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How to Sedate a Cat for Grooming: 3 Vet-Approved Methods

Written by: Emma Stenhouse

Last Updated on May 9, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

grooming ragdoll cat

How to Sedate a Cat for Grooming: 3 Vet-Approved Methods


Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca Photo


Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Ophthal) MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Some cats do not like being groomed, but if they’re long-haired or unable to groom themselves for any reason, grooming is a necessity. If their coat is not free of mats and tangles, it can tug uncomfortably on your cat’s skin, causing discomfort and even skin problems.

If you’re struggling to keep your cat calm during grooming sessions, there are a few methods that you can use to sedate them. This will make grooming much more comfortable for your cat and for you!


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The 3 Methods for a Stress-Free Grooming Session

1.  Sedative Medication

For some cats, sedative medication is the most humane way to groom them comfortably. Before using any medication of this type, speak to your vet for advice. They may prescribe a particular type of sedative to match your cat’s circumstances. You may decide to administer the sedative and groom your cat at home or book your cat in for a sedation and grooming session at your vet practice.

2.  Non-Medicated Options

If your cat is used to grooming and you and your vet think sedation and pharmacological tranquilization are not necessary, you may be able to find a non-medicated option to help them instead.

These include things like:
  • Cat calming treats: The ingredients used in the chews and food are usually hydrolyzed milk protein, L-tryptophan, vitamin B, and L-theanine, which have been proven to be safe and effective in cats.
  • Popular plants: These include valerian, silver vine, and catnip. Each plant is different, so if you know your cat responds well to a particular ingredient, make sure to have it nearby.
  • Pheromone diffuser: Feliway is a plug-in diffuser that releases cat-calming pheromones, which are the chemicals your cat produces and liberates when rubbing their face against people or surfaces. These pheromones are for communication, which makes them feel calmer and more comfortable. Your cat needs to be within a specific range of the diffuser to feel the effects.
  • Calming spray. These contain the same pheromones as the diffuser, but you can spray them on your chosen surface for grooming.

Any of these may help relax your cat enough for you to be able to groom them effectively.

3. General Anesthesia

In some cases, a vet may choose to anesthetize a cat to groom them effectively. This may be used if a longhaired cat with extremely matted hair has been rescued and needs a significant amount of hair clipped away. If a cat has torn skin from mats or is suffering from other complications, like flystrike, using anesthesia will often be less stressful.

A well-groomed cat will be much more comfortable than one with dirty and matted fur. So, rather than putting off those grooming sessions because you know your cat doesn’t like them, consider having your cat anesthetized to keep them comfortable without any unnecessary stress.

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vet checking bengal cat
Image Credit By: Pressmaster, Shutterstock


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We have gone through the three ways to help your cat have a stress-free grooming session. Some cats may need a hand with grooming, especially those with long hair or if they have suffered from a problem that prevents them from grooming themselves, such as arthritis or a recent surgery.

Your veterinarian will help you determine the best option for you and your cat. Follow their advice so that your cat can enjoy a beautiful and healthy coat.

Featured Image Credit: Pxhere

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