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Discussion Starter #1
Hello again!

We're driving home for Christmas on Friday - a 6 hour drive. After the last road trip ended with a lethargic, non-responsive cat and a mad, tearful dash to the ER that fortunately ended well, we've discussed sedating Ariel for the drive back. We're meeting with the vet tomorrow to pick up the sedative but I was wondering if anybody here had used medications for travel, and which ones you used and what the effects were? I've done a bit of reading and of course I'll be asking the vet a few questions but I'm a bit worried about dysphoria or other paradoxical effects - or even more rarer complications like respiratory distress or something. Ariel is perfectly healthy so I know the risk should be slight, but would love to hear your experiences if you have them. Thanks!!

Victoria
 

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what exactly did they decide had happened the first time? Did she get overly stressed and worked up? To be honest, I'd be hesitant to sedate in a situation like that because you're not sure how much of it is sedative and how much is actually something wrong with the cat.

Diazepam (Valium) is most commonly used. IF your vet thinks it is safe to try sedatives I would give them a time or two at home under non-stressful situations to see how your cat reacts so you know what to expect. That way, if there are any problems or reactions to the medication you can be nearby. Also, you will have a better idea of how your cat acts while on the medication so you know what is normal and abnormal while on the road.
 

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sedatives

Definitely give your cat a sedative before the trip to see how she/he reacts. Sedatives can have the OPPOSITE effect--make them hyper. Depends upon the cat.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Unfortunately the e-vet we saw was not our regular vet - the e-vet just said it was probably stress, but of course as soon as we took the cat out of the car and into the clinic she was acting totally normal, normal vitals and physical and everything, so it was probably hard to assess... and I think the vet thought we were a little crazy!

I did see in my reading that some vets recommend trying out the sedative ahead of time... unfortunately I only started researching yesterday and when I spoke to the vet about this a couple of months ago she didn't suggest doing a trial run and I didn't think of it either, and we're leaving tomorrow. How fast would you see any reaction? The only thing I can think of to do is to give her the sedative half an hour or so before we leave and just stay home if she reacts poorly.

Diazepam seemed like one of the better ones I'd read about - I hope that's what she recommends. I guess I'll just have to see what the vet says when we pick up the drugs today.
 

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So we got 10 mg tablets of acepromazine, and are supposed to give 1 tablet 2 hours prior to leaving. The tech also mentioned that he uses gravol for his cat, about a quarter adult tablet. I wasn't able to speak to the vet, but the tech said that dysphoric episodes are pretty rare on ace and can best be avoided by keeping the cat calm before and after pilling.

Of course though as soon as I got home I started looking up acepromazine in cats and found a few vets mentioning they'd never use it because it causes hypotension and they've had cases of sudden death in otherwise healthy cats, as well as the debate that it may not be as much of an anxiolytic as just suppressing motor control. I found other vets saying that 10 mg is on the high end for cats.

Logically I know all these cases are rare but I'm seriously questioning just skipping the ace and going with gravol - I haven't read about any negative consequences with that other than it just not having as strong an effect as desired.

I know these are kind of nitpicky questions, but I would appreciate any info anyone has on this!
 

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Oh no, no, never ever sedate a cat while traveling, and especially not with ACE. That stuff is very dangerous and it is very easy to overdose.

Cats react unpredictably to sedatives. You may end up with a hyperactive cat instead.

Sedated, a cat feels "funny" which causes more stress. Since she feels funny, she feels vulnerable which is a very stressful way for a cat to feel.

Sedatives lower the heart rate and slow breathing. That's not what you want while your cat is in a carrier for 6 hours.

I don't know what gravol is so can't comment on that.

Just get some Rescue Remedy and some feliway spray. Spray the carrier with a little feliway and rub some Rescue Remedy on kitty's face and ears. The traveling will be hard on her, yes, but at least she will be safe.
 

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By the way. Before I knew better I sedated a cat for travel (valium). It changed his personality completely, and permanently. He went from a sociable sweet love everybody Red Boy to a fearful aggressive cat, who hated every one and everything but me.

That may have been a rare occurrence, but in my opinion, it is not worth the risk.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Yeah, I'm still vacillating. I've pretty much decided not to give the ace, at least at full dose. I've been haunting VIN (veterinary message boards) all morning and you have some vets that say "cats are more likely to arrive alive if NOT tranquilized" and other vets that swear up and down by ace. However, the two threads describing acute death in otherwise healthy cats on ace have spooked me a little too much.

Gravol is dimenhydrinate... like dramamine. It seems to be commonly used primarily for motion sickness, but can also 'take the edge off'. I've had a couple techs and other cat owners mention it, but I'm hesitant to use anything without a prescription from the vet herself.

We tried rescue remedy and feliway the last time we traveled, which was when Ariel practically had her meltdown. But, there definitely seems to be a lower incidence of healthy cats dying from stress than from ace complications at least from my completely non-scientific survey of forum threads.

I guess I will try without the sedative and hope for the best. Last time it was really in the last hour or so that she started to look shocky, so hopefully we'll make it in good time...

Thanks for the input, everyone.
 

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My vet gave me xanax for my cat. We have a 15 hour drive, have to bring cat with us since he just had surgery. Hes usually pretty calm. Vet says xanax doesnt have any side effects for cats. A low dose should take the edge off the anxiety. He usually does ok in the carrier, but this should help a little more.
 

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Just an update for anyone who's interested...

So I ended up not giving Ariel anything at all, though we had acepromazine and dimenhydrinate on hand. I totally forgot about the rescue remedy and feliway (it was a bit of a mad departure - I forgot to empty the garbage that had fish in it too! :oops:) And in the end, she was like a totally different cat! She cried and panted for the first hour, but then she slept for the remaining 5 hours, taking breaks to look out the window and make faces at kids in cars.

The thing that I guessed made the difference is that I had her in a towel on my lap the whole time (I wasn't driving). I know you're not supposed to, but we were desperate to try something other than the drugs. It was also silent in the car - not intentionally, but we found out our radio was broken, but we'll keep it quiet next time too in case that had an effect.

Bluegoo, xanax (or alprazolam) was one of the few drugs I would have felt more comfortable about - I haven't read of any side effects other than causing excitability if you give it to a cat that's already stressed. Really though, I would have given her either the ace or the dimenhydrinate if only I'd had a chance to test them out in advance and make sure she didn't have any adverse reactions. But, now that I know she can travel without drugs, I'm not in a hurry to try them next time.

Thanks everyone!!!
 

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Thanks for the update! I'm glad everything worked out. I don't normally advocate traveling with a cat not in a carrier, but in this case I can see why you did.

Just make sure her collar is on, mircrochip info up to date, in the event the unthinkable happens.
 
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