Rescue Remedy for Cats (does it REALLY work?)
Rescue Remedy is something that is often used to help control feelings of stress and anxiety. Is it an effective treatment of stress in cats as well? Are there any side-effects and what else do you need to consider to help your stressed out cat relax?
Okay so question number two was sent in by Brit. She's got a couple of cats, and one of them has become super stressed out. She’s tried Feliway, she's tried using an herb collar, which helped a little but not much and now she's moved on to trying Rescue Remedy and it seems to have helped.
But she's wondering, where does she put it? How did she administer it? What dose? How many times a day should she be using it? She’s said she's used Rescue Remedy herself and she knows it well for people, but not so much for animals.
And then she also asks if there’s anything else that she could do or she should be doing for her stressed out cat.
Stress in cats
So to start with, stress in a multi-cat household is really common and Britt has got a couple of cats. It's great that she's recognized this, because I think a lot of us don't necessarily appreciate the stress that our cats can be under.
But then other things such as pain can cause similar problems to what she's seeing and any cat with a change in behavior should be checked to ensure that nothing else is going wrong and to get specific recommendations tailored to your specific cat, specifically from your vet.
Eliminate the cause
And then we can actually take steps to reduce the causes of stress rather than just to medicate. If we can identify the cause of that stress, and remove it or lessen it, then that's going to be much better than simply giving medication, trying different supplements, and trying to treat it. So definitely trying to eliminate it from the environment if you like, is really important.
So to start with, we should have one more food bowl, one more water bottle and one more litter tray than the number of cats in the house. So if we've got two cats, that means three food bowls, three water bowls, three litter trays and that's in separate locations as well. If you've got three cats then four food bowls, et cetera. So you can quickly see how if you've got a lot of cats, then you need a lot of resources and that's because the competition for these resources is a really big cause of stress.
Now another thing, we also need to have escape routes. So rather than just have two cats shut in the same room in close proximity, if they're not getting on, they've got nowhere to go and we want to have escape routes and safe spaces as well that a cat can get to and a cat can hide away in and feel safe. And cats are really three dimensional in their outlook of their environment. So having spaces up high, or tucked away kind of at the top of a wardrobe or in a cupboard under a bed, up high, down low, because it's really important.
Be sure to download my free guide to stress in cats found in the Our Pets Health Knowledge Vault!
Rescue Remedy for Cats
Now if we move onto medications, some people will swear by Rescue Remedy and typically they'll give a drop or two, several times a day.
I've actually had a little bit of a change in my beliefs recently. I think it's always important that we continually re-evaluate things, and we don’t just kind of take things for granted or we look into things a little bit more closely.
I used to believe that Rescue Remedy could be classed as a herbal supplement, and so it could potentially be beneficial. But, I've recently been looking into it in a little bit more detail as I've been looking at different supplements.
What is rescue remedy?
A bit of background, it was first produced in the 1930s by an English homeopath. When he was feeling a certain negative emotion, all he did was held his hand over various different plants and the one that made him feel better, he ascribed the healing power to cure that negative emotion to that plant.
He then collected the dew from the plant, feeling that the plant would have transferred its energy into the water that was sitting on the petals. This dew was then mixed with the same amount of brandy to produce something called a “mother tincture”, before then being further diluted with an alcohol to produce the final therapeutic product.
Rescue remedy is actually produced from the dew of five different flowers.
Is Rescue Remedy homeopathic?
Now, it's not produced in the same way as homeopathic remedies. The dilution is not so great and there's not the concussive step to transfer the energy.
In homeopathic remedies, they take a drop of a substance, they dilute it in a lot of water and then they bash it against a leather strap to transfer the energy of the substance to the water, before diluting it again. This step is repeated a large number of times, with the more dilutions performed, the stronger the remedy.
So Rescue Remedy doesn’t undergo these steps, but it's got very similar underlying philosophies to homeopathy.
How is Rescue Remedy made?
In commercially produced flower remedies, like Rescue Remedy, if the dew can't be collected then the initial step is having the flowers and the petals from the plant soaking in water with the sun's rays being allowed to pass through them.
If that's not possible, just being boiled is the initial step. Then comes the dilution with alcohol to produce the final product.
Evidence Rescue Remedy works
There's actually no evidence at all that Rescue Remedy has any effect, unsurprisingly given how it's produced and the sharing of similar principles to homeopathy.
It's really not something that's got any logical action and it's got no evidence to support it. It has been looked at but the studies carried out have failed to show any benefit to an individual taking Rescue Remedy.
Rescue Remedy side effects
None…unless that is you give a huge amount and get your cat drunk (please don’t)!
I don’t recommend it for your cat
Rescue Remedy is now something that I wouldn't recommend.
Simple as that!
If you're interested in homeopathy, then I’ve written in detail about the use of homeopathy in pets.
Anti-stress medication for cats
There are other things that we can give.
Feliway generally does help but it shouldn't be the only thing that we do. It does need other things to help it and that can be managing the environment like I've already discussed.
There are other supplements that we can use that are more like herbal dietary supplements and that's like Calmex and Zylkene, which have limited evidence to prove their effects, but there is some evidence out there however slight.
And then we've also got proper pharmaceutical products such as clomipramine, which is an anti-anxiety, an anti-depressant treatment that can really help in reducing stress. We want to be using that in the short-term ideally, and it's not something that we would reach for in every single stressed out cat.
But for a cat that's really struggling to cope with their environment, it's definitely something that we can consider, but obviously needs to be prescribed by a vet. And again, used with changes in the environment as well so that a cat isn't just put on medication and left on medication for a long period of time.
The above is a transcript taken from “The Dr Alex Answers Show”.
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