It was a difficult winter for my beautiful Muffitt. She was so traumatized by something (I have no idea what), she hid for weeks. How could I help her? I thought long and hard about the best calming aids for cats.
Years ago, I decided that Rescue Remedy is the best calming aid for cats. But not all calming aids work for all cats, and often choosing the best one depends on the cat and the circumstances.
So when Muffitt was hiding in a closet and wouldn't let her cat family or me get anywhere near her, I asked the experts in the "sick cat" Facebook groups and did hours worth of research hoping to find something that I could give her without having to touch her.
In the end, I settled on two things to try since I couldn't get close enough to her to use my favorite Rescue Remedy.
Muffitt is back to her sweet, loving, gregarious self now. And I think she'd agree these are the best calming aids for cats.
Clicking on the product links will take you to Amazon.
Although I couldn't use it for Muffitt, Rescue Remedy remains my favorite calming aid for cats, and people, too. I use it often for stressed cats, and it has never let me or the cats down.
This homeopathic-like remedy takes the edge off a cat's anxiety. It causes no side effects and doesn't make the cat act or feel like she's drugged.
Although you might read that you should add a few drops to the cat's water, cats don't drink enough to get the full benefit of the remedy. I like to put a few drops on a fingertip and rub it into the fur on the cat's head between the ears. There's an acupressure point there.
Use it for trips to the vet, to help a new cat adjust to your home and to calm a scared cat when you're having company. You can also spray some in your cat's carrier when you're traveling together.
Rescue Remedy is one of the Bach Flower Remedies, and you could also use it for feuding cats. But there are other remedies formulated for this specific purpose, and one of those might work even better.
There are other flower remedies on the market, but I've always had the most success with Bach Flowers, and those are the ones most holistic vets use and recommend.
It was VetriScience Composure For Cats that finally helped Muffitt get over her trauma and return to her normal life. I gave her one of the treats three times a day for about a week.
The treats are large and hard, so I broke each one into a few pieces and gave them to her along with five or six Temptations treats.
Ingredients include Thiamine (Vitamin B1) 67 mg C3 (Colostrum Calming Complex) 11 mg L-Theanine (Suntheanine brand) 10.5 mg Inactive Ingredients: brewers yeast, calcium sulfate, canola oil, chicken liver flavor, citric acid, glycerin, maltodextrin, mixed tocopherols, propionic acid, rosemary extract, silicon dioxide, sodium alginate, soy lecithin and vegetable oil.
The treats cause no side effects and won't make your cat act or feel drugged. It can take 20-30 minutes for them to begin working.
They'd also help a recently adopted cat who's frightened in her new home and when you have house guests or are traveling with your cat.
Our Pets Matter Super Chews (Hemp)
I tried Our Pets Matter Super Chews first because I'd heard so much about the calming benefits hemp or CBD oil have for cats.
I gave Muffitt two chews a day, and while she was getting them she came out of the closet and rejoined family life. But after three days, she decided she doesn't like treats that taste like salmon, even if they're hidden in a pile of Temptations. When she stopped getting the chews, she retreated to her hiding place in the closet.
None of my cats like salmon in any form. But if yours do, these treats would ease the fear of vet visits, traveling and house guests. They could also help a new cat get used to your home.
Ingredients include full spectrum hemp, wild Alaskan salmon oil, hemp seed virgin oil, hemp seed meal, CoQ10, Cosequin and L-Tryptophan. Among the other ingredients are oat flour, brown rice flour, flaxseed meal, brewers yeast, blackstrap molasses, carrots, beats, apples, celery, lemons and cucumbers.
I'm not a big fan of Feliway, which mimics the "friendly" pheromones in a cat's cheeks. It never seems to work for calming cats or discouraging spraying.
But ThunderEase sounds promising, and it has great reviews on Amazon. It mimics the nursing mother cat pheromones that help kittens bond and get along with each other.
Maybe Prozac should go in the When All Else Fails category. However you want to categorize it, Prozac belongs on any list of the best calming aids for cats because it almost always works.
Use it for litter box issues, aggression and cats who don't get along. Don't expect instant results though. It can be several weeks before you begin to see changes in your cat's behavior.
Most cats on the correct dose of Prozac don't act or feel like they're drugged. Side effects can include lethargy, anorexia, nausea, hyperactivity, irritability and other behavior changes.
Don't let fear of giving your cat pills stop you from asking the vet for Prozac. It can be compounded into a flavored liquid or medicated treats. Wedgewood Pharmacy can also make it into Tiny Tabs, which are smaller than a Tic Tac and would be easy to hide in a bite of wet food or a soft moist treat.
If you hide any kind of medicine in food, don't use the food your cat eats all the time. Even a Tiny Tab can make it smell and taste so different, she'll refuse to eat it. And that bite of food that's hiding the medicine should seem like a really special treat that she'll look forward to every day.
Other Calming Aids For Cats
Sometimes the best calming aids for cats are not supplements, but activities. Muffitt is an indoor/outdoor cat, and beginning to venture outside again did as much to boost her spirits and self confidence as the calming treats I gave her.
Your cat doesn't have to be a free-roaming indoor/outdoor cat to reap the benefits of being outside. Take her out on a harness and leash or give her some supervised outdoor time on the deck or in the yard with you.
Running up and down a floor-to-ceiling cat tree is a great stress reliever for indoor cats, too. And playing with a really interesting robotic toy or a wand or fishing pole toy will make indoor life more interesting, burn up energy and relieve boredom and stress.
As I'm typing, Muffitt is outside with her friend, Ginger, and the other neighborhood cats. I wish I knew what happened that frightened her so much. But we have some Composure treats left in case we need them again. I hope we don't!