Feline Stress Relief: Natural Remedies for Cats

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If you’re a cat owner then you likely dread having to take your kitty in the car with you anywhere, regardless of the destination. For me personally, every time I get out the cat carrier for my furry child, Bella, she immediately becomes scarce and I usually have to pull her out from under my bed or from behind the couch in order to go anywhere. Whether it’s a five minute car ride to the local vet or an hour-long trip to my parents’ house for the holidays, Bella is sure to cry pretty much non-stop the entire time. Anyone who has experienced this knows how maddening that once-endearing cry can quickly become. 

These herbal remedies will have your cat relaxed in no time.
Photo by Massimo Regonati/Courtesy Flickr

I recently discovered a few remedies for the stress our cats face as we subject them to the stress of car rides or other terrifying ordeals. In Dr. Kidd’s Guide to Herbal Cat Care, Randy Kidd, D.V.M., suggests using catnip (Nepeta cataria) as a precursor to any stressful event in your cat’s life. While catnip initially causes most cats to become extremely excited, that excitement is usually followed by an overwhelming sense of relaxation–perfect for a long car trip. Dr. Kidd recommends exposing your cat to catnip about 15 to 30 minutes before the stressful event in question. Catnip can also be used as a reward following said event.

Valerian reduces tension and anxiety in both humans and cats.
Photo by Rob Rover/Courtesy Flickr

Another herb Dr. Kidd suggests for stressed out cats is valerian (Valeriana officinalis). While valerian is most commonly thought of as an herbal remedy for humans, it can also create a soothing sensation for your furry friend. Valerian is the go-to herb if your cat doesn’t seem to be interested in catnip, as each cat has his or her own preference.

If you have a longer than usual car ride ahead of you, you can try using lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) to soothe your cat’s nerves. Add a few drops of lavender essential oil to a cotton ball and hang it from your rearview mirror to create a relaxing environment for both you and your kitty. You can also add a small amount of lavender tea to your cat’s food or scent their favorite room in the house with lavender essential oils or candles. UPDATE: There is conflicting information concerning the use of essential oils and particularly lavender essential oil with cats. Print references published between 1998 and 2003 recommend aromatherapy and diluted lavender teas for topical and internal use. More recent online resources indicate that, due to the high probability of liver toxicity, essential oils in general (lavender in particular) should never be used internally or externally on a cat.

Another way to reward your cat is with this recipe for Kitty Cookies.

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