Fireworks, your fearful cat and healing herbs

One increasingly popular approach to helping reduce your cats’s anxiety and fireworks fear is the use of calming scents in their environment.  

Usually done by using plug-in products that contain either synthetic pheromones, or a pre-blended mix of calming essential oils. These products can be very helpful, but what if they’re not having the effect you’d hoped for? 

Enable your cat to choose its own natural remedies

A more personalised approach could be the answer.  Herbal extracts can be hugely effective, but there are many different options - how can you be sure you’re using the right ones for YOUR cat.

That’s easy:  ask your cat!  How? By offering it different plant extracts, and allowing it to choose for itself.   It does this using its innate knowledge of medicinal plants - a behaviour known as “zoopharmacognosy” (note: different to aromatherapy!). 

There are several herbal and floral extracts that are regularly chosen by cats with anxiety and fear, however, individual animals will select different extracts when given the CHOICE - and this choice makes ALL the difference.

Make a Calming Herb Garden for Your Stressed Cat

This is very easy to do, and really helpful for your cat.  Create a “herb-garden” in a quiet room, with a soft fleece blanket and selection of calming dried herbs such as Valerian Root, Catnip, Rosebuds, Chamomile Flowers and Calendula petals.   Leave space between each herb so your cat can choose which it wishes to interact with.

If possible, leave this blanket out during the entire fireworks season, refreshing the dried herbs weekly.  Your cat will be hiding when really scared, but during quieter times will be in need of deep, restful and healing sleep, this will provide the perfect place to stretch out or curl up!

Offering Aromatic Herbal Waters to Calm your Cat

The therapeutic scents of extracts such as rose, cornflower, frankincense and valerian can be be offered to your cat to inhale or lick, and are safe to stroke onto your cat, providing:

  • it has shown interest in smelling it initially
  • it accepts your slowly extended hand that you’ve dampened with a few drops - if it moves away from your hand - even slightly - that is a clear “no, not ON me, thank you).    Always, always respect its wishes.

Cats, Essential Oils and Safety

It’s very important to know how to use essential oils safely with a cat.  Cats lack a particular enzyme that breaks down chemicals within essential oils.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make these extremely helpful herbal aromatics available to them.  It’s just a matter (as with all medicinals) of safe and appropriate use.

Never apply essential oils topically to a cat, or let their noses touch the opened bottles when you offer them. 

A small soft toy or old pair of socks with a couple of drops of your cat’s chosen essential oil can be left close to whatever “safe place” it hides in during fireworks;  it can inhale as much or little as it needs, then distance itself and then curl up in its hiding place.

This is quite different to plug-ins, where there is no personalisation of either the extracts being used, or how much is needed.  

Essential Oils Often Selected By Fearful Cats Include:

Cats usually choose 2-4 of the following botanical extracts:

(a) Anxiety:  Spikenard / Valerian / Hemp / Hops / Vetiver
(b) Fear inc Noises:  Violet Leaf / Frankincense / Sandalwood / Rose
(c) Soothing: Roman Chamomile / Jasmine / Vanilla / Elemi

Professional Help for Your Scared Cat

Booking a session for your cat with a professionally-qualified Zoopharmacognosy practitioner gives you a detailed understanding of the process and gives your animal access to the widest choice of extracts so you can learn what really works for your cat in this situation.

Alternatively, you can buy a mini-kit for cats and the fireworks season, here.

(please note, I am not paid to endorse this site, but I can personally attest to product quality and I think the targeted fireworks mini-kit is a genius idea for owners).

Wishing you and your cat calm and peaceful evenings.