How to Sedate a Cat at Home for Grooming

Your cute feline friend can be easy to handle when cuddling and playing. But they can be aggressive at times, especially when you attempt do-it-yourself grooming at home.

It can be body combat when it comes to making them stay still. Some breeds are particular with their personal space that even cutting their nails will seem like an endless battle.

Here’s a helpful guide for both cats and cat owners on how to sedate a cat at home for grooming.

Does a cat need grooming?

Even though cats don’t show interest in grooming, they will have to face these sessions in a way or two.

Giving them a grooming session shows how much you care for your furry friend –by giving them attention, proper hygiene, and grooming.

There are many reasons why cats need grooming, and most of them may go beyond the physical benefits of grooming.

To reduce discomfort

Your furry feline friend can have matted fur over time. Aside from that, nails can be long and can be infuriating for your pet.

Having a grooming session will let them feel thousand times more relaxed.

Each session will make them feel lighter with every brushed fur and more comfortable with shorter nails.

To prevent ticks and fleas

Bathing and proper hygiene are proven to prevent your pet from having fleas and ticks. If they catch either one, it will be easily controlled with frequent grooming sessions.

To prevent ear diseases and infections

Part of every grooming session is to check and clean the ears. Professional grooming will remove ear wax, mites, fluid, and dirt buildup.

To check for skin abnormalities and changes

Over time, you will know how your pet’s skin will usually feel, such as any tiny bump or change in the skin and body will always catch your attention.

Every grooming session is an opportunity to check for any abnormalities in the skin. Should you find anything out of the ordinary, you can have it fit with your vet immediately.

cats discomfort

Why do cats dislike grooming?

Not all cats will dislike grooming. Some cats happily look up to you every time you will groom them. There are a few reasons why they don’t like grooming.

First, your cat may have had a bad experience in the past. Cats can sometimes be scared of strangers invading their personal space.

In general, they do not enjoy being handled for quite some time.

And rarely, when the fur has matted for a long time, this can cause them pain, especially when groomers try to untangle each coat.

What makes my cat aggressive during a grooming session?

Aggressive behavior in cats mostly comes from fear. As previously mentioned, grooming in the past may have imprinted a terrible memory in them. Sometimes, a groomer’s table can resemble a vet’s evaluation area.

Cats have an excellent memory, and when they remember a negative experience, it can cause them to be anxious and afraid.

They then release their emotional set back with aggression and rebellion against being groomed.

Can I keep my cat still without sedation?

There are a lot of natural alternatives to keep cats calm without the use of medical sedative medications. Consider these non-medication sedatives for your cats:

Synthetic Pheromones

These are synthetic pheromones that mimic a cat’s smell and are widely used to reduce stress-induced behavior.

Most of these pheromones can come in the form of wet wipes, sprays, and collars.

Food Supplements

You can use food supplements that combat anxiety to prevent cat aggression before grooming.

These supplements support the natural chemical balance in cats to prevent them from being stressed and anxious.

Body Wraps

Towels and body wraps are widely accepted to keep cats still when grooming. Wrapping them around gives the sensation of being reassured.

Putting them in these wraps applies gentle pressure over their body and is quite similar to swaddling an infant.

Homeopathic Solutions

Some essences are used to control anxiety in cats. Most of these solutions contain cherry plum, clematis, rock rose, Star of Bethlehem, and impatiens.

These can be administered in your cat’s water bowl or wet food.

What sedation techniques can I do with my cat before grooming?

Sedation is pretty standard in cats, such that there is a lot of over the counter sedatives exclusively set for pets.

But before letting your cat have one, it is essential to consult your vet to make sure that your cat is physically able to take the medication without any contraindications.

It is also wise to set when the grooming session is to have these medications ready.

Here are favored over the counter medications that can help with your cat’s anxiety and aggression before grooming:

SARI / Serotonin Receptor Antagonist and Reuptake Inhibitors

This pill has been used in patients to relieve anxiety primarily and is also suitable for pets. This particular medication can cause dizziness and disorientation.


This medication is a popular anti-convulsant. It is also used to treat chronic pain and anxiety.


This sedative is an antihistamine, which means it is used to treat allergies. Sedation is one of its side effects.


This pill is a common sedative that is used to treat anxiety. It also has side effects like sleepiness and disorientation.

This medication is not for all as it is contraindicated in cats with kidney and liver disease.

General Anesthesia

This extreme method of sedating your cat is used when you cannot control the aggression. It can also be used when the cat has thick fur, has a true parasite, or when your cat has injuries.

This procedure should be guided by a professional and should be prescribed by a vet.

cuddling with cats

How can I sedate my cat at home before grooming?

Before considering giving your cat medication for grooming, consider having a trial run with the prescribed medications.

This trial will check how long the drug’s effect will last and give you an overview of how sedated your cat will be. Follow these steps to provide sedation on your cat at home:

  1. Prepare your cat by wrapping it around a towel or a blanket.
  2. Open your cat’s mouth by placing one thumb on one side.
  3. Use the other hand to pop in the pill or the liquid that has the medication. Make sure to give the right dosage.
  4. Ensure that your cat has swallowed the medication.
  5. Tilt the head of your pet up, and try to massage the neck area to encourage swallowing.
  6. The cat has usually swallowed the pill if it licks the nose after.
  7. Praise your cat for a job well done.
  8. Giving your cat words of encouragement and admiration will signal that taking the medication is a positive experience.

In extreme cases, general anesthesia may be used. You can give this in the form of an injection, inhalation, or a combination of the two.

This procedure should be done under the supervision of a professional to avoid accidents and injuries.

Is sedating a cat safe?

Sedating a cat is entirely safe. As a responsible pet owner, giving sedatives should have approval from your vet.

Consider your cat’s condition before handing in the medication so you and your vet will know if your cat can tolerate the kind of pill that will be used.

What kind of cats need sedation?

The behavior of your cat will primarily affect if it will need sedation for grooming.

In general, feral cats will likely need sedation because you can never be too sure when these cats will get aggressive.

Here are also other indications for sedating your cat:

  • If your cat doesn’t like to be groomed and bathed
  • If your cat’s fur is heavily matted
  • If your cat has a fear of the sound of nail clippers and shavers
  • If you suspect skin conditions that might irritate your cat while grooming

Sedation can also be done when you want to groom hard to reach areas like the armpit, legs, and under the tail. Medical grooming might also need sedation.

Can training cats help them stay still when grooming?

The best way to avoid sedating your cat is to train them to like grooming sessions. As early as a kitten, treat grooming as something they can look forward to.

Give then treats and words of praise every time they approach you for grooming.

Most cats overcome the fear of grooming at home if trained at an early age and if the groomer is relatively consistent and the same.

Do not forget to introduce the materials for grooming days or weeks before so they won’t hesitate to be with these tools.


Most cats won’t look up to grooming sessions. But it is essential to remind your pet that grooming them is part of caring for them.

Sedation is an excellent option so they can comply with every grooming session with ease and relaxation.

You should note that sedation is not for all, and it is vital to acknowledge the approval of your vet before giving them sedative medications.

Knowing how to sedate a cat at home for grooming makes you a responsible and caring pet owner.

Rita Wagener
Rita is a resident paw expert at Pet Keepers. A registered & licensed dog trainer, she also has a degree in animal nutrition, and runs her own dog training course.

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