Our cats are part of our family and as such we want to be confident our home offers them a safe and relaxed environment in which to hunt, eat, groom and sleep as this is the natural cycle of life for every cat. We do, however, have a tendency to fuss over our dogs, our rabbits, our chickens, and other animals, whilst our cats come and go, and we take their innate good health as a given.
Cats suffer from a number of common complaints, some of which are accentuated by our desire to impose on our domestic pets a lifestyle that fits in closely with our own, often without a great deal of thought as to their true needs.
Additionally, some of our cats have not had a good start in life and come to us after being abandoned or badly treated. Needless to say, these cats will have their own emotional problems and who can blame them if they appear fearful, anxious, aggressive or reluctant to trust humans again?
How can cats get anxious?
Cats are natural hunters; one only has to see how young kittens chase after a ball of paper, ambush us from behind a cardboard box or pounce on a toy mouse to realize that it is hard-wired in their DNA to chase insects, birds, leaves, feathers or a stuffed toy This fact is recognized by the pet industry and there are now literally thousands of commercially available toys that mimic the scampering and flitting movements of mice, birds or insects.
To maintain both physical and mental health, it is vital for cats to follow their instincts and spend time each day ‘hunting’ even if this is playing with a toy mouse or chasing a ‘wand’ toy Regular play will ensure a cat’s mind is kept stimulated, preventing boredom, relieving stress and keeping him/her fit and healthy
We all try to do the very best for our pets, providing a healthy diet, mental and physical stimulation and all the care and love we can give them. Unfortunately, despite our best-laid plans, outside factors can upset our companions; loud noises, fireworks, changes in routine, the introduction of a new cat or baby can all impact their emotional well-being and subsequently their physical health.
When these things happen, your cat may find it hard to adapt and relax. This is when natural remedies can offer extra support by providing just the right combination of calming soothing herbs to help maintain a steady; calm outlook and relaxed behavior. Herbs can be used effectively to help with behavioral problems in stressed or anxious cats, environmental changes such as a house move, a new pet, or a new baby They can also help with cats that have OCD-type behavior such as incessant licking, chewing or scratching or fear of loud noises such as fireworks and thunderstorms.
Herbs that reduce anxiety and stress in cats
Valerian strengthens and supports the nervous system and is a natural ‘sedative’ herb, helping to alleviate nervous tension, irritability, and anxiety.
Chamomile helps diminish restlessness and is a mild sedative.
Lemon Balm which is useful for alleviating nervous excitability and is an antispasmodic.
Another useful herb is Vervain which is an antispasmodic for relief of tension and a relaxing ‘nervine’ with an affinity for the liver and kidneys.
Stress and anxiety impact on our cats’ digestive system, in much the same way they do with us, and herbs which can be used to help with stress-related digestive upsets include :
Marshmallow root which is rich in ‘mucilage’, a thick gluey substance that can have a soothing effect on the gut when it’s affected by anxiety.
Oat straw is a nerve ‘restorative’, a tonic for brain and nerve cells, and which strengthens the nervous system, as well as being extremely beneficial for the digestive system.
Supplements that help to ease anxiety in cats
When buying supplements for your pet make sure they are sourced from a reputable manufacturer who can provide palatable, tried-and-tested products with researched formulations. Palatability is key as cats are notoriously fussy about what they eat and drink so liquid supplements that can be added to food or drink are best. Also bear in mind that plant tinctures are generally obtained by macerating the herbs in ethyl-alcohol and alcohol can make cats foam at the mouth. Tinctures blended with vegetable glycerin are more palatable and safer.
Your manufacturer or supplier should also be able to provide expert advice either from literature, retail staff or direct via an expert Helpline. Labeling, including ingredients and dosage, should be very clear. Follow recommended dosages carefully and if in any doubt about your cat’s health, contact your vet.