make the grooming process as smooth and calming as possible for your pet to prevent other further stress complications.  Remember that anesthesia is only recommended for the most extreme cases.

How to Sedate Your Cat

For many pet owners, sedating their cats to have routine grooming accomplished is a necessary part of pet ownership.  Sedation can not only help to keep your cat safe and calm through the procedure, but it can help to keep the grooming staff and veterinarians safe as well. 

There are two different sedation methods that can be commonly used for cats.  One is with the use of medication, while the second is a non-medicinal approach.  

Medical Sedation

Medical sedation is quite common and helps to keep your cat’s anxiety and stress levels reduced.  Having the right type of sedation for your cat can help keep your cat more compliant through the grooming procedure. 

Of course, before using any type of medication to sedate your cat, it is a good practice to speak with your veterinarian ahead of time.  Your veterinarian can help advise you on the right amount of medication, as well as the correct time period to dose your cat leading up to his or her grooming appointment. 

It is important to give your cat sedation medication in the hours leading up to your appointment so that the medicine has enough time to become effective.  

There are many different medical options when it comes to medicinal sedation.  Gabapentin is a common medication that can help reduce the amount of anxiety in cats.  Further, Chlorpheniramine, which is commonly used for allergies, can also act as a sedation mediation for cats. 

Other common medications include Acepromazine and Benzodiazepine.  It is strongly encouraged to not use Benzodiazepine on cats that suffer from liver or kidney disorders, as this medication can further complicate existing medical conditions. 

Another option can be to use serotonin receptor medication, referred to as SARI medication.  This type of medicine can lead to disorientation and dizziness in cats.  Working together with your veterinarian, you will be able to find the right type of medication that works best for your cat, as well as his or her medical history.  


It is also possible to use non-medicinal methods to help sedate your cat for a grooming procedure.  This commonly includes different wraps and restraints.  One regularly used practice that groomers will use is to tightly wrap a cat up in a towel. 

The tight wrap can prevent errant claws from escaping and causing damage, and the wrap also helps to keep your cat feeling safe and secure.  Alternatively, there are different restraint devices that can be used for your cat. 

These warps are similar to “thunder shirts” designed for dogs.  They place pressure on your cat’s mid-section and torso, which can reduce anxiety and stress.

One benefit of using a non-medicinal approach to cat sedation is the fact that your cat does not have to take a man-made chemical just to be able to have grooming completed.  Often, medical sedation can have undesirable side effects and can remain in your cat’s body for hours after the grooming appointment. 

As noted, sedation medication can have dangerous interactions with other medicines and can complicate existing medication conditions.  If possible, it is always best to use non-medicinal sedation practices first in order to keep your cat calm and stress-free.   

Natural Sedation Methods

Compared to medical sedation approaches, there is also the option to use natural supplements and vitamins to help keep your cat calm and anxiety-free.  One option is to use a food additive.  The supplements Anxitane and  Zylkene can be used in your pet’s food to help keep your cat’s chemical balance in check. 

When your cat’s hormones are in harmony, it will reduce the anxiety and stress response that your cat can exhibit at the groomers.  It should be noted that the supplements must be added to the food well ahead of time to allow the natural chemicals to build up and develop in your cat’s body.  

To help combat anxiety and stress, there is also a homeopathic remedy that has been found effective.  This remedy combines five different ingredients to help balance and calm your cat prior to his or her grooming appointment. 

Made of different flower extracts, including Star of Bethlehem, clematis, cherry plum, impatiens, and rock rose, it is possible to add just a few drops of this mixture to your cat’s food.  The natural ingredients will produce a calming effect on your cat, which can help make the appointment at the groomer easier.  

Some pet owners have also have mixed success using natural herbs to help calm or sedate their cat prior to a grooming appointment.  Natural herbs that pet owners have had success with include passionflower, valerian, chamomile, and catnip.  These herbs can be distributed through a number of different channels, including hidden in treats or applied to your cat’s wet food.  

Cautionary Sedation

Of course, the above sedation tactics may not work with every cat.  Some cats experience an extremely high level of anxiety that even prescription medication is not able to control.  For these select cases, it may be necessary to have your cat undergo light anesthesia. 

This will effectively put your cat into a deep sleep until the grooming procedures can be completed.  While this is a solution for particularly difficult cats, it should be used as a last resort only.  Anesthesia can be dangerous, and it should only be used when absolutely necessary. 

Before selecting anesthesia as the preferred route to grooming, be sure to talk to your veterinarian.  You want to make sure that all other avenues and options have been explored before turning to anesthesia.  

Importance of Cat Grooming

Although it may seem like an extreme effort to help keep your cat groomed, it is a very important component of overall health.  Proper grooming will help keep the ears, eyes, nose, mouth, and feet in check.  A groomer will be able to help clean deep into the ears to prevent ear infections. 

The areas around the eyes can be cleaned and checked for irritants and infections.  The nose can also be properly groomed, eliminating any irritants that may form or collect around the nasal cavity. 

During a grooming appointment, a groomer will usually do a quick visual inspection of the mouth and teeth, which could help prevent tooth infection or gingivitis from forming unknowingly.  

Keeping your cat’s nails in good shape is pivotal to your cat’s health.  If your cat’s nails become too long, they can become damaged and painful for your cat to walk on. 

Further, long nails can cause the quick, hidden within the nail, to lengthen, which can make it impossible to keep your cat’s nails short if it should grow too long.  Keeping your cat’s nails short can also help your cat with self-grooming.  If nails are too long, your cat may inadvertently scratch or cut himself, which could be painful.

Further, grooming is a great way to keep your pet’s fur shiny, well kept, and healthy.  For long-haired cats, in particular, knots and mats can begin to form if your cat is not properly groomed. 

These can become extremely painful for your cat and can create hot spots against your pet’s skin.  Infection and irritation can form, which can be a major health concern for your cat.  But, with regular grooming and upkeep, it is possible to keep your cat healthy and happy.