Natural Sedatives for a Cat

By J. Lang Wood

Your cat may suffer from anxiety and stress for any number of reasons. A trip to the doctor, long-range travel or changes in the household can put a cat in turmoil. Often, veterinarians offer prescription medications to help calm animals that don't react well to changes in the norm. Though such sedative medications generally work well, they can be expensive and may have side effects. Many cat owners prefer to use natural sedatives, which produce less extreme sedation and have fewer side effects.


Catnip, Nepeta cataria, is a well-known sedative for cats. Catnip is a member of the mint family; in fact, if you crush the leaves, you will detect a faint scent of mint. It is easy to grow in home gardens and bears heart-shaped leaves with small, lavender flowers. Breaking the leaves and stems releases a chemical called nepetalactone which triggers reactions in a cat’s brain, giving the cat a sense of calm or energetic euphoria. When cats inhale the catnip scent, it becomes stimulated; but when the catnip is eaten, it provides a sedative effect, according to the CatWorld website.

Kava Kava

Kava Kava, Piper methysticum, is a tropical herb used traditionally as a sedative. You can use it as a natural sedative for cats, but only under the supervision of a veterinarian trained in the use of natural remedies for cats, to ensure the correct dosages. Kava Kava can be toxic to the liver; cats with liver damage should not receive it, nor should pregnant cats. Kava Kava can interact with other sedative medications, such as valium.


Valerian root, Valeriana officinalis, is a perennial flowering plant has been used for centuries as a sedative to induce sleep. It contains the chemical actinidine, which attracts cats and acts similarly to catnip. Valerian root is an effective sedative for cats, but use it only under the direction of a veterinarian who can prescribe the correct amount for the weight of the animal. Overdosage can cause stomach upsets and extreme fatigue, according to Dr. Jan Becker of the PetNutritionInfo website.


Feliway is a product designed and used for calming the behavior of cats stressed by common situations. It contains a synthetic form of a facial pheromone that cats use to mark objects in their environment. The synthetic pheromone is placed into the device, which diffuses the pheromone into the room, producing a tranquilizing effect on the animal. The pheromone is species specific and does not affect other animals or humans.

Rescue Remedy

Rescue Remedy is a commercial product marketed for use in calming cats. The product contains botanical essences of flowers, such as Clematis vitalba, Helianthemum nummularium, Impatiens glandulifera and others. In the drop form, a few drops are placed on the cat’s tongue or in food. The spray form is sprayed directly onto the cat’s tongue. Rescue Remedy is a good alternative for cats that will not accept pill forms of sedation.