A low dose of midazolam-medetomidine-ketamine (MMK) combination was evaluated in three increasing dosages. Each of the 18 cats was randomly allocated for several times to one of four groups. Five minutes after premedication with intramuscular (IM) 0.04 mg/kg atropine, group A (n = 43), B (n = 40) and C (n = 28) all were anaesthetized with 0.5 mg/kg midazolam, combined with 10, 20 or 30 microg/kg medetomidine, and 1.0, 2.0 or 3.0 mg/kg ketamine, respectively, IM in one syringe. Group D (n = 11) received the established combination of 50 microg/kg medetomidine and 10.0 mg/kg ketamine for comparison. Because this study was in cooperation with a project on dental prophylaxis, cats had to be immobilized for approximately 1 h. Therefore, anaesthesia was prolonged with propofol to effect, if necessary. Duration of MMK anaesthesia was between 30 +/- 15, 45 +/- 19 and 68 +/- 28 min in groups A, B and C respectively. A significant decrease of respiratory rate was observed with increasing dosage, but venous carbon dioxide (pCO(2)) and pH values in combination with arterial oxygen saturation (SpO(2)) values were not alarming. The diastolic blood pressure particularly showed an increase. MMK combination A showed the best cardiovascular results, but it cannot be recommended due to disadvantages like a long induction time sometimes accompanied by excitations and the short duration of surgical immobilization. Dosage C in contrast had fewer side effects but less favourable cardiovascular results and a longer recovery period. However, either dosage B or C was suitable as a repeatable IM immobilization method for non-invasive procedures in healthy cats.