I have a long-term interest in holistic therapies and am nearing completion of my Complementary Therapy HNC. Many alternative therapies can be adapted for cats but please be aware that essential oils are very potent and some can be dangerous, even in humans. Cats cannot metabolise essential oils which means they can build up to toxic levels, particularly if ingested or absorbed through the paws or ears. What can be of great use though, are hydrosols, which is the steam by product of the extraction process. Hydrosols or hydrolats are thought to be safe and have many uses ranging from calming agents to antiseptics and have anti-inflammatory properties.
Hydrosols can be mixed and are safe in combination. They can be kept in the fridge or preserved with a drop of Vodka and like essential oils should be kept away from the light. If a hydrosol has ‘bloomed’ it contains bacterial growth and should be discarded. Be wary of buying floral waters with added essential oil or synthetic fragrance, as therapeutically, these are not as effective as hydrosols.
Some of the following may be useful and can be used in conjunction with conventional veterinary medicine.
Chamomile (Roman) Anthemis nobilis: for ear cleaning, soothing and healing skin irritations.
Geranium/Rose Geranium, Pelargonium x asperum: tick repelling, deodorizing/perfuming and for calming skin irritations.
Lavender, Lavandula angustifolia: Calming remedy useful for burns, skin irritations, ear cleaning, flea and tick repellent.
Lemon Verbena, Lippia citriadora: flea repellent, ear cleaning, skin freshener.
Orange Blossom/Orange Flower/Neroli, Citrus aurantium: calming, deodorizing/perfuming, and skin irritaions
Rose, Rosa damascena: The most gentle of all, useful for very sensitive skins.
Witch Hazel, Hamamelis virginiana: Powerful anti-inflammatory.
NB Oils containing ketones should be avoided. Particularly dangerous is Caraway, Cedar Leaf, Clove, Cyprus, Ginger, Hyssop and Sage. Those containing phenols are particularly dangerous to the liver and include Bay leaf, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus, Oregano, Parsley and Thyme.Massage can be of great benefit to cats and can alert you to something being amiss, for example weight loss, skin condition, or if the skin loses elasticity it can mean dehydration. Heat can be an indicator of infection and tenderness in the abdomen can mean constipation. Swollen glands can be quickly identified and appropriate treatment sought. As with humans, massage must not be carried out in areas recovering from surgery and only areas where the cat feels comfortable should be massaged. I find that some cats are very receptive to Reiki and this can even be done without touching.