Rather than only heading to the vet in response to a physical ailment, holistic cat care takes a more overarching approach to health. And obviously, if there was something you could do to help your cat at home, or stop them from becoming ill in the first place, you’d do it. It’s just about knowing how!
Fortunately, there are plenty of natural ways you can support your cat’s well-being, alongside your regular vet visits. With this in mind, I’ve put together a bunch of ideas for things you can do to heal their mind, body and spirit!
You are What You Eat - Nutrition for Health
Despite all your efforts in keeping them healthy, your poor puss isn’t feeling great, for any number of reasons. Old age, in particular, can mean your cat needs medical care, for skin, joints, organs, you name it!
Cats, despite being picky eaters, can develop a whole range of stomach issues. Signs that something’s up can include a gurgling tummy, foul breath, vomiting, constipation and diarrhea. Often these issues will clear themselves up in a few days, but you can help give your cat’s insides a fighting chance. For this, probiotics are useful. They support the growth of good bacteria, and promote a healthy balance in the gut. Also useful if your cat has been prescribed antibiotics which will kill off the good AND bad bacteria.
While your vet will be needed to diagnose allergies and skin conditions, a gel or cream can help to soothe the irritation. Even more simply, spraying a strongly brewed chamomile tea onto an irritated area can help calm the skin, just like it calms our nerves. If you can get your cat into a bath, then oatmeal works well (and is non-toxic if they lap at the water). And a hot towel cuddle can help settle the itch of dandruff. Take note that cats don’t need lots of bathing, as they do it themselves through their grooming habits. Bathing can actually irritate their skin more, so take care here. Oh, and plastic or rubber food bowls can be another cause of flair-ups, causing blackhead-like pustules under the chin, so opt for glass or ceramic alternatives where possible.
Arthritis is one of the most common afflictions in older cats, and can make their day-to-day life a struggle. The first ‘remedy’ is to ensure they are maintaining a healthy weight, and their diet is high-quality. Check the ingredients of their wet or dry food - if the first listed ingredient is meat-based, you’re good. If it’s wheat or grain (filler), then consider upgrading. Even better — if you’re open to transitioning your kitty to a raw diet, it’d help immensely! A hot-pack can help with pain, or there are pain killing remedies available too that can actively soothe the aches. For mild forms of arthritis, increasing the intake of Vitamin C and E can ease the joint movement. Turmeric acts as an anti inflammatory agent, while packing the double punch of also boosting liver function. Two natural helpers, that don’t sound so natural but are, are glucosamine and chondroitin, so look for those two magic words when seeking assistance.
Kidneys, liver and lungs are three key ‘cleaners’ and work with the immune system by filtering out nasties. Lots of fresh water is the best thing you can give a pair of hard-working kidneys, while you can support liver function with milk thistle. And they all benefit from a good quality supplement with antioxidants.
Multi-vitamins are another course to take, either before or after an illness. These come in powder or chew form and can be added to food to ensure your cat is getting all it needs to stay fighting fit.
Mind-Altering Substances - Herbs for Well-Being
A sense of well-being and contentment can be promoted with these harmless but helpful herbs. Just keep the herbal items inside a toy or tube to prevent over-ingestion.
Catnip produces a short-lived, mild euphoric high for up to 80% of cats. You can find it in spray or dried form. Of course, you could grow your own and let kitty bliss out in the window-box!
Chamomile has a calming effect on skin, but also on mood. For this effect, use the dried herbs to help in stressful situations.
Again, use the herbal form. This is a great natural relaxant and promotes sleep. After an initial mad-cap dash about the house in a frenzied excitement, that is! Valerian may be a good idea about 20 minutes before leaving for a vet visit.
Taking Care - First Do No Harm
A friendly word of caution: these ideas are to be used in conjunction with routine vet visits (annually for adult cats, more frequently for kittens and seniors), and not as a replacement. You’ll want to consult with your veterinarian before changing or adding to your cat’s diet, as there may be underlying factors in age, size, and condition that need to be taken into account. The same goes for using natural remedies for illness.
More is not always better when it comes to vitamins and minerals, and an imbalance caused by a well-meaning booster can be unintentionally harmful. Most vets now incorporate a holistic approach into their practice, so they’re best placed to advise you on the pros and cons of any planned course of action. They can also help you come up with a care plan that all three of you (vet, pet, and owner) are comfortable with.
Remember, the path to holistic health for your kitty is a balance of nature's remedies and professional care. Embrace this journey with love and a never-ending thirst for knowledge of natural ways and ideas to support the well-being of your kitty.