‘Fraidy Cats, Relax!

A nervous cat can overtake a household with an emotionally dramatic vibe. Cats do not always respond to direct training efforts, and I have found that it is easier to change a cat’s environment than to change the cat. Here are a few helpful ways to help ‘fraidy cats relax.

Calming Treats

Pet Naturals of Vermont Calming Cat Treats

My picky kitty loves these treats even though they are a bit harder (somewhere between a soft treat and a piece of kibble) in texture. They work naturally to calm via L-theanine, colostrum, and thiamine. Do they work? Yes, but it’s a mild effect, and they definitely won’t sedate a highly anxious cat on the way to the vet. I mainly use the Pet Naturals treats when my cat has the night zoomies and we’re all trying to sleep!

Essential Oils

Please do not diffuse essential oils in a house with pets or use essential oils directly on your pet. Almost all essential oils are toxic to animals in the air, ingested, and on fur or skin. There are many ignorant people and businesses trying to push essential oils into the pet market.  

Calming Diffusers

Feliway Classic

This diffuser emits an odorless copy of calming and bonding pheromones that exist naturally on a cat’s face. Has your feline ever come up to you and “bunted” you by rubbing their cheeks on your face? Well, congratulations—you’ve just been marked by cat pheromones. Emitting these same pheromones into the air helps calm and stabilize your cat’s emotions. This is great not only for a fundamentally anxious cat but also new situations such as a new pet, new child, or a move into a new home.


Cats sleep much more than humans and prefer to catnap intermittently during the day. But too much sleep during the day leads to wild antics at night. I had one cat that liked to bring out his jingle ball toys and bounce them off the walls in a tiled bathroom (lots of fun echos!) around 3am every morning.

Over-the-counter melatonin is one of the easier ways to encourage sleeping in pets. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland when the body is attempting to sleep. Animal rescues now use melatonin to help anxious or jet-lagged rescue animals. However animal usage of melatonin is fairly new, and the right dosage is a matter of trial and error.

It would be difficult to fatally overdose on melatonin, however caution should always be exercised. Melatonin should not be used long-term because the body will stop making its own melatonin and cause a dependency on the supplements. Side effects of a melatonin overdose include: headaches, dizziness, upset stomach, diarrhea, joint pain, anxiety, crankiness, and inability to sleep without melatonin.

The only type of melatonin safe for pets is a basic tablet completely free of xylitol and other artificial sweeteners. Xylitol and similar sweeteners are toxic to many animals. Xylitol will be listed on the ingredients list, and it is generally present in chewable or dissolvable tablets.

Dosage of this supplement is a tricky business, but the basic recommendation is 1mg for every 10 pounds. Usually the smallest tablets come in 1mg, so for a small 5 pound animal you would cut that tablet in half. If administering to a cat, crush up the tablet and mix it into food. Nature’s Bounty Melatonin tablets are only 1mg and free of harmful additives. Quarter of a tablet for kittens, half a tablet for most cats, and a full tablet for a truly large cat such as a Maine Coon.


Some kittens have trouble adjusting from the warmth of sleeping with mom and litter to sleeping in their own beds. There are a few ways to replicate the warmth of comfort to help the baby animal adjust. Please do not skimp on any electrical heating device or use unknown brands. There are many Chinese, Russian, and Indian companies out there trying to make inexpensive copycat pet products, but the products are not regulated and can be extremely dangerous to your pet.

K&H Self-Warmining Hooded Kitty Bed

While it won’t win any style points, for function and my-cat-actually-likes-it-ness this bed takes the cake. Inner radiant material safely uses your cat’s own body heat to keep them nice and toasty without an electric socket. The material is soft and suede-like for the most finicky of felines. Our cat loves privacy of the hood, but it is fully removable if your cat prefers open spaces. The bed cover is fully removable and machine washable for easy care.

Toys and Games

Not everyone has the patience to walk a cat nor will every cat tolerate the attempts. Indoor cats still need regular exercise and mental stimulation, though, so how do we provide it? Games and toys that utilize a cat’s desire to hunt and chase provide the best outlet for your feline.

YSAGI Laser Pointer

While not safe for dogs (it can stimulate OCD behaviors in dogs),  a laser pointer is the ultimate toy to wear out your cat. Simply sit back and shine the little red light from the YSAGI Laser Pointer on the floor or wall. When the cat approaches, dart the little red dot like a bug or a butterfly. Your cat will be endlessly intrigued.

Youngever Cat Toy Pack

I love this Youngever Cat Toy Pack because it has a variety of toys to satisfy every cat personality. Most of these toys are designed for autonomous play so your cat can entertain herself while you’re otherwise occupied. My cat’s absolute favorite toy, to this day, is the leopard fabric string teaser from this set.

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