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Sedating your cat for travel

Here at Pet Relocation, we are constantly asked about sedation or the use of tranquilizers when flying our customers' pets. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), sedating cats or dogs during air travel may increase the risk of heart and respiratory problems.

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Veterinarians recommend leaving it open in the house with a chew bone or other familiar objects inside so that your pet will spend time in the kennel."An animal's natural ability to balance and maintain equilibrium is altered under sedation," noted Dr.Patricia Olson, a director of the American Humane Association (AHA).Typically the cat is placed in an acrylic box into which a combination of oxygen and the gas is pumped.The mixture must be balanced and adjusted for the individual cat.Buspirone and alprazolam are pills commonly prescribed for feline sedation.

Cats aren't known for willingly taking medication, so getting a sedative down your kitty's throat can be difficult and could end up in bloody scratches and hurt feelings.

Although animals may be excitable while being handled during the trip to the airport and prior to loading, they probably revert to a quiescent resting state in the dark, closed cargo hold, and the sedatives may have an excessive effect.

There have been a number of instances where sedated pets traveling by air needed veterinary care to recover from the sedation. Occasionally, owners have given repeated doses to ensure a comfortable journey for their pet.

"When the kennel is moved, a sedated animal may not be able to brace and prevent injury." JAVMA, Vol 207, No.l 6, September 15, 1995.

Increased altitude can also create respiratory and cardiovascular problems for dogs and cats that are sedated or tranquilized.

Sedatives or natural calming agents can help your cat travel a little easier.