Cats: long distance travel and tranquilizers

What do you recommend in the way of a tranquilizer or other calming medication for cats who will be travelling by car for 16 hours? I have two cats. Getting my one 9-year-old female cat into a carrier just to take her to the vet is a nightmare. My vet has been giving me a tranquilizer to calm her simply to get her into the carrier to take to the vet for her annual exam. I don’t know the name of the tranquilizer – it was a white tablet and I crushed it and put it in her food. But when I asked him about a tranquilizer for our 16-hour drive, he said no. I didn’t ask him why, but I suspect he may be concerned about some kind of bad reaction to the medication while on the trip and not having immediate care. I’m worrying about taking my two girls on this long drive, and want to call the vet and ask him again about a medication that will calm them, but thought it might help if I had some idea of what’s available. The one he gave me for getting the one cat to him for exams really knocked her out – she’d sleep the rest of the day. The two cats will be in their carriers in the back of a small station wagon, and we will stop every 4-5 hours to offer food, water, and litter pan.
I welcome any advice re travelling with cats and medications that may help calm them.

Try Feliway ( It’s a synthetic kitty pheromone which makes cats feel everything’s all right. I just discovered it this week because my two cats have been inexplicably fighting, and I tell you, it’s like a miracle. They went back to normal almost instantly. I am now on a mission to recommend Feliway to everybody – I’m not affiliated with the company, honest.

On a long car trip, you might have less problems than you anticipate. After a while they get tired of yowling, and the road vibrations seem to soothe them. Consider having them both in the same carrier; they comfort each other.

I have a very bad traveler and I used to make a six-hour drive with her every couple of months. I tried tranquilizers but they had very little positive effect. She just seemed to feel woozy and ill but still upset and scared—maybe more so.

jsgoddess: yes, your experience sounds like mine. that’s what I’m trying to avoid – when I used the tranq given by the vet, she seemed to know that something wasn’t right and felt sick and would hide, and I still had a hard time getting hold of her. I was hoping there was something out there that would calm her instead of making her feel sick and reclusive.
masonite: I’ll check out that site. When I take them to the vet, after getting them into their carriers, they calm down and are quiet. They remain calm at the vet’s and during the exam. For the trip, at this point, we’re planning on putting each one in her carrier, then in the back of our small station wagon. Then every 4-5 hours, get into the back (with all doors closed!) take one out and see if she eats/drinks/uses litter box, and then the other. It is at this point that I’m concerned one or both may go beserk and crawl under the front seats (and get under the driver’s feet). I had considered getting a dog crate (cage) to put both of the cats in, (and big enough to put in a food dish and small litter pan), but I wondered if they would get along. They are quite territorial and spat over various spots in the house, so I was concerned they might not like being together in close quarters.

You could try a product called Rescue Remedy. It’s a botanical/homeopathic thing. Which may or may not work. I’ve heard stories from people that swear by it, and others that say it did nothing for them. Of course, check with your vet before giving them anything.

Here’s a couple links: (you can buy it from this site) (more generic about flower remedies, not Rescue Remedy) (the source, so to speak)

If your kitties spat when they’ve got free roam of the whole house and nothing to stress them, you really don’t want to lock them in a kennel together when they’re under stress. That’s just begging for trouble (unless trying to find a vet while you’re on the road is your idea of fun.)

I’d guess your vet is probably giving you acepromazine. It’s one of the most commonly used critter sedatives. Depending on the dosage, effects can range from knocking a little of the edge off to knocking them flat on their hairy little butts. I aced all of mine before our interstate move, but only because I had them all in the car with me and could watch them for adverse reactions. And, of course, all of my pets were rather younger than your kitty. Some vets don’t like to use ace in older pets. I’m not certain of the details, but my understanding is that it’s got to do with older animals’ slower metabolisms and ace’s hypotensive effects.

You might try acclimating your older kitty to her carrier, since once she’s in and moving she seems to be fine. Let the carriers sit out in the middle of the floor (the more in the way something is, the better cats like it) with the doors open. Put treats in the carriers. Leave something she isn’t supposed to lay on in there. (I’ve found that dry-clean-only clothes in a contrasting color to your cat hair are the best cat magnets ever.) If she thinks it’s all her idea, she’ll go along with it a lot better.

I don’t know that I would offer them food and water quite that often. Actually, I don’t know that I’d offer them food and water at all while you’re driving. Fasting for 16 hours won’t hurt 'em unless they’ve got health issues, and it can really cut down on the amount of cat puke you have to clean up. Trust me, you don’t want them yakking in their carriers and having to try to clean up the crate and the cat in the back of the car at a rest stop. You just don’t. If it were me, I’d pull their food at bedtime the night before, and the water when you get up that morning. Then I’d stop halfway and offer the litterbox (you might consider getting a dog crate for the litterbox, so you can just open the crate doors and let them run from one to the other and minimize the chance of them trying to go anywhere). Since they’re not eating and drinking, they won’t need to go as often.

If you’ve got pukers, you might also speak to your vet about getting them an anti-emetic. Some of them have sedative side effects, which is especially nice for a nervous kitty who alternates between yowling and puking.

Mauvaise: thanks, but I don’t have time to experiment – we’re leaving Sept. 11. I ordered the feliway; I read the info on that site and it sounded like it would work my girls.
CrazyCatLady: We’ve been giving away most of our old furniture, and as things disappear, I’ve noticed that my girls are spatting and challenging each other for territory a lot more. I gave away the chair that my youngest cat had claimed, and now both of them are squabbling over the one chair that’s left. This is why I was concerned about putting both of them in one cage. I’ve decided to put each cat in her own carrier and use the feliway spray. I think I should offer them water – not good for them to get dehydrated – and take a packet of their treats and a small litter pan. My main concern was that one of both would get loose in the car and crawl under a front seat and get stuck. S.o. says I’m worrying about it too much – at our new house, we have a garage, and he figures that eventually they’d leave the car and run into the house.
Oh well, we’ll survive it somehow. Thanks everyone for your input.