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Taking care of our furry friends

I miss my girl.

Her fine, soft, speckled fur. Sitting curled up in my lap.

I even miss when she used to meow very loudly for food. Little lady demanding her right.

But she’s gone now.

If you still have a pet. Give them a squeeze, for me.

This post is about taking care of our sweet cats.

Giving them all-natural flea treatments with essential oils. Instead of “bad chemicals” as Matthew says. Conventional flea treatments include a nasty cocktail of pesticides including a terrible one called Chlorpyrifos (trade name Dursban) (Bernardini). Studies done on this pesticide showed that after two weeks there was still chlorpyrifos residue on children's toys in the home (Bernardini). Chlorpyrifos is a nerve killer and only 1/5 of an ounce can kill a grown man. Scary stuff.

So, it's good there are other alternative flea treatments. However, you need to be cautious when applying natural treatments for cats. Cats are smaller than dogs and are more susceptible to toxins. Cats can also more easily overdose on small concentrations of essential oils (for example). So please, take any Pinterest articles with a grain of salt.

Robert Tisserand is a very experienced aromatherapist who has been working in the field for decades. He and Vicky Rae Thorne (founder of earth heart EO mixtures for dogs) have collaborated on this excellent safety article: Aromatherapy for Cats. Please read it if you are considering applying EOs to your cat, it could save their life.

Never use tea tree, citrus, or nutmeg oils on cats (Tisserand). Always mix essential oils with a “carrier” oil such as almond oil or fractionated (liquid) coconut oil. One good option for using essential oils on cats is to use hydrosols or floral waters (Tisserand, Thorne). Hydrosols are the diluted waters from steaming essential oils (Mountain Rose Herbs). This is a very safe method for cats and one that is recommended in the article Aromatherapy for Cats.

If you don’t have access to hydrosols, a good rule of thumb is mixing 1% essential oils in a carrier oil to avoid taxing Kitty’s body (Tisserand). For example, in 1 cup of almond oil (or 236ml/8 oz) you would put about 20-30 drops of the essential oil. However, 1 cup is a large mixture that you will likely never use up. Try ¼ cup of carrier oil and 5-7 drops of EOs. If that still seems quite strong (use your nose!), cut that in half again. Cats have very sensitive noses, so please, if it seems too strong for your nose, tone it down.

Here are some typical flea treatment oils (keeping in mind the warnings about cats above):

{ rosemary }

{ myrtle }

{ peppermint }

{ eucalyptus }

{ geranium }

Geranium is a very powerful oil for keeping away mosquitos, so perhaps it would work for fleas.

Application Tips:

  • Mix oils with carrier oil. You can use an immersion blender or shake it in a jar. Rub oils on hands, then pet your animal.

  • Diffusion in the air.

  • Spritz with non-alcoholic witch hazel. Mix 1% oils with witch hazel in a spritz bottle (labeled Flea Treatment). Spray doggy or kitty’s fur (avoid the eyes).

  • Apply to kitty's collar or bandana around the neck.

  • Mix oils with baking soda in a mason jar with holes poked on lid (or a parmesan shaker). Shake on your rugs, furniture, carpets, and pet bedding. Please ensure you only mix 1% oils in the baking soda mixture, or this could cause kitty to have liver failure, seizures, or any number of other reactions.

When I still had my cat, I fed her garlic regularly. Eating garlic keeps the bugs away! Cats usually enjoy garlic, but if not, try smashing the garlic in a garlic press and mixing with a favorite treat (or even some tuna fish!). I used a small sliver of garlic for my baby-girl once a day, so don’t go overboard.

Prevention: vacuum regularly and wash Kitty’s bedding. Washing bedding consistently is probably #1, as the eggs of the fleas roll off easily from Kitty’s fur and collect in their bedding. If you wash bedding before they get to the sticky flea stage, then you’ve just eliminated the problem! And make sure to empty your vacuum after using it and throw it in the garbage can outside so they can’t hatch in there and escape back into the house.

I noticed from having cats all my life that when they regularly dust bathe themselves outside, the fleas are usually kept to a minimum. I know that chickens will dust bathe to get critters off of their skin, so perhaps there’s some wisdom in that. Just provide a dusty dry dirt patch in your yard and let your Kitty go to town!

I’ve seen people recommend using diatomaceous earth dusting for cats and I have to say this is a very risky technique. DE is a lung irritant and can cause lung cancer in extreme situations. Please don’t take one “remedy” and replace the problem with an even bigger problem. Cats naturally dust bathe in dirt, not DE. Let’s just let them do their thing as they instinctively do and leave it at that.

Also, look into feeding your Kitty raw meat. I fed my cat raw meat for years (since she was a kitten), and never had any health issues. In the wild, cats naturally eat 90% of the time. They are carnivores and any corn, maltrodextrin, or filler stuff in their food is going to make them sick and more susceptible to fleas and other ailments. But make sure to purchase raw meat for pets, not the supermarket special ground beef.There are a lot of risks associated with a raw diet, so please read up on it thoroughly. Young children and babies should not help with feeding raw meat, due to the risk of salmonella poisoning. Learn more (from two vets) about raw meat for cats here.

Here's to you, little lady.

Bernardini, Robert. MS. The Truth About Children's Health: The Comprehensive Guide to Understanding, Preventing, and Reversing Disease. 2003. 38-39.

Tisserand, Robert; Thorne, Vicky Rae. Aromatherapy For Cats. July 2011. 68-69.

Tisserand, Robert. Cats and essential oil safety. June 2011.

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