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8 Remedies to Reduce Anxiety in Your Cat

Kathryn Copeland

Home remedies are not an alternative to professional medical advice. If your pet has a serious issue, please consult your vet immediately.

All cats will suffer from some form of stress and anxiety at some point in their lives. Whether it’s short-lived because the stressful event is going to the vet’s or traveling or it’s something that is a daily part of their lives, it’s always difficult for us to see our cats suffer.

If you are trying to make an event less stressful for your cat or want to make your cat’s daily life a little easier but don’t know how, we go over your options. We have eight methods and products that you can try with your cat that are proven to be safe and effective.

We hope that you can find something that helps make your cat a little calmer in the face of anxiety-driven events, without relying on medication.

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1. Catnip

tabby cat savoring catnip in the garden
Image Credit: Badon Hill Studio, Shutterstock

The idea here is to tire them out. This won’t work for cats that tend to have anxiety issues over unexpected events, but if you are leaving for the vet’s in 15 or 20 minutes, try giving your cat a bit of catnip.

The effect of catnip tends to last between 5 and 15 minutes, which is when your cat will expend a ton of energy and might zone out for a while afterward. This means your cat might feel calmer and more tired during the stressful event.

Pros
  • All-natural
  • Cats love it!
  • 100% safe for cats
Cons
  • Doesn’t directly help a cat with anxiety
  • Short-term effect
  • Not all cats react to catnip

2. Silver Vine/Valerian

This study shows that the silver vine plant is just as effective as catnip. It is a vine native to Japan, Korea, China, and eastern Russia. If you haven’t heard of it before, cats have a similar reaction to silver vine as they do to catnip.

The effects of silver vine tend to last longer than catnip, so you’ll need to give it about 30 minutes before the stressful event. Some cats get quite sleepy after the effects wear off, which might make it a relaxing remedy.

Valerian is another natural herb that can have a similar effect, but the study found that only 50% of cats responded to valerian compared to the 80% of cats that react to catnip and silver vine.

Pros
  • Similar reaction as seen with catnip
  • Cats that don’t respond to catnip might like silver vine
  • Safe for cats to inhale and ingest
  • All-natural, and some cats sleep afterward
Cons
  • Like catnip, not all cats react to it
  • Short-term effect

3. Thundershirt

The Thundershirt is a weighted vest that provides gentle pressure on your cat’s body, which can help calm an anxious cat. It’s designed to prevent anxiety during stressful events, such as fireworks, thunderstorms, or the dreaded trip to the vet. Like catnip and silver vine, 80% of cats respond well to this product.

Pros
  • Not an oral medication or herb
  • Can be worn for long periods
  • Can help with other behavioral issues: scratching, urine marking, etc.
Cons
  • Doesn’t work for all cats
  • Expensive
  • It can take a bit of time for your cat to get used to it

4. Feliway

Feliway is a plug-in that releases the scent that your cat is rubbing all over your house with that adorable face. Cats rub their faces on everything in their home, making everything smell like them, which makes them feel calmer and more comfortable.

Feliway is a synthetic version of this unique pheromone, so when plugged in, it can ease your cat’s anxiety, and luckily, you won’t smell a thing.

Feliway also has calming wipes.

Pros
  • Released into the air
  • When it works, it works well
Cons
  • Only covers 700 sq. ft., so you might need multiple plug-ins (expensive)
  • Needs a minimum of 1 week to be effective
  • Doesn’t work outside of the house (but there is a spray)
  • Doesn’t work for all cats

5. Calming Collar

cat with collar sitting outdoor
Image Credit: dexmac, Pixabay

There are several different calming collars that are exactly what they sound like. Your cat wears a collar that has a calming effect using pheromone technology.

The pheromones in the product emulate the scent that a mother cat has around her kittens. This can make a cat feel calm and secure.

Pros
  • Cats wear it everywhere
  • Pheromones meant to mimic the scent of a mother cat
Cons
  • Only lasts 30 days, so you’ll need to buy one collar a month
  • Some of these collars have a strong scent that cats might not like
  • Many calming collars don’t have a proper clasp, so they fall off easily

6. Rescue Remedy

Rescue Remedy is a homeopathic liquid that you can add to your cat’s food or treats (or directly in their mouth). It is completely natural, with five flower extracts and no added alcohol.

This product has been around for a long time, and many vets recommend it. It can also be given after a stressful event to help calm your cat after the fact.

cat eating_Shutterstock_Africa Studio
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock
Pros
  • All-natural with no alcohol
  • Can be effective for stress relief
  • Recommended by vets
Cons
  • Needs to be given 30 minutes before the stressful event
  • Doesn’t work for all cats

7. Calming Treats/Food

cat eating treat
Image Credit: Andriy Blokhin, Shutterstock

There are calming treats and calming cat food that can help your anxious cat. The treats are usually given once a day and are meant to last all day. They don’t act as sedatives but are meant to make your cat feel calmer and less anxious.

The food is designed to relax your cat and can help with digestive, skin, and urinary problems.

Pros
  • If your cat has anxiety and other health issues, the food helps with everything
  • Effective at relaxing cats
  • The effects of one treat can last all day
Cons
  • If your cat doesn’t like the food or treat, you can’t force them to eat it
  • The food is expensive and needs vet authorization
  • Doesn’t work for every cat

8. Music for Cats

tabby cat sitting beside smart speaker
Image Credit: Lightspruch, Shutterstock

This calming music speaker for cats plays 90 minutes of music designed to relax your stressed-out kitty. It’s wireless and can be placed near the area where your cat tends to hang out and sleep, or it can even be put in the car. It was specially made by a sound behaviorist, with specific frequencies for cats.

When plugged in, it can play all day and all night continuously (if it works well and your cat seems to need it).

Pros
  • Can be charged to play for 8 hours without being plugged in
  • Can travel in the car with you
  • Sound behaviorists created the music specifically for cats
  • Can be played all night or just during a stressful event
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Won’t calm every cat

Other Steps

If you can figure out the specific source of your cat’s anxiety, you can take steps to help minimize it. Working with a cat behaviorist can also help, particularly if none of these methods seem to.

Try spending extra time playing and bonding with your cat, which might help alleviate their anxiety. If your cat loves feather wands, spend time playing with your cat with one. This kind of playtime and bonding can make your cat feel more secure overall.

orange cat touched by mans hand
Image Credit: Piqsels

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Conclusion

Sometimes these remedies might take a bit of time to truly work. Not every product will work for every cat. You might need to try several different items and methods until you find the right one. In some cases, you might need to use multiple methods for the best results.

However, if your cat’s anxiety seems to be affecting their quality of life and nothing seems to be working, you should take your cat to the vet. Sometimes, you have no choice but to use anti-anxiety medication, particularly if your cat is causing self-injury and damage to your home. Your cat’s health and happiness are the most important things.


Featured Image Credit: Robyn Randell, Pixabay

Kathryn Copeland

Kathryn was a librarian in a previous lifetime and is currently a writer about all things pets. When she was a child, she hoped to work in zoos or with wildlife in some way, thanks to her all-consuming love for animals. Unfortunately, she's not strong in the sciences, so she fills her days with researching and writing about all kinds of animals and spends time playing with her adorable but terribly naughty tabby cat, Bella. Kathryn is hoping to add to her family in the near future – maybe another cat and a dog.