Cats can be stressed and neurotic at times. It could be due to the new kitten you brought home or a visit to the vet. Whatever it is, it’s important to ease your cat’s suffering through calming herbs and products. So what can I give my cat to calm her down? There are a lot of options to explore, which I will discuss in this post.
Why do cats get stressed?
While most cats may appear at peace and gentle, kitties can still be on edge at times. A lot of factors and stimuli can trigger stress among felines. It’s essential to be in tune with your cat’s personality and behavior to know if it’s under stress.
The following are some of the common causes of stress in cats:
- New pet at home
- Absence of a family member
- Sudden changes in routine
- A new person or smell
- Vet visits
Due to their heightened senses, cats can get overstimulated pretty easily. Overstimulation occurs when a cat gets exposed to a specific trigger over and over again. In just a matter of time, the cat will reach a tipping point to which it will become stressed, nervous, and aggressive.
Take note that cats exhibit stress in different ways. Some will vocalize, have accidents all over the house, or experience gastrointestinal upset.
On the other hand, some cats will become aggressive and hiss even toward their owners. This is due to the fight or flight response of kitties. Some stressed cats prefer to hide and cower, while others will give a fight and become defensive.
Lastly, some cats will lick themselves too much to the point that they develop bald spots. This is an alarming situation, and you should seek the help of a veterinarian right away.
You should never punish your cat for being aggressive. You have to understand that the kitty is under so much stress. What the cat needs is understanding, care, and calming solutions to help them get past their nervous streak.
Is your cat stressed? In this video, Our Pets Health help us spot signs of stress and what we can do about it:
What can I give my cat to calm her down?
A nervous and stressed cat will not calm down if they are repeatedly exposed to the trigger. Also, raising your voice and punishing the cat will not do any good either. What you need to do is explore these calming options to help your cat simmer down.
Catnip is probably the safest and most convenient option to calm down a cat. This herb is a staple to every pet owner because it acts as a natural sedative for cats. It gives the ‘high’ feeling to the kitty without harming the kitty.
However, you should know that not all cats have a sensitivity to catnip. In fact, only half of the domesticated feline population responds to this herb. Aside from that, catnip sensitivity only occurs when the cat is around three to six months old.
This is a genetic thing. Some cats lack the so-called ‘catnip gene’, which allows them to perceive the sedating effect of catnip.
You can give catnip as-is, or you can stuff it in your kitty’s playthings. With this, you can calm your cat while distracting it from the nervous thoughts.
Take note that catnip loses its efficacy over time. You should store it in an airtight container inside the freezer to retain its effect.
If your cat is one of those that don’t react to catnip very much, chamomile is an excellent alternative. This is a known calming herb for humans and can be given to cats in small doses.
Just make sure that your cat doesn’t chew or eat the plant. While it has healing properties, concentrated amounts of chamomile can cause stomach irritation.
The best way to give chamomile to a cat is by brewing it into tea. Boil a few teaspoons of dried chamomile in distilled water. Let this simmer and cool down before giving half a teaspoon to your cat.
Aside from giving it orally to calm down your cat, you can also use chamomile tea as a natural ear cleaner. You mix it with a little vinegar to remove gunk and ear wax from your pet’s ears.
If your cat has a history of sensitivity, I suggest that you call the vet first.
3. Valerian Root
Another natural herb that you can use to calm your cat is Valerian Root. The Valerian Root is known to fight anxiety among humans and can be useful for cats as well. Experts believe that the Valerian Root can increase the Gamma-aminobutyric acid level or GABA in the brain.
However, take note that Valerian Root is a stimulant for cats. It can help reduce stress among nervous kitties, the same way that catnip does. In fact, some cats that don’t react to catnip might display a reaction to Valerian Root.
Still, I suggest asking the vet about this herb before giving it to your cat. Some cats tend to be aggressive under the influence of Valerian Root. The key here is observing your cat and knowing which works for it well.
Hops also work in helping a cat calm down. It’s widely used for lager, so it’s quite a surprise that suits cats, let alone safe for felines.
Still, your cat isn’t supposed to chug a beer straight from the fridge. What you need are dried hops flowers. Your cat can nibble and play with it like what it does with catnip. The compounds on hops will help ease the cat’s nervousness while letting it enjoy. Aside from the calming effect, hops is also good for the cat’s liver.
However, you should be careful in giving hops to cats as too much can cause toxicity. It’s always important to talk to the vet to ensure that this solution will work without the adverse side effects.
5. Calming spray
If you don’t want to keep guessing what works for your cat, you can easily purchase a calming spray from a pet store. This is formulated to mimic soothing scents that cats find comforting. Usually, it doesn’t have any strong odor for humans, so it’s non-invasive and guaranteed safe to use around the house.
The most popular calming spray brand for cats is Feliway. It’s vet-recommended and has been proven to curb the stress levels of cats. You can see changes in your cat’s behavior in just seven days or earlier.
This calming spray acts as a pheromone to stop your cat from marking incessantly. This mimics the facial pheromone that cats use to mark their territory. With this, your kitty won’t feel threatened or stressed. It also helps cats relax during a sudden change in the household or when there’s loud noise outside.
What I like the most about Feliway is its drug-free formula, so it’s safe for kitties with sensitivities.
6. Calming treats
Aside from calming sprays, you can also switch to calming treats. These are yummy cat treats infused with calming ingredients to soothe a nervous kitty. The best part about this treat is that it’s also rich in vitamins and minerals. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone when it comes to your cat’s nourishment.
I personally recommend the Pet Naturals of Vermont Calming Chews. It has real chicken liver, so it’s very palatable, even for a picky cat. Unlike other treats that use sedatives, the one from Pet Naturals has L-Theanine, which is a natural anxiety-buster. It’s the same compound that makes green tea a relaxing drink.
Each bottle of the Pet Naturals treats has 160 chews. You should only give one chew per day on your cat.
7. Calming collar
Another effective way to calm a nervous cat is by putting a calming collar on it. Unlike typical collars, this one is infused with a pheromone that mimics the one that cats use for marking their territory. This is a medication-free way of easing your cat’s nervousness.
Take note that you should never use calming collars made for dogs. This has a different pheromone, which will only stress your cat even more.
If you’re looking for an effective calming collar, I highly suggest the Comfort Zone Calming Collar. It’s made for every nervous cat that can’t stop scratching, marking, or being destructive when stressed.
This collar is flexible and can be adjusted to your cat’s neck girth. Although white dust might be present, it’s normal and not a cause of concern. Just make sure that you replace the collar every 30 days for the best calming effects.
Also, if your cat suffers irritation after you put the collar on, remove it right away and consult the vet.
If all of the options above did not work, the best option for your cat is a sedative. The vet can prescribe a specific sedative drug that suits your cat’s needs. Take note that such sedative drugs must be prescribed accordingly by a licensed vet. This is to guarantee that the drug will not have serious side effects on your stressed cat.
The following are some of the sedatives that veterinarians prescribe or use for cats under different circumstances:
Not all of these sedatives work for all cats. Only the vet can determine which of these sedatives are suitable for your cat. In some cases, the vet will need to perform general checks and bloodwork to know if a certain sedative is safe for your kitty.
How to prevent stress in cats
A lot of things cause a cat’s stress. If your pet seems to be nervous and on edge, there are things you can do to reduce its discomfort. The following are some of them:
✔️Don’t rush changes
If you’re moving to a new home or having sudden changes in the household, it’s best to condition your cat even before the big day. If you’re moving, try to expose your cat more outdoors. You can also bring the kitty into the new house several times before the big move.
As much as possible, perform big changes slowly. This way, your kitty won’t get overwhelmed and stressed in the process. Sure, sudden changes are stressful for us, but our cats will also have it rough.
✔️Introduce new pets slowly
Are you welcoming a new pet at home? If so, you should introduce it to your cat slowly. Never place the new kitten or pup in front of your resident feline right away. It’s best to isolate the newcomer and slowly introduce its scent to your older cat. From there, your cat will recognize and welcome the presence of another animal in the house.
Be patient and don’t rush things. Forcing your cat to welcome a new pet may only lead to anxiety and chronic stress.
✔️Training is necessary
Cats also need the training to become well-rounded pets. While they are not as smart as dogs, training, and setting the limits will help a lot. This will also prevent your cat from getting confused and being stressed eventually.
During training, stay patient, and never punish your cat if errors occur.
Most nervous cats are too sheltered and have never been exposed to different stimuli. To prevent this, you should introduce your cat to other pets and people. This will help your cat adjust to various situations in the future and prevent possible stress.
✔️Make a peaceful spot for your cat
Lastly, make a secure and safe spot where your cat can retreat when it feels frightened or stressed. This way, your pet will know that there’s a safe haven in your home. Make this spot as cozy as possible. It should be somewhere with the least foot traffic and noise.
What can I give my cat to calm her down? You can try some natural herbs and products to see which works for your kitty best. No matter what your choice is, you should always consult with the vet to limit possible side effects.
Do you have a stressed cat? Let us know below!