How to Euthanize a Cat With Over the Counter Drugs?

Written by

Amy Sawy

Veterinarian. DVM


Joseph M. Plummer

Veterinarian, DVM, MVZ

how to euthanize a cat with over the counter drugs

It hurts to see our cats hurt. Whether it be because of severe chronic pain or simply an extremely advanced age, putting them to sleep at this point is usually the kindest thing to do.

For those who can afford it, we strongly recommend seeing or hiring a licensed veterinarian. It is to give your pet a painless injection, either at their clinic or your home.

But for those who can’t or who prefer to say goodbye to their beloved pet in private, these are some ways on how to euthanize a cat with over the counter drugs.

When to Euthanize Your Pet

This is a question that only you can determine the answer to. But knowing when to say goodbye is an integral part of pet care.

It is when we have done all we can to treat our pets’ terminal illness, such as liver failure, kidney failure, or even cancer.

It is when what they need is beyond the capabilities of veterinary medicine.

It is when our cat’s quality of life is extremely compromised, and it just seems kinder to ease our cat’s pain and let them die peacefully.

It is best to have a professional perform pet euthanasia. Still, there are several over-the-counter treatments that let your cat pass peacefully in your arms. Both you and your cat will feel more comfortable at home, and it is a form of low-cost euthanasia.

What to Prepare to Euthanize a Cat at Home


The first thing needed is to emotionally prepare yourself and others who consider themselves part of the pet’s family. It is definitely a painful part of being a pet owner.

Your cat itself however, only needs a few things:

  • A thick blanket for your cat to lay on during the procedure to collect any bodily fluids that may be released after muscles relax
  • Pills to euthanize cat
  • An identified spot for its burial

Ways to Euthanize a Cat With Over the Counter Drugs


Please note that even if you perform cat euthanasia on your own without vet assistance, it is still recommended to consult those who know the best product and dosage for your pet. It is to guarantee a painless leaving for your cat.

1. Euthanizing with Tylenol PM


Tylenol PM is a common painkiller in our household, used for relieving minor aches and pains. It can also help one fall asleep due to the presence of the chemical diphenhydramine, which causes drowsiness.

Cats, however, can be harmed when they ingest this medication. And due to that mentioned sensitivity, it is possible to euthanize a cat with Tylenol PM.

To humanely kill a cat with Tylenol PM, it is recommended to first feed it some sleeping pills.

Or you can begin the process with gabapentin, a sedative administered 1-2 hours before the actual drug. This ingestion will allow your cat to fall asleep and not waken again while the drug takes effect.

2. Putting a cat down with Benadryl


Benadryl is often used as an over-the-counter anti-allergy medicine. The drug is actually safe for your cats and dogs if given in the correct dosage. However, it is possible to administer Benadryl for your DIY cat euthanasia.

It is recommended to give your cat a dose that is 15 times higher than regular. It will take about 5 minutes for your cat to fall asleep and pass away without pain.

3. Going with Aspirin for Cat Euthanasia


Aspirin is a medicine used for reducing fever and relieving mild to moderate pain of all kinds. While extremely effective for the human body, cats are vulnerable to this medication, just as they are to Tylenol PM. It is simply too difficult for their systems to digest and process.

Euthanizing your cat with medication, aspirin, in particular, is a possible way to put them down. A few doses would be enough to put them to sleep peacefully.

4. Euthanizing with Tramadol

Pets have their own version of Tramadol made specifically for their own needs, and is a common pain reliever used for both cats and dogs. It is available in capsule, liquid, powder, or tablet form.

It is also known to have a bitter flavor, leading pet owners to mix it in cat food to hide the taste when administering it.

Using Tramadol to put down your pet cat, however, would require high doses which can result in your dog or cat having other side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, or maybe even seizures.

With regards to both the human and pet versions of it, you may want to consider other options first before choosing to use Tramadol for euthanasia.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the cost to euthanize a cat?

The cost for euthanizing a cat with lethal injections ranges from $100 to $500 or more, depending on the vet’s office or hospital you go to.

Local animal shelters, animal control facilities, or several humane groups typically offer the service for a low or free price.

The more expensive options usually include additional services such as cremating your pet, returning their ashes to you in a special wooden box, and maybe even burial services.

Home euthanasia services, on the other hand, typically cost between $400 to $1000. It has the added benefit of your pet not traveling back and forth and being put to sleep in a strange environment.

Is Pentobarbital Sodium one of the available cat euthanasia drugs?

The barbiturate anesthetic is commonly used in pre-surgical procedures. Lethal injection is administered to your cat, allowing the chemical to quickly enter the animal’s blood.

It halts your cat’s heart and brain functions in about ten minutes or sometimes even in as little as two, leading him to a peaceful death. It is one of the best drugs to use.

What are ways to euthanize a cat with Xanax?

Xanax or alprazolam is a powerful antidepressant drug. Due to its severe side effects, it is not a medicine you can buy over the counter.

However, many pet owners contemplate using a high dose of Xanax as a humane way to euthanize a cat because of its sedative effects similar to that of sleeping pills.

As a note, Xanax and all drugs should be used carefully. An incorrect dosage may result in its effects fading too soon, and your cat suffers, waking up in pain before it can reach death.

How much Benadryl do I give to put my cat down?

To ease their pain, cat owners sometimes consider benadryl for dying cats.

A lethal dose is usually between 20-40 tablets but is dependent on other factors such as your cat’s weight and pre-existing medical conditions. The lowest recorded lethal oral dose of Benadryl was 7 tablets for a 10lb cat (4.5kgs).

We strongly advise consulting with a professional who can help you determine the best way to euthanize a cat with Benadryl. It is to minimize the risk of doing more harm than good to your cats.

How much aspirin is needed to euthanize a cat?

Cats are more sensitive to aspirin than other animals, and humans are. Given wrongly, it can result in vomiting, internal bleeding, and more. 4-5 doses are suggested for cat euthanasia or toxic levels of 80 to 120 mg/kg.

As always, it is best to consult a professional before trying anything on your own.


Do-it-yourself cat euthanasia is a slightly controversial topic, sparking many conversations among pet owners online, specifically on Reddit.

At the end of the day however, you know your cat best and are the most qualified judge for the best way for him or her to go. Ultimately, even death won’t be able to sever the connection you share with your beloved pet.

Knowing how to euthanize a cat with over the counter drugs is something we hope you will never need, but can maybe help you or a friend if it comes to it in the far future.

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