Thanks to their sensitive nature, cats are more prone to stress and anxiety than many other animals. From California poppy to valerian, these herbs help calm anxious kitties.
Anyone who has lived with a cat knows that cats are particularly sensitive creatures. They seem to be much more attentive to their environment than we, or even our dogs, are. The slightest change in a cat’s routine – such as the moving of furniture or the person who has just passed the table – can cause anxiety. And unlike almost all other animals, Kitty prefers to do things her own way, which further raises the anxiety barrier, especially when her expectations are not met. Fortunately, there are many ways to calm cat anxiety, including the herbs described in this article.
Different herbs for different circumstances.
Calming herbs can generally be described as those that help relieve anxiety and induce a calmer, more relaxed state. However, it is important to keep in mind that no two calming herbs are completely alike.
1- Valerian root (Latin name).
Due to the anticonvulsant and carminative effects of its saponic constituents, valerian root is particularly suitable for cases where high anxiety manifests itself as vomiting. Cats are known to retain tension in the intestines. In this case, ten to twenty drops of a glycerin-based valerian tincture, placed directly in the mouth, usually provides quick relief.
2- Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
If your cat cannot tolerate valerian, a similar dose of glycerine tincture of catnip may work. Don’t worry about Kitty going crazy like he did with his catnip mouse: the euphoric effects of catnip (which are good in themselves) only occur when the aromatic nepetalactones in the herb activate the cat’s accessory olfactory system in his nose. When ingested, catnip does not cause euphoria but serves as a general sedative that also helps relieve intestinal gas and bloating, the by-products of a nervous gut.
3- Lemon balm (Melissa officianlis).
This plant has similar activities in the intestines and induces a subtle calming effect. Science suggests that lemon balm may also help curb hyperthyroidism, a problem that many cats suffer from. In theory, the herb inhibits the uptake of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) at the TSH receptors. However, if you suspect your cat has thyroid disease, a visit to the veterinarian is in order, as hyperthyroidism can lead to serious, even fatal, health problems. Lemon balm can also interfere with some thyroid medications.
4- Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata).
The chemicals in passionflower have sedative, sleep-inducing and spasmolytic effects, but I find it most effective in calming the mind during bouts of jealousy, separation anxiety, fear or grief. Administer ten drops of alcohol-free tincture orally up to twice a day.
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