Calm Your Scaredy Cat
Are you looking for a safe and natural way to help your cat through stressful times? Does your kitty run and hide when people he doesn’t know come by the house for a visit? Does your cat spray urine outside the litter box sometimes? Do you have several cats in your family and they just don’t get along the way you want them to? Do you have a kitty with some health problems, and you must take her to the vet’s office, but she doesn’t like the car ride or the visit? Does your cat cry at night and keep you from getting a good night’s sleep? Do you have a new baby in the house or are expecting one soon and are looking for a solution to help reduce the kitty’s stress to the new arrival?
What if I were to tell you that there is a very safe and natural product available, that is not a drug or a sedative, and can help you and your kitty through all these situations and more. Too good to believe, right? Well, there is a natural solution that will help in these cases that was developed and tested with the help Dr Simona Cannas, DVM, PhD in Germany. Dr Cannas is a European Veterinary Specialist in the Behavioural Medicine of Companion Animals and is a Member of European College of Animal Welfare and Behavioural Medicine. Pretty impressive! The product is called Felisept and is manufactured in Germany and exported to the United States by Vitakraft.
Dr Cannas and colleagues did something unusual, they worked with the plant we know as catnip (Nepeta cataria), a member of the mint family of plants, and extracted a naturally occurring compound from the plant, L – nepetalactone, which is a natural, mild central nervous system calming aid that attracts and soothes cats. This is pretty amazing and seemingly backwards as we know that most cats don’t calm down but get a bit crazy when they are around catnip. They usually rub on the plant, roll on the ground, paw at it, lick it, vocalize, salivate and chew it. This usually goes on for between 5 and 15 minutes. In fact, it doesn’t just affect our domesticated cats. Did you know that leopards, cougars, servals, and lynxes often reacted strongly to catnip, similar to our own domestic cats? Also, lions and tigers (not bears) can react strongly, but don’t react as consistently. Another interesting note is that the behavior is hereditary and about one-third of cats are not affected by catnip. In addition, catnip does not affect kittens until they are about six months old and begin to reach sexual maturity. One of the best things about catnip is that it is nonaddictive and completely harmless to cats.
So why does this natural extract not make cats a bit wild for a few minutes then stop? It all depends on how the L – nepetalactone is delivered. It has long been known that indigenous people once used catnip for their babies with infant colic. It has also been used as a mild sedative in herbal teas and some herbalists use catnip to help lessen migraine headaches and help with insomnia, nervousness and anorexia. This special form of L – nepetalactone works because it binds to receptors in the cat’s nasal passage (vomeronasal organ), which through a series of neuronal pathways, provides stimulus to sensory neurons as if it was eaten. The sensory neurons signal more neurons in the olfactory bulb which affects the amygdala, two neuronal clusters in the midbrain that mediate emotional responses to stimuli and a region in the brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is the emotional behavior center of the brain which controls everything from hunger to emotions. Once activated by L – nepetalactone, cats begin to show signs of calmness and their anxious behaviors gently subside.
Did you know that any number of emotional or environmental stressful situations can lead to anxiety and eventually illness in cats? Vet clinic visits, guests in the home, multi-cat households, abrupt changes in daily routine or even a change in the weather can cause your kitty to show signs of stress like scratching, urinating or defecating outside the litter box, constant meowing, and hiding. So, how does stress affect your cat? Stress actually suppresses the immune response and may increase the risk that a cat will develop Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD). FLUTD describes a variety of conditions that affect the bladder and urethra of cats. Cats with FLUTD most often show signs of difficulty and pain when urinating, increased frequency of urination, and blood in the urine. Cats with FLUTD also tend to lick themselves excessively and may urinate outside the litter box, often on cool, smooth surfaces like a tile floor or a bathtub. Another problem that affects cats and is exacerbated by stress is Feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC), also called interstitial cystitis. It is the most common diagnosis in cats less than 10 years of age with lower urinary tract disease.
In studies performed in Europe, Felisept was shown to help reduce night time vocalizations in cats and help cats sleep through the night better. Felisept reduced nervousness, stress associated with kennels and car travel, aggressive and hiding behaviors in cats at home and helped cats need less restraint during veterinary visits.
A close friend of mine who is a veterinarian started using Felisept in her office back in April of 2018 for her cat patients. They use Felisept in several ways. Her staff sprays Felisept on the towels used for cats to comfortably sit on the exam table, towels used inside the kennels and towels for wrapping up the kitty to help hold them to take blood samples. They also use the room diffuser in the cat exam rooms and spray the inside of the kitty kennels. Felisept has been so effective in reducing stress and anxiety that the cat owners have noticed a big difference and are asking to purchase Felisept to help reduce their cats’ stress during the car rides to the vet’s office.
There are other man-made, chemical pheromone products on the market that are advertised to help with cat behavioral problems. The most common product is an artificial feline facial pheromone that mimics a cat’s F3 facial pheromones, which cats deposit when they rub their cheeks against surfaces, marking the areas as being safe. This artificial pheromone is relatively specific and may reduce scratching and some types of spraying. In various studies, it reduced spraying on vertical surfaces, such as walls or doors, in up to 90% of cases. But it did not address the underlying problems that cause spraying on horizontal surfaces, such as beds or couches, so it is not very effective in those situations. Because the natural Felisept product is more of a general central nervous system calming agent, it is more effective in all stressful situations.
We know that Felisept is a completely natural product that works in a wide variety of different situations to gently reduce all types of stress in cats and is completely safe and harmless. So, how should you use it at home? Felisept offers a total in home comfort solution, the Felisept Home Comfort Diffuser, that is very easy to use. Much like a Glade® scented plug-in, all you have to do is plug-in the Felisept Home Comfort Diffuser and walk away. The diffuser works in approximately a 500 square foot radius. You will see your cat exhibit changes in behavior in as little as 2 days! The diffuser is recommended as a long-term, calming solution! It’s recommended to change the refill every 30 days or when it runs out for best results! You can also use the Felisept spray, in conjunction with the diffuser, like my veterinarian friend does on your cat’s bedding, cuddle towels and plush toys. Also, don’t forget to use it inside your cat’s travel kennel before you take your cat on the next great adventure…. or going to the vet.