We’re all familiar with catnip and the effect it has on some of our feline friends, but the idea of using herbs to help cats with emotional issues is perhaps not so familiar to most of us.
The Alley Katz range of herbal toys, containing mood-improving herbal remedies for cats, is by natural therapist, George McBurney. George has studied zoopharmacognosy* and essential oil therapy for animals, and now works together with sewist, Tracy Sherman, to produce these cute therapeutic felt fish.
* (Me neither – it’s the study of behaviour in which non-human animals apparently self-medicate by selecting and ingesting or topically applying plants, soil, insects and psychoactive drugs to treat or prevent disease. So now you know what it means, but I bet you still can’t pronounce it!)
The fish are available for £6.50 each, and measure 12cm x 6cm.
So what exactly are these herbal toys supposed to do for your cat?
1. Black – Catnip; no explanation needed here.
2. Blue – Yarrow; for cats who are over-sensitive.
3. Yellow – Chamomile; for cats who are anxious or suffer from tension.
4. Red – Rose; for cats who have suffered past trauma, need nurturing or need to release anger and resentment.
1. Pink – Jasmine; to calm and comfort cats deprived of affection.
2. Purple – Lavender; for cats who are nervous and anxious.
3. Grey – Comfrey; for bone, ligament or tendon repair.
4. Orange – Lemon Citrus Herbs; uplifting and aids concentration in cats.
1 Green – Peppermint; for cats who lack confidence, or often find themselves bored or lethargic.
2 Cyan – Seaweed; for cleansing the mind, body and soul and giving cats a sense of peace.
3 Cream – Angelica root; for rescue cats who may have deeply held emotions.
4 Brown – Valerian; for calming aggressive cats and helping them to focus.
While I find this range of toys an interesting concept, I have to say that I’m pretty sceptical as to any benefits our cats may actually derive from them. I think the majority of benefits reported by humans who use herbal remedies are down to the placebo effect, and placebos just don’t cut the mustard where cats are concerned. Anthropomorphic phrases such as ‘For cats who need to release anger and resentment’ also bother me, as I’m wary of ascribing human emotions to our feline companions; regarding cats as little hairy people can lead to unrealistic expectations for the human/cat relationship, resulting in disappointed humans and misunderstood cats.
But, as anyone who knows me will readily confirm, I am a cynical old bastard. But not a dogmatic cynical old bastard, so if anyone reading this has had positive results from using any of the above herbal remedies to help cats with emotional issues, please leave a comment below and tell me all about it. I promise to keep an open mind!.