How to Sedate a Cat for Grooming

Let's get real . . . other than petting, when your cat's in the mood, there's not a lot of other types of handling that cats will tolerate. Imagine then, trying to hold a cat down and cut or brush matted hair out of a long-haired cat's fur. Even trimming a cat's toenails seems like it can require body armor!

Cute ginger cat lying in bed. Morning bedtime in cozy home. Fluffy pet dozing on blanket.
Some groomers might use a cat sedative when they prepare a cat for grooming.
credit: Konstantin Aksenov/iStock/GettyImages

Some groomers might use a cat sedative when they prepare a cat for grooming. They do this because it can be so hard to hold a cat down, even with help. And being held in one position long enough to get the job done can be traumatic for the cat. A cat tranquilizer drug is safe when used properly or under a veterinarian's supervision, and before you know it, your cat goes to sleep, and when he wakes up the grooming is done!

Cat tranquilizer drug

Professional or home grooming sometimes can be a health necessity as a cat gets older, because they are unable to care for their fur as well as they did when they were younger. You might groom a cat to reduce mats in their fur, for a medical reason such as a shampoo for eczema or allergies, or for shaving to prepare them for surgery. You might also use a cat tranquilizer drug if you're traveling for a long distance with your cat.

Sedation for grooming

One common pill given as a cat tranquilizer drug for grooming or travel is a medication called Acepromazine, also known as acevet or atravet. However, it's not a recommended drug for cats with kidney disease. There are other medical ways to sedate a cat, of course, such as through injected anesthetic. Your veterinarian should be able to help recommend a home sedation plan.

Ask A Vet says there are no over-the-counter medications that work really well and safely for sedation of cats. You might try some herbal or homeopathic remedies such as Rescue Remedy Pet to help calm an anxious cat. Bach Rescue Remedy is said to calm a cat down through natural ingredients. It might be enough to keep your cat calm while you do a quick grooming.

Independent and commercial groomers such as PetSmart is an option if you don't want to or can't be sure that sedating your cat at home is safe. At Petsmart, grooming sedation is not used and they never accept a cat or dog that they feel has already been sedated.

But their stylists are trained in pet grooming for more than one year in which they receive more than 800 hours of hands-on instruction and safety certification, working with at least 200 dogs of all breeds and sizes. Chances are good that this is more experience than you have grooming, and Petsmart has all the tools and staff that they need to get the job done quickly and safely.

Training a cat for grooming

It's possible that if you train your cat to accept grooming from when she is young, you might not need to sedate her. Start training your cat to be groomed when she's a kitten, if possible. Brush her for short periods, then offer some playtime and treats to make a positive association. Handle your kitten's paws, ears, and mouth to get her used to the grooming you might eventually need to do.