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.
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.
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.
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.