Just like us, cats can be prone to stress, with new environments, unusual noises and meeting new people or pets all common causes for feline anxiety.
It’s important to know the warning signs of an anxious kitty, but are essential oils safe for cats?
There is significant evidence to suggest that comforting scents can help to soothe and calm internal systems, and can have a positive impact on both the physical and mental body.
As humans, we often use essential oils to relax and unwind.
In fact, there’s a huge variety of scents with effective calming properties which can add a little extra zen into your daily routine.
However, essential oils are toxic to cats and are best avoided to maintain the best levels of safety for your fur-baby.
But fear not, anxious cat owners! Fluffy Kitty is here to help you find the best solutions for your frightful feline, offering alternative ideas to help create a calmer home for both cat and human alike.
Here’s an idea of what we cover in this blog.
Are There Safe Essential Oils for Cats?
- Most essential oils are toxic for cats, but luckily there are alternatives.
- Some of the main causes of stress and anxiety in cats include changes in their routine, environment, or perceived threats.
- Scents can affect wellbeing and we explore the science behind calming scents. They can help to calm your furry friend, leaving them feeling happy and safe, even in challenging situations or environments
- There are no totally safe essential oils for cats – so we explore the alternatives and how best to use scented products for cats for maximum relaxation results
Most Common Causes of Stress and Anxiety in Cats
Cats are excellent at relying on their instincts and senses to keep them safe.
And while this is often a beneficial trait, it can mean that our furry friends are more sensitive to changes in their environment and can lead to heightened levels of anxiety or stress.
Here are some of the main causes as to why your cat might be experiencing stress:
- Moving house
Probably one of the biggest upheavals your cat could experience, moving homes is always a big task and may require additional reassurance and longer adjustment periods for your kitty. Their environment is completely changing and it will take some time for them to feel comfortable in their new space again.
- A change in their routine
Cats quickly become used to the habits and routines of the household, for example knowing when they will be fed, when mom or dad are coming home, what the sound of a cupboard door opening means etc.
Disruptions to this routine can make cats feel unsafe or ill at ease and can be a root cause for certain anxious behaviors or acting out, such as spraying or scratching.
- Separation anxiety
Cats learn to trust and rely on their humans. We can make them feel safe and loved, and just as humans experience separation anxiety, cats can too. As much as we would like to, we can’t be there to cuddle or snuggle with our cats 24/7.
So when we have to leave the house, it can leave some cats feeling unsafe or abandoned. We have become a constant in their life and it can be unnerving to not have us there.
- The introduction of new animals or people
Whether you are introducing a new furry friend, a new partner or perhaps even the arrival of a baby, this can feel like a threat to your cat’s environment. It takes time for them to get used to new bodies and energies in the house, especially if they’re used to sensing and trusting just you.
- Threats to their territory
Outside cats or animals can sometimes pay a visit and encroach on your cat’s territory, making them feel that they need to protect their space. This can leave cats feeling shaken up or on edge, particularly if this becomes a regular occurrence.
- Improper or uncomfortable handling
As any cat owner will know, our kitties are very good at letting us know when they have had enough cuddles and kisses, making their boundaries very clear with an agitated tail swish or warning swipe.
If their boundaries are overstepped, this can frustrate or aggravate our cats. Making them feel trapped and causing them to act out.
Also if your cat has a bad experience of being handled – perhaps a stressful vet experience or a child who was a little too affectionate – this can make them wary of further contact with people and more prone to anxious behaviors.
- Trips and journeys
Ah car journeys, something any kitty parent will be aware has the potential to go… not so well! The unusual sensations, sights and smells of traveling can make heightened cat senses go haywire and be overstimulating for them, leaving them in a state of fear and overwhelm.
- Unfamiliar noises or sensations
Construction, traffic, fireworks – these are just a few of the sensory triggers that can negatively affect your cat.
Our kitties don’t necessarily understand what these noises are and these noises sound considerably louder to our cats than to our human ears. These unpleasant sensations can make your kitty particularly jumpy or uneasy.
How Do Scents Help to Regulate Stress and Anxiety?
The limbic system can be stimulated through our sense of smell.
(If you’re unaware, the limbic system helps to control the sense of smell, long-term memories, behaviors and emotions. It also assists in the regulation of blood-pressure, breathing and our heart-rate.)
By stimulating the limbic system through the use of comforting scents, this can have a positive impact on both the physical and the mental body.
As a result, that scents are often associated with specific experiences or memories. And animals specifically use their highly sensitive sense of smell as one of the main ways to navigate and experience the world.
So, it makes sense that there’ll be certain scents our fluffy kitties associate with certain experiences – the good and the bad – which can trigger different responses depending on the smell association.
Humans use treatments such as aromatherapy – which uses essential oils, aka. compounds which are extracted from plants – to soothe the senses and deepen feelings of calm and rest.
The oils are either applied directly to the skin or inhaled through a steam diffuser to create a pleasant sensory experience.
However, while essential oils can be extremely effective for us humans, there are not any safe essential oils for cats.
All oils have the potential to be harmful to your cat. So they’re best avoided, when it comes to finding effective ways of calming your kitty.
Luckily, there is a huge amount of cat-friendly products and alternative holistic options which are highly effective in treating feline stress and anxiety. Which brings us neatly onto…
Cat-Friendly Products to Relieve Stress and Anxiety
Here at Fluffy Kitty, cat safety and happiness is our top priority.
So we’ve compiled a list of cat-friendly options to help calm your kitty. Including products which have a reputation for achieving positive results in reducing feline anxiety.
We also want to stress the importance of consulting your vet before introducing your cat to new products or substances. This will help keep your fur-baby as safe as possible.
So, without further delay, let’s get to it!
Here are some of the best cat-friendly products and alternatives to helping reduce anxiety and stress behaviors in cats:
If there was an essential oil for cats – this would be it!
Animals and humans alike naturally emit pheromones as a form of deep-rooted animalistic communication. These colorless, odorless chemical signals vary from species to species and are completely natural and instinctual.
Tapping into this process can help with evoking positive feelings such as trust, safety and connection.
Cat pheromone plug-in diffusers and sprays have become increasingly popular due to their effectiveness and cat-safe nature.
- Catnip and other herbs
We’ve all heard of the superhuman hold that catnip can have over our kitties!
This feline-favorite member of the mint family mimics female sex hormones. It’s is known for evoking positive and calm feelings in cats – sometimes to the point of ecstasy!
We love catnip toys that combine all the benefits of catnip with the enrichment of batting around a toy.
This Cosmic Catnip toy is sure to be a winner with your kitty. Alternatively, you can buy a tub of Pet Craft Catnip and sprinkle it on a recyclable cat scratch pad. This’ll help to provide extra mindful stimulation.
Be aware that too much catnip can cause symptoms such as dizziness, vomiting and diarrhea. So it’s best to start with a little bit every now and then. If you’re concerned at all, discuss with your vet how to proceed.
Not every cat will respond to catnip. But there are other cat-safe herbs which can help to stimulate or calm your cat. Try the cat-nip-like valerian and calming chamomile as alternatives.
- Calming treats
It’s debated whether calming cat treats are 100% effective or not.
Some anecdotal evidence suggests that it does make a difference. Whilst others debate just how effective it actually is in reducing more severe cat anxiety.
Our take? Even if it doesn’t totally make your kitty stress-free, your cat will still be grateful to receive a tasty treat!
Another option is to take your kitty’s favorite wet food and smear it over a Lickimat slow feeder. Slower, enriched feeding experiences and the repetitive licking motion can help to reduce anxiety in our pets.
Safe Essential Oils for Cats – The Wrap-Up
There are a number of reasons why your cat may be experiencing stress or anxiety. It could be change in environment or routine, a threat to their territory, or other strange experiences.
All these have the potential to evoke stress behaviors in cats and make them act out of character.
But when it comes to finding solutions to help keep our kitties calm, be aware. All essential oils come with a risk to cats. Many essential oils are extremely toxic to cats and so are best avoided.
The good news is that there are many cat-safe alternatives to essential oils. This includes pheromone diffusers, which use naturally emitted chemicals to make cats feel safe and at ease. Not to forget catnip and other cat-friendly herbs, which can bring kitties joy, happiness and calm!
Every kitty is beautifully unique and will have different needs. It is important to get to know your cat’s triggers and warning signs. This will help you to identify anxious behaviors before they take a proper hold on your fur-baby.
At the end of the day, spending time with your cat & creating a safe, structured and loving environment is the number one way to keep your kitty comfy and calm.
We would love to know how you keep a calm home for your kitty. What are their favourite ways to unwind? Get in touch and let us know!