You may or may not believe in using herbal supplements to treat what’s ailing you. But have you ever thought about using them for your cat’s medical conditions?
They can often help where traditional medications have fallen short. And they can also be a terrific complement to traditional medicine.
Just as herbs are beneficial for treating conditions in people, they can help our pets too.
But always check with your vet before giving herbs to your cat. Some herbal supplements can be toxic if you give your cat too much. And they can be inadvisable if your pet is taking other meds.
And remember that a supplement can be good for one condition, but make others worse. Only your vet can tell you if your cat is a good candidate for herbal remedies.
Here are 7 herbs to consider for your feline.
1) Valerian Root
People use valerian root to help them sleep. In cats, it has the opposite effect. Valerian root will give your cat a boost of energy. This is helpful if you have an overweight, lazy cat you’d like to get moving.
Valerian root is a great alternative to catnip if your kitty isn’t a fan. Or you can use both on different occasions. It makes them feel euphoric and can reduce stress. Actinidine is the active ingredient in valerian root that produces the euphoric response.
You can sprinkle valerian root on their scratching post or toys. You can even find toys laced with it.
Dandelion root is a diuretic. It promotes liver detoxification and keeps the urinary tract healthy. The root of this pretty yellow flower is just good for digestion.
And how about a laxative? Does your cat need one? Dandelion root’s a natural remedy.
You may be wondering about the flower itself. Well, it can be a safe and gentle pain reliever.
If you have a cat, you know catnip is kitty crack. It’s an herb in the mint family. If a cat eats catnip, it acts like a sedative. But if your kitty sniffs it, this herb also known as Nepeta produces a “high” that lasts for about 10 minutes.
Nepetalactone is the compound in the leaves and stems that produces the response in your cat. The scent mimics that of feline pheromones. The “high” your cat feels from sniffing this herb may make them act hyper.
Cats inherit the sensitivity to Nepetalactone and only about half of all cats are actually sensitive to the herb.
Because the sensitivity takes time to develop, young kittens won’t react to catnip. Your cat must be several months old before they experience the “high”, if at all. And if your cat is exposed to it often, they may lose their sensitivity.
Goldenseal is a natural antibiotic. Make a goldenseal tea. Strain, cool, and make a compress for infected or irritated eyes.
You can also use goldenseal as a disinfectant on wounds. Turn the powdered root into a poultice and apply it to skin infections or ulcers.
Goldenseal has anti-inflammatory properties too.
Eyebright is an herbaceous flowering plant. It’s one you might never have heard of. But this is an herb that seems to be a panacea for upper respiratory infections. Eyebright helps nasal mucous, sneezing, and breathing difficulties, as well as eye rubbing. It also supports the immune system.
Eyebright is often made into a tea—1 to 2 teaspoons added to your cat’s food. Or use it as a wash for the nose or eyes.
You may choose to buy this one in supplement form to avoid having to harvest it from your garden. The little hairs that cover the nettle plant will sting your skin and cause blisters. Its other name is stinging nettle… for a reason.
But nettle packs a health punch!
A tea of nettle is helpful in treating seasonal allergies. There are histamine-like substances in nettle. These substances may slow the body’s own release of histamines… the cause of those allergic reactions.
Nettle is rich in vitamins and minerals including Vitamin C and iron. These nutritive properties make nettle an all-around great addition to your cat’s food.
It also reduces itchy skin from fleabites when used topically. And there’s evidence nettle may help with kidney function.
Veterinarians use parsley to support urinary tract health. It helps prevent kidney stones and is used to treat cystitis.
Parsley stimulates appetite in cats that are poor eaters. And it’s good for digestion, not to mention fresh breath!
Parsley has a lot of folic acid… very beneficial to heart health. And some claim parsley discourages tumor growth, particularly lung tumors.
In cats that have given birth, parsley is useful in promoting lactation and contracting the uterus. But never give parsley during pregnancy. It can cause contractions.
You can also rub parsley leaves on the skin to help with bruising and itching.
These are only a handful of herbs that are natural remedies for what’s ailing your kitty. There are many other herbs that can be helpful where traditional medicine hasn’t been. You can get lots of information on this topic from a holistic veterinarian.
And if you decide to grow any of these herbs in your garden, you’ll want to research the best and safest ways to use them. A holistic vet can help.
But if you decide to buy herbs in supplement form instead of growing them, buy from a reliable source. Reputable sellers should be more than happy to tell you how to use them effectively and safely.
Herbs are generally not harmful when used topically.
But as I said at the start, herbs taken orally can endanger your cat. Some herbs are poisonous. Some are only poisonous in high doses. Some are contraindicated with traditional medications. So always talk to your vet before starting your cat on any herbs or herbal supplements.
Do you give your cat herbs? How have they helped? Share your experience in the comment section at the top of the page.