5 Herbs to Reduce Stress in Your Cat
By Valerie Trumps
Some cats are naturally stressed and anxious as part of their demeanor, while others save their freak-outs for car trips and vet visits. Fortunately, effective remedies are available that are both natural and easy to administer. Try these herbs and flower essences to calm your kitty.
Why give a substance known to rile up Fluffy in an effort to try and calm her instead? The key to using catnip for relaxing your kitty is to give it to her about 15 minutes prior to the stressful event, such as the dreaded veterinary trip. After she hangs from the ceiling and bolts around the room at lightning speed, she will be worn out and exceptionally calm.
This herb is said to mimic catnip, with one significant difference. After her initial crazy-fest, not only will she be very calm, she is also likely to sleep. This herb is also used for humans as a remedy for insomnia and has the same effect on felines. The euphoria induced by Valerian will seriously chill her out and make her more docile than you could ever imagine.
Many people drink chamomile tea before bed to help them relax, and the same anti-anxiety properties are just as effective for cats. However, the dried flowers are a better way to expose Fluffy to its benefits. Studies in animals have shown that chamomile contains substances that act on the same parts of the brain and nervous system as anti-anxiety drugs do. The effect promotes relaxation and reduces stress.
My cat-parent friends and I have a long-running joke that once the humans have left the house, Fluffy breaks out the kitty beers. Maybe an indirect reason for hops as the main ingredient of lager is its calming effects. But don’t soothe your feline’s nerves by giving her a sip of ale; the dried flowers are more effective and better for her liver.
Bach Rescue Remedy
Humans have known the benefits of this flower essence combination in relieving stress and anxiety and, fortunately, it can also be used with cats (and dogs). Though technically not an herb, its reliable benefits bear a mention in any list of stress-reducing tactics. Perhaps the best feature of Bach Rescue Remedy is its immediate effectiveness. This formulation is great when you need to calm down your cat pronto. Be sure to purchase the alcohol-free version for Fluffy.
How to Administer
Herbs come in many forms – tinctures, dried flowers or leaves, essential oils, and teas are just a few. However, essential oils should never be used on cats due to their liver functioning, which makes it difficult (if not impossible) to break down the compounds and can lead to serious illness – even death.
Due to their delicate systems, the dried form of herbs is safest for kitty use. To prevent her from eating the leaves and flowers, put them inside of a tube collar or make a tiny toy “pillow” with the herbs inside. Kitty will still benefit from the relaxing qualities and be kept safe from over-ingesting them.
If you prefer a tincture, make sure to buy one professionally created by a reputable pet product company with holistic (also known as naturopathic) veterinarians on staff. Even with the best intentions, a home-mixed tincture can be extremely dangerous to your cat. Drops of your purchased tincture can be put in her water for extended calming or squeezed into her mouth for immediate relief.
Teas are best left to humans whose systems are more tolerant of steeped herbs.
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