How Do I Find A Calming Product For My Cat?
Keep your cat calm with these products 😸
Did you know that cats can have anxiety just like people?
A lot of things can cause anxiety in cats — their owner leaving, a traumatic experience, lack of socialization or even a simple trip to the vet.
So how can you tell if your cat has anxiety? Some signs of anxiety in cats include freezing, holding his ears back, hair standing up, aggression, crouching, shifting his body or head away and holding his tail close to his body.
If you notice your cat showing any of these anxiety symptoms, you may want to consider using a cat calming product to help him. But how can you find the right calming product for your cat?
The Dodo spoke to Dr. Michelle Burch, a veterinarian from Safe Hounds Pet Insurance, and Dr. Sarah Wooten, a veterinary journalist and veterinarian with Pumpkin Pet Insurance, to find out how to find the best calming products for your cat.
- Best multipurpose calming product: Zesty Paws Calming Bites Soft Chews for Cats
- Best cat calming pheromone product: Feliway Classic Cat Calming Diffuser Kit for Cats
- Best calming capsules: Vetoquinol Zylkene Capsules Calming Supplement for Cats & Dogs
- Best calming jacket: ThunderShirt by ThunderWorks
- Best calming collar: NurtureCALM 24/7 Feline Calming Pheromone Collar
- Best calming wipes: Feliway Calming Cat Wipes
- Best prescription anxiety medication: Gabapentin
- Best high-tech calming product: Assisi Animal Health 2.0 Manual Dog Loop
Will cat calming products cure your cat’s anxiety?
While calming products are helpful, you should talk to your vet to determine the underlying cause of your cat’s anxiety and stress.
“Calming products can help your cat feel better; however, it is best to determine the cause of anxiety in your cat and eliminate it if possible and use the calming products as tools to help you along the way,” Dr. Wooten told The Dodo. “If the underlying cause is removed, anxiety often resolves on its own.”
Your cat may also need additional treatment, such as behavior modification and prescription medication, but calming products can be beneficial in managing symptoms, Dr. Burch said.
And cat calming products should be used in combination with other therapies, such as exercise, to help reduce stress more efficiently.
“Cats who are bored or have too much energy develop anxiety and stress more often than pets who meet their daily exercise needs,” Dr. Burch told The Dodo. “I recommend exercising your cat for a minimum of one hour [per day] to help prevent anxiety.”
Benefits of calming products for cats
There are lots of benefits to using calming products for your cat.
“Calming products can increase your cat’s tolerance to stressors and reduce anxiety and anxiety-related behaviors, such as inappropriate elimination, hiding or aggression,” Dr. Wooten said.
Cat calming products can be super helpful if your cat gets stressed out in situations like going to the vet, during thunderstorms or when there are changes in his routine. Not only do they keep your cat calm, but they can help you as well — because you won’t have to worry about your cat freaking out.
Types of cat calming products
There are a number of different types of cat calming products. The product you choose to help your cat’s anxiety will depend on your individual cat and your vet’s recommendations.
Calming products for cats include:
- Oral supplements and chews
- Compression jackets
- Pheromones (sprays, diffusers, wipes, collars)
- Prescription medications
- Targeted EMF (electromagnetic field) therapy
- High frequency vibration emitters
- Environmental enrichment toys (interactive toys)
How to find the best calming products
Before trying out any cat calming products, you might want to ask your vet what they think would be best.
“During your visit with your veterinarian, I recommend taking their advice on the best calming products for your cat,” Dr. Burch said. “Each cat is an individual, and an effect that helps one cat may not benefit your cat.”
Dr. Burch also recommends looking for products that were developed by a veterinarian or recommended by veterinarians — that way you’ll know they’re safe.
You can also check online cat forums and read product reviews to see what other cat parents recommend, Dr. Wooten said.
To help you find some of the best cat calming products, The Dodo rounded up some of our picks and veterinarian recommendations — so you and your cat can both relax.
These cat calming supplements come as a chewable bite, so your cat will think it’s a yummy treat. They contain Suntheanine (a form of the amino acid L-theanine), L-tryptophan, chamomile and melatonin — basically everything your cat needs to help him stay calm. One cat parent reviewer said, “This stuff is a lifesaver.” Another reviewer said, “The treats have really calmed him down. Visiting the groomer isn't such a hectic nightmare anymore.”
Both vets recommend Feliway if you want to try a pheromone product.
“I recommend using Feliway pheromone diffusers,” Dr. Burch said. “The pheromones used are synthetic hormones that mimic the ones produced by mother cats to calm their young. Having this pheromone available for your cat to smell and stimulate the olfactory system can reduce anxiety.”
There’s a reason this product is so loved by vets and cat parents — it really works. It’s clinically proven to reduce scratching and urinating as a result of stress in 9 out of 10 cats, and you may see results as early as seven days after starting to use the diffuser. For best results, you should plug in the diffuser in the room where your cat spends the most time to help him feel comfortable in his environment.
Both Dr. Burch and Dr. Wooten recommend Zylkene.
“Zylkene uses a milk protein and is an awesome natural calming product for cats,” Dr. Wooten said.
The milk protein alpha-casozepine promotes relaxation in babies and has a similar effect in cats. This protein is found in cow’s milk and calms cats’ anxiety with no sedating or tranquilizing effects. Even though it’s made with milk protein, it’s lactose-free, so it’s safe for cats who have any lactose intolerance. It also has no preservatives, so it’s perfect if you’re looking for a natural product. The capsules can be given directly to your cat, or they can be broken and sprinkled in your cat’s food if he refuses to take pills.
“I recommend the ThunderShirt by ThunderWorks as the best calming jacket,” Dr. Burch said. “Like swaddling a baby or using a weighted blanket, a compression jacket will apply gentle and constant pressure to your cat's torso. The gentle pressure releases the calming hormone oxytocin and endorphins.”
If you’re not ready to give your cat supplements or medications, or if you want to try a physical aid in combination with supplements, a ThunderShirt is a great option. It can be used for any stressful situation, such as trips to the vet, thunderstorms, travel and fireworks. It can even be used to help calm your cat’s separation anxiety. It’s machine-washable and is resistant to pet hair, so you don’t have to worry about his fur getting all over it.
“I recommend the NurtureCALM pheromone collar to help calm cats,” Dr. Burch said. “The pheromone which is embedded in the collar helps reduce fear and stress during unpleasant events. The collar emits pheromones for up to 30 days and is with your cat anywhere in the house.”
Similar to the pheromone diffuser, this collar replicates pheromones that a mother cat produces to calm her kittens. Since your cat will wear his collar all the time, the calming effects of the pheromones will follow him wherever he goes — even if that’s on a stressful trip to the vet.
Both vets recommend Feliway wipes.
“I recommend using Feliway calming wipes,” Dr. Burch said. “The wipes are best used when traveling either to the veterinary office or a new home. The calming wipes mimic a cat's natural facial pheromone to help create a state of familiarity and security.”
These wipes are useful for short-term calming, like for wiping down his carrier for traveling. You can also use them to wipe down areas in your home to create spots that your cat will find comfortable in your house (like your cat’s bed). The wipes also come in individual packets for easy use when you’re on the go.
If your cat has severe anxiety, your vet may suggest prescription medication to help.
“I believe that gabapentin is the best calming product out there,” Dr. Wooten said. “It is a muscle relaxant medication and does require a prescription, but [it’s good] for cats that have severe anxiety, especially anxiety associated with veterinary visits and boarding.”
You should talk to your vet if your cat has severe anxiety to see if they recommend a stronger prescription medication such as gabapentin.
“[I recommend] Assisi Loop, which uses targeted EMF therapy to reduce anxiety and pain and inflammation as well!” Dr. Wooten said
If you want to get really high-tech (and splurge a little), you can try this product that delivers electromagnetic field signals to stimulate your cat’s anti-inflammatory response. This not only helps with anxiety, but also with pain and inflammation. It’s small and portable, so you can easily take it with you wherever you go. It also automatically shuts off after 15 minutes, so you don’t have to remember to turn it off.
And remember, calming products for cats are helpful in managing symptoms, but they won’t cure your cat’s anxiety.
“Calming products aren’t considered a cure,” Dr. Wooten said. “They are considered training aids to improve quality of life and provide support to your cat while you attempt to remove or mitigate whatever is stressing out your cat.”
So if your cat has anxiety, don’t worry! There are lots of ways to help him. Talk to your vet to find out if calming products like these might help him feel less stressed out.
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