As cat owners, we want to ensure that our feline friends are healthy and happy. While we might rely on medication and veterinary care to treat health issues in cats, there are also natural remedies that can help support our cats' well-being. One such natural remedy is herbs.
In this article, we will discuss the best herbs for cats that are safe to use, as well as their various uses.
Herbs Safe for Cats
Before delving into specific herbs, it is essential to note that not all herbs are safe for cats. Some herbs can be toxic and even fatal to felines. It is crucial to research any herb before giving it to your cat, and always consult with your veterinarian before giving your cat any new supplements or remedies.
What Herbs Are Safe for Cats?
Here is a list of some of the most common herbs that are considered to be generally safe for cats:
- Catnip: This herb is perhaps the most popular among cat owners, and for a good reason. Catnip is a natural stimulant that can help calm cats, relieve anxiety, and reduce stress. (1)
- Dandelion: Dandelion is a mild diuretic that can help cats with kidney problems. It can also aid in digestion and detoxification.
- Echinacea: Echinacea is a popular herb for immune system support in humans, and it can also be beneficial for cats. It can help improve the immune system and reduce the severity and duration of infections.
- Licorice: Licorice is an anti-inflammatory herb that can help with respiratory problems and digestive issues.
- Milk Thistle: Milk Thistle is an herb that is beneficial for liver health. It can help detoxify the liver and protect against liver damage.
- Peppermint: Peppermint is a natural insect repellent and can also aid in digestion and reduce nausea in cats.
- Valerian: Valerian is an herb that can help cats with anxiety and insomnia. It is a natural sedative that can help calm cats during stressful situations.
Calming Herbs for Cats
Cats are often prone to stress and anxiety, which can lead to behavior problems and health issues. Some herbs have compounds that can reduce anxiety in cats and help your cats during stressful times, such as when moving or taking your cat to the vet.
The following herbs can help calm and relax cats:
- Catnip: As mentioned earlier, catnip is a natural stimulant that can help calm cats.
- Chamomile: Chamomile is a soothing herb that can help cats with anxiety and stomach upset.
- Lavender: Lavender is an herb that can help cats with anxiety and stress. It has a calming effect and can help cats relax.
- Valerian: Valerian is a natural sedative that can help cats with anxiety and insomnia.
Herbs for Cats' Immune System
Supporting your cat's immune system can help to protect them from pathogens and infections. The following herbs may help boost the immune system of cats:
- Echinacea: Echinacea can help improve the immune system and reduce the severity and duration of infections.
- Licorice: Licorice is an anti-inflammatory herb that can help support the immune system by reducing inflammation and protecting against infections.
- Milk Thistle: Milk Thistle is an herb that can help protect the liver and support the immune system.
- Wheatgrass: Wheatgrass is a type of grass that is rich in nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. In small amounts, it can provide additional nutrients and help aid in digestion.
Medicinal Herbs for Cats
There are several medicinal herbs that can benefit cats in various ways. Some of the most common herbs that are used medicinally for cats include:
- Calendula: Calendula is an herb that can help heal wounds and soothe skin irritation.
- Marshmallow: Marshmallow is an herb that can help soothe digestive issues and reduce inflammation in the body.
- St. John's Wort: St. John's Wort is an herb that can help cats with anxiety and depression. It can also aid in wound healing.
Antiparasitic Herbs for Cats
Parasites are a common problem among cats, and they can cause a range of health issues if left untreated. While there are many conventional medications available to treat parasites in cats, some pet owners prefer to use natural remedies instead. Antiparasitic herbs can be a safe and effective way to help control parasites in cats.
Here are some of the most effective antiparasitic herbs for cats:
- Wormwood: Wormwood is an herb that has been used for centuries to help control parasites. It contains compounds that can help kill and expel parasites from the body. Wormwood can be given to cats in small amounts as a tea or tincture. (2)
- Black Walnut: Black Walnut is an herb that can help control intestinal parasites. It contains compounds that can help kill and expel parasites from the body. Black walnut can be given to cats in small amounts as a tea or tincture.
- Neem: Neem is an herb that can help control fleas, ticks, and other parasites. It contains compounds that can help repel parasites and prevent them from infesting your cat. Neem can be applied topically to your cat's fur or given orally as a tea or tincture.
Antiparasitic herbs can be a natural and safe way to help control parasites in cats. Many conventional medications for parasites can have unwanted side effects and may be toxic if not administered properly. Antiparasitic herbs, on the other hand, are generally safe and can be given to cats in small amounts without causing harm.
Using antiparasitic herbs can also help reduce your cat's exposure to harsh chemicals and pesticides. Many commercial flea and tick treatments contain chemicals that can be harmful to both cats and humans. By using natural remedies like antiparasitic herbs, you can help reduce your cat's exposure to these harmful chemicals.
While antiparasitic herbs can be a safe and effective way to help control parasites in cats, it is important to do your research and consult with your veterinarian before using any new remedies on your cat. With proper use, antiparasitic herbs can be a valuable addition to your cat's health care regimen.
To learn more, read our article "Parasites in Cats: Signs, Symptoms & Treatment."
What Herbs Are Bad for Cats?
While some herbs may be beneficial for cats, it is important to understand that some herbs are toxic and even fatal to cats. The most toxic herbs for cats include:
- Garlic: Garlic can cause anemia in cats. It is especially toxic in large doses.
- Onions: Onions can also cause anemia in cats, and like garlic, is especially harmful in larger doses.
- Pennyroyal: Pennyroyal is an herb that can cause liver damage and even death in cats.
- Yarrow: Yarrow is an herb that can cause skin irritation and vomiting in cats.
- Aloe: When ingested, aloe can cause vomiting, lethargy, and diarrhea in cats.
- Azaleas: These flowers can cause symptoms from vomiting to cardiac failure and are very toxic to cats. Rhododendron, a close relative, is also very toxic to cats.
- Lilies: Lilies are are known to be particularly toxic to cats and can cause kidney failure. Furthermore, cats don’t even have to eat these to be effected as even the pollen can be deadly to cats.
Additional herbs toxic to cats include:
- Sago Palm
- Mistletoe (3)
There are many other herbs that can potentially be toxic to cats. There have not been enough studies on herbs for cats to identify all that is beneficial or harmful. When considering giving your cat any herbal remedy, it is best to consult with your veterinarian first.
That being said, among the herbs used for cats, those that are known to be the best non-toxic herbs for cats include:
- Milk Thistle
These herbs have been used for cats safely by many pet owners for years.
Herbs can be a natural and safe way to support your cat's health and well-being. However, it is crucial to research any herb before giving it to your cat, and always consult with your veterinarian before giving your cat any new supplements or remedies. With proper use, herbs can be a valuable addition to your cat's health care regimen.