An upside down world
Any cat finding themselves in a rescue centre has had their world turned upside down.
They have lost their home, family, sense of security, routine. They then have to cope with all of the new sounds, smells, sights, textures, people, neighbouring cats and the feelings that all this change brings with it.
Some cats come into rescue and leave fairly quickly into a new home. Others can literally be there for months, even years. Especially the older cats.
The ‘S’ word
Stress is the biggest underlying cause of health and behaviour problems. And the reason for this heightened stress can be caused by many different factors. Be it physical, emotional or environmental.
Cats may feel frightened, anxious, confused, depressed, frustrated, overwhelmed or be grieving the loss of their family. Some hide, others become irritable, anti-social and may lash out. Others over-compensate for their anxiety and are desperate for attention and re-assurance.
As a result of the stress, their coat may shed more, they go off their food or eat excessively to pacify themselves. They may develop an infection as their immune system becomes compromised by the stress. And commonly they can develop loose stools even vomiting.
From stress to serene using nature’s medicine
Simply reducing a cat’s stress levels can bring about some really positive changes in their emotional and physical wellness.
One of the most wonderful ways to allow cats to de-stress and find their inner calm is to offer them a range of botanicals so they can choose which ones they need.
This process is called Botanical Self-Healing, aka zoopharmacognosy, and harnesses an animal’s innate ability to detect the medicinal properties within plants. They know which ones they need to heal themselves. So by offering them a choice, they get to guide their own wellness.
Cats also love to inhale, roll in or drink aromatic waters, also known as hydrosols which are the co-product of the steam distillation process used to make essential oils. They are gentle, entirely safe for cats who have been given the chance to choose.
The botanicals can help them feel calmer, aid restful sleep, reduce anxiety, relieve discomfort, soothe digestion, relax the breathe, ease respiration.
Opening the door to possibilities
Oxfordshire Animal Sanctuary have been wonderfully open to Botanical Self-Healing. They are constantly striving to improve the welfare of all the animals they care for and the love for the cats and the consideration for each of their individual needs is striking.
I am visiting once every 2 weeks for 2 hours to offer a couple of the cats the opportunity to FEEL more relaxed, safe, comfortable and happy.
The responses have been pretty magical so far.
Their time. Their choice
We have witnessed cats go from hiding and avoiding interaction to purring, rolling in the herbs, ‘chatting’ and grooming. And others who have struggled to settle, go into a lovely peaceful, relaxed posture while inhaling the aromatics. Soft blinking, yawning, laying on their backs or paws tucked under while they process the new ‘information’, sensation and feelings.
Nothing is administered or forced on the cat. It’s 100% their time, their choice with us simply listening and being guided by and supporting their choices.
Often simply the act of listening without expectation can have a profound effect on how a cat feels and therefore behaves.
So with combination of the 1st class care each of the cats receives from the ladies who run the cattery, the volunteers who visit and spend time with the cats and the Botanical Self-Healing sessions, I feel optimistic that cattery at Oxfordshire Animal Sanctuary will be known amongst the feline world as the ‘hilton’ of catteries.
Rachel Windsor-Knott, owner of My Animal Matters Ltd, is an Animal Wellness Practitioner, specialising in Botanical Self-healing and a Dog Behaviour Therapist. She offers private consultations, workshops and talks
Her goal is for the beautiful process of Botanical Self-Healing to become a natural part of sharing your life with your animals.