The human-feline relationship is one of the oldest alliances in the animal kingdom. As humans began to cultivate crops, opportunistic animals, like rodents, started to move in to partake in the delectable fruits of mankind’s labor.
With the human grain barrels being broken and robbed, if not downright spoiled, something had to be done, or early civilizations would starve.
Nature answered the call. As the rodents moved into cities, so too did the animals that hunted them. With the feline’s arrival, rodent populations dwindled, food went unmolested, and illness diminished. Thus, people began to take note of these silent wardens of the food bin. Offerings were made to lure the cats into homes, and soon cultures began to see the cat as more than a furry friend.
The 6 Best Natural Sedatives For Your Cat
Eons later, the cat remains a beloved companion. While the life of a house cat seems pretty laid back, felines do tend to get stressed out fairly quickly. Cats, by nature, love routine and do not enjoy a change in their environment, though each cat will handle these difficulties differently. Helping your cat cope with changes in their routine, environment, or life altogether is quite simple.
Here are five natural sedatives that can soothe your four-legged friend’s worried mind.
Catnip (Nepeta Cataria)
Many have written extensively about the effects of catnip. The compound nepetalactone found in catnip will activate specific pleasure centers of the cat’s brain. The cat may exhibit drooling, rubbing, hyperactivity, licking, jumping, and biting.
Once your kitty is done rolling about the room and swinging from the chandelier for approximately five minutes before they will be ready to relax. Therefore, administer catnip about 10 minutes before any foreseen stresses.
Catnip is best prepared fresh from the plant and twisted between your fingers to create bruising and release the almost-minty smell. If dried, sprinkle leaves into a crumpled up piece of paper, and let your cat play. You can find the dried leaves at pet stores or get fresh catnip from most nurseries.
Cat Thyme (Teucrium Marum)
Cat Thyme is a particularly pungent plant for many people, but a beloved bit of foliage to our feline friends. It can grow up to two feet as long as you keep it safe from your kitty. Cat thyme has many of the same effects as catnip, though with a notably more contentedness result.
Much like catnip as well, cats only need to smell the broken and bruised leaves to receive its calming effects. Also, some cats prefer cat thyme over catnip.
In case your feline friend is not crazy about catnip, this one might be worth a shot. Cat thyme, much like catnip, can be purchased at most nurseries.
Catmint (Nepeta Mussini)
Catmint is a very close relative of catnip with a cone of purple flowers at its crown and a scent that will pique your cat’s interest. Catmint, much like cat thyme and catnip, causes your cat to chew and roll in the plant leaves. They can get a bit aggressive and playful before they relax for about an hour.
Although coming from the same family, catmint isn’t as interesting to cats as catnip.
However, it makes a better choice for your garden thanks to its ongoing bloom. It is best to provide this herb about 10-15 minutes before any foreseen stress. Catmint is also available at most nurseries.
Bach Rescue Remedy
The Bach Rescue Remedy is an essence derivative from five different flowers (Star of Bethlehem, Clematis, Rockrose, Cherry plum, and Impatiens) to help your troubled tabby or cranky calico. In most cases, only a few drops added to the feline’s water or food will do. However, the essence can also be applied topically to the cat’s paws.
This remedy also won’t leave your pet feeling drowsy or put them into a stupor for an hour. However, it is worth noting that there is some controversy over if the Rescue Remedy truly works, mostly due to the nature of the remedy’s peculiar creation. Regardless, the testimonies are numerous and steady for nearly a century, so it’s an option worth considering.
Kava Kava (Piper Methysticum)
Kava kava is a generations-old remedy for aches and pains in the Pacific islands. It’s an essential part of cultures in these areas. This vibrant green, broad-leafed plant is known to be a pain reducer and has a mild sedative effect on people.
Thus, when researchers and animal enthusiasts began to seek natural remedies for our four-legged friends, kava was seen as a hopeful source and didn’t let people down.
Kava has been used successfully to treat anxiety and mood disorders in dogs and cats. Kava kava comes in an oil extract that can be easily found online or over the counter in most holistic foods stores. Speak to your vet for more information and dosage recommendations.
Valerian Root (Valeriana Officinalis)
Valerian root is a centuries-old remedy for anxiety and insomnia. The active compound which affects your cat’s behavior similarly to nepetalactone is called terpenoid, which promotes restfulness in cats.
However, Valerian root has a similar preliminary effect on cats to that of catnip. Your cat may roll around and paw at the air while purring or gnaw on the plant and hiss at first, but will soon relax.
Valerian flowers can be found in nurseries, though it may be easier to buy an extract from a holistic store or online. Tea shops also sell dried valerian root as the plant has many health benefits for humans as well.
Many items work just as effectively using your cat’s keen sense of smell. A cat’s sense of smell is about 100 times stronger than your own. Thus, a wealth of products has arisen to entice a cat’s nose, including calming collars.
A calming collar, such as ones made by Sentry, still has all the benefits of the above natural sedatives without the added labor and preparation.
Once the calming collar is straightened, the ingredients are activated. Place the collar around the cat’s neck, be sure that you can slip two fingers below the collar once it is in place. If you cannot slip two fingers underneath, the collar is too tight. The collars usually last about 30 days, which is plenty of time for your cat to adjust to changes in their routine and environment.
Products like Feliway calming wipes or a plug-in offer the same result. The only difference is that they don’t go around your pet’s neck, and their longevity varies greatly. Calming wipes are used on your pet’s bedding or carrier and last for about a day. A diffuser is plugged into the wall or has a battery-operated device that sprays out an aerosol. Diffusers can last about a month.
Cats need the proteins and essential vitamins found in meats. A cat’s body also needs fiber, but not as much as we might think. In the wild, when cats hunt, the plants they consume come from their prey, so feeding our cats excessive herbs can have adverse effects. Just to be on the safe side, be sure to speak to your vet about any of the treatments mentioned above.
It is also important to remember that your feline friend may enjoy many of the same foods as you, but herbs we may use to soothe our weary minds are not always healthy for your cat. Some people would suggest other remedies as chamomile and hops as treatments for anxiety and stress. However, both of these herbs are recognized as dangerous for your pet.
Chamomile, though not immediately fatal to cats, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and even anorexia. You will want to be wary of any soothing herbs that contain bisabolol, anthemic acid, and tannic acid.
Hops are extremely dangerous to dogs, but the effects seem to be a bit muted for cats. Regardless, the plant causes a reaction called malignant hyperthermia. Your pet’s internal temperature rises if they eat the plant’s cones, causing damage to their organs. It’s best to check with your veterinarian if you have any questions about a particular plant or substance.
There are many safe and healthy ways to help soothe and sedate your feline friend regardless of breed and age. Whether you’re preparing for a trip, a visit to the vet, or something else, many natural herbs have exceptional health benefits for your cat. Some products utilize your cat’s powerful sense of smell to help them relax as they adjust to a change.
For more drastic changes like moving or bringing home a new pet, natural calming collars offer an extended effect that lasts up to several weeks. That’s more than enough time for your kitty to get used to any significant changes in their surroundings.
As always, speak to your vet about any supplements you wish to add to your pet’s diet or how to best use products like calming collars.