Should I Sedate My Cat for Air Travel?

Hello PetRelocation,

I'm taking my cat on the plane but am super concerned about having to take him out at security. He can be aggressive when anxious. My vet prescribed 10mg Acepromazine for my 15.5 Ibs cat but I feel reluctant giving it. What are your suggestions? Sedative or not?

Thanks,

Anke

 

Hi Anke,

This is an important question. Owners sometimes wrongly assume that their pet's travel will be less stressful if they are sedated. However, sedating a pet when flying is dangerous and is one of the worst things you can do for the safety of your pet.

Sedatives can interfere with regular breathing and other bodily responses, and pets may react differently and unexpectedly to medications when they are in the air. In fact, most airlines will not fly a sedated pet, as over-sedation can be a cause of animal death during air transport.

Check out more information about the the dangers of sedating pets during air travel and the best alternatives:

Also, some of our clients have explored various natural products that can have calming effects (think herbal remedies)—this is worth asking your vet about or checking your local pet store. You can also place a T-shirt or blanket in the travel crate that smells like you or that reminds him of home. 

Above all, the best thing you can do to ease your cat's anxiety is to make sure that he is properly crate-trained. The more comfortable your cat is with his crate, the less anxious he will be during travel, and the less likely that he will show aggression at the airport.

Should you have any more pet transport questions or if you think you'd like some assistance carrying out your move, feel free to contact us. Thanks for your question and good luck with your pet travels!

 

Pet Travel Question Details:

Name: Anke
Number of Pets: Three
Pet Type: Dogs, Cat
Pet Breed: Mastiff, Bloodhound, Siamese mix
From: Austin, TX
To: Denver, CO

 

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in August 2013 and has been updated with new information.

Author:

PetRelocation Team

Topic:

Air Travel, Ask the Experts

Pet:

Cats

Country:

United States

Comments

Add a Comment

By Thomas on October 21, 2017 at 10:12 pm

Would be nice if you guys wouldn't scare people with your lies. :/ Who says we're not allowed to sedate a cat for flight? You guys are. VERY few airlines have a ban on it. And there's a difference between them being put in the cargo hold versus flying in the cabin. In the hold, no, don't drug them as the air pressure is lower than usual and may cause breathing complications. In the cabin you will want to listen to what your vet says, as it may or may not be okay depending on your pet's health.Either way, a note to future readers: Do your homework, it's an important thing. Just don't do your homework using this blog, as it clearly is providing bias advice.
Reply

By bethany@petrelocation.com on October 23, 2017 at 9:09 am

Hello Thomas, thanks for reaching out.

Our intention is not to scare our readers, but rather to inform them with our knowledge and experience of moving pets for over 13 years. With that, sedation is certainly prohibited by the pet-friendly airlines we work with.

While some airlines (who do not offer pet-friendly accommodations) may allow passengers to get by with sedation for their pets traveling in-cabin, we wouldn't recommend risking rejection at the counter or your pet's health. You may be able to monitor your pet in-cabin, but what will you do if your pet shows signs of distress?

Also, it is important to keep in mind that the air pressure in-cabin is actually the same air pressure in the cargo hold. Therefore, the thing we are most worried about with sedation is actually how your pet will handle the stress of the move (sedation does not allow them to pant regularly like they would). Again, we cannot stress enough the importance of crate training for all traveling pets since this is proven to be far less risky on your pet's health and more widely accepted by airlines.

Thanks again, Thomas, and good luck with everything!
Reply

By Flor on August 10, 2017 at 8:31 am

We are flying with two cats. I'm not very worried about the crate itself, but my cats get very anxious with lots of people, going through security with them will be a challenge. I'm afraid they'll try to escape and scratch me. any advice.
Reply

By caitlin@petrelocation.com on August 10, 2017 at 8:48 am

Hi Flor, we recommend being honest and clear with security when you pass through to let them know your situation. You may also try natural remedies to help calm your cats (your vet may have suggestions), but again, sedation is not allowed. Hope this helps, have a good trip!
Reply

By maria magan on July 21, 2017 at 9:15 pm

My cat already flew ( 4. years ago) and will not go near the crate. Impossible to retrain him
Reply

By caitlin@petrelocation.com on July 25, 2017 at 8:27 am

Hi Maria, sorry to hear your cat is having difficulties with the crate.

As stated above, sedation is simply not recommended or allowed, so if you're planning a move we'd be happy to discuss your options with you.

As always, we also recommend discussing your crate-training challenges with your trusted vet, as well. There may be a natural remedy that could help, or you may need to simply spend more time on various crate-training techniques in the hopes your cat will eventually start to see it as a normal place to spend time.

Hope this helps! Please let us know if we can be of assistance and good luck with everything.


Reply

By bethany@petrelocation.com on May 11, 2017 at 3:14 pm

Hello Gaynor, thank you for coming to us with your question. We really cannot stress enough that crate training is the absolute best way to prepare anxious pets for travel. If you need tips for how to do so (for example, leaving the top off of the kennel first), please visit this page for cats (https://www.petrelocation.com/blog/post/pet-travel-preparation-tips-how-to-crate-train-your-cat) and this one for your dog (https://www.petrelocation.com/blog/post/how-to-crate-train-your-dog-for-travel). As Caitlin mentioned above, it's also a great idea to have a blanket or an old T-shirt that smells like you in the kennel to offer more comfort. The more "practice" your pets get in the kennel, the better so it's a good thing to start crate training as early as possible. Good luck! Hope this helps!
Reply

By Gaynor on May 11, 2017 at 3:03 pm

I have just booked my 2 year old retriever dog and 9 year old cat on the plane from the canary islands to the UK, Both are very nervous, my dog hates noise or people moving things. My cat stresses in his carrier just 5 mins in the car, he pants like mad and howls and sometimes messes in the crate. I will be leaving in July and will try and crate train them but I'm terrified that they will be so stressed on the flight. I have natural pet calmer sprays but can you give me any other advice . Thanks
Reply

By Jmick on May 7, 2017 at 11:29 pm

What about simple sedation. Like you give your pet or a cat a pill or some kind of treatment before flight so that they are calm down because they are not used to flights sedation why do they do it at the vet obviously the vet is a professional but there has to be a way to easily sedate
Reply

By caitlin@petrelocation.com on May 8, 2017 at 8:50 am

Sedation is neither allowed nor recommended. Rather, crate training is key to helping pets feel calm during a flight. You can also place a T-shirt or something that smells like you in the crate, and many people also try natural/herbal remedies. Feel free to discuss with your vet, but remember that actual sedation is not a good idea. Good luck!
Reply

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