Bach Flower Remedies were developed in the early 1900s by Dr. Edward Bach, an English Physician. While originally developed for humans, these flower essences also work beautifully on animals too!
Dr. Edward Bach was a highly respected physician in London, England. Despite his successful work in medicine, Dr. Bach became increasingly dissatisfied with the way doctors were expected to focus on the treatment of disease and ignore the effects they had on the people who were suffering from them. He strongly believed that the mind had the power to ease suffering which would ultimately make traditional treatments for diseases more effective.
In 1930, he gave up his lucrative practice, left London, and devoted the rest of his life to developing a new, natural system of medicine that focused on the emotional instead of the physical. Utilizing various plants and flowers, he created remedies aimed at a particular mental or emotional state to aid in unlocking the body’s natural healing power. The result was the Bach Flower Remedies still used by homeopathic practitioners today.
These flower essences affect the emotional, mental, and energetic levels in the body similar to the way acupuncture works. They help the body heal itself by healing emotional, mental, and physical stress, returning the body to a state of balance, and revitalizing the vital force which governs strength and well-being.
Cats are notorious for being easily stressed. A trip to the vet, a new pet in the house, being fed new food, visitors, even a change in their owner’s work schedule, can set a cat off on the road to bad behavior, or even illness. We work with cats that have obvious reasons for experiencing stress. When they come to us, they have been abandoned, abused, are sick or injured, and most have learned to be frightened of humans.
We have used Bach Flower Remedies with our cats for many years with great success and can swear by their effectiveness! We have used them to ease the transition of new cats into the household, to help bully cats become a bit more tolerant, to ease grieving, to aid in recovery from illness or injury, and to cope with the stress of a visit to the vet. But these are just a few examples of when Bach Flower Remedies can help cats coping with stress.
The best thing about flower essences, aside from the fact that they work, is that they are non-toxic and won’t harm your cats, even if you give them one they don’t really need. In other words, if you give a non-aggressive cat and an aggressive cat a remedy for aggression, it will simply have no effect on the non-aggressive cat at all. However, your aggressive cat will begin to calm down and become more tolerant of his house-mates!
- ASPEN = fear of the unknown and constant anxiety
- BEECH = intolerance of other animals or people, or changes in their routine
- CENTAURY = meek, picked on by other cats
- CHICORY = for manipulative, possessive, or clingy cats or cats with separation anxiety
- CRAB APPLE = for over-grooming and compulsive behavior
- ELM = for cats that are easily overwhelmed, obsessive-compulsive behavior, or for territorial stress
- HOLLY = lost status or attention, jealousy, abandonment, or for abused cats
- IMPATIENS = for impatience, nervousness, and irritability
- LARCH = for cats intimidated by other cats, and for cats who spray
- MIMULUS = for specific fears (like a trip to the vet). Also for timid cats and fear of other animals or people
- PINE = for cats feeling guilt even though they have done nothing wrong, feel rejected, abused or fearful
- STAR OF BETHLEHEM = for any kind of physical or emotional trauma, shock, need for comfort
- VINE = for the control freak intent on domination, aggressive cats, and cats who bully others
- WALNUT = for cats experiencing changes, going into a new environment, meeting new animals, transitioning from outdoor to inside only
- WATER VIOLET = for grief, or for loners or reclusive cats
- RESCUE REMEDY = actually a combination of 5 flower essences creating an essence all its own. Used in any kind of trauma, emergency, or any stressful situation. Use the drops or spray only. Don’t use the cream or pastilles with pets, they are too strong.
Flower Essences can be used in combination to treat a multi-faceted issue. When a problem develops, we will often use several Bach Flower essences at the same time. For example, recently, Buddy and Louie started mercilessly picking on Marty. Then Chloe and Tabby got into the act. Soon, it seemed as though everyone was picking on poor Marty.
We used Centaury to help the picked-on Marty, Vine for Buddy and Louie the instigators, and Holly for the jealous Chloe and Tabby. We also used Rescue Remedy for the generally high level of stress in the household. Within a few days, everybody seemed calmer and Marty was not getting picked on so much. Within about 2 weeks, the behavior stopped altogether.
When Gizmo and the kittens arrived, we gave everybody Walnut and Beech. By the time mom and kids joined the rest of the group, the introductions went pretty well with no fighting and minimal hissing. (Still lots of ignoring, however!)
This is not to say that Bach Flower Remedies are the answer to every problem but they do help cats cope with stress and emotional upheaval.
Bach Flower Essences can be purchased at most health food stores, and of course, over the internet. We don’t recommend giving them by mouth or giving them undiluted. They taste terrible! And alcohol is often used as a preservative which most cats dislike and some even get sick from it. Additionally, most cats do not tolerate being forced to take something by mouth and, since the purpose of the remedy is to reduce stress, forcing a cat to swallow a bitter tasting concoction is not a good way to decrease his stress level! Fortunately, there are ways around this!
There are several ways Bach Flower Remedies can be administered to cats:
- Add a dropper full to the Water Dish = this method is especially good for treating several cats. The remedy should be added to all of the water dishes. Because we also use water fountains that use a filter, and we don’t know if the essence will survive filtration, we remove the filter during treatment.
- Place a few drops in your hand and rub around the cat’s head and ears, especially on the crown of the head. This method works well when treating an individual cat.
- Add 2-3 dropper fulls to a bottle of spring water and spray it around the house, carrier, bedding, furniture, litter boxes, cat trees, inside the car and so forth. This is a great way to treat the whole household and to ease the stress of a car trip to the vet.
- Add a few diluted drops to food, treats, or a favorite toy.
- For a cat that is obsessively licking an area, if it is not too red and the skin is not broken, apply a diluted drop or 2 directly on the area she is licking and let her lick it off.
As we stated before, Bach Flower Remedies taste terrible! We always dilute them before using any flower essence with our cats. Diluting the essence does not in any way dilute its effectiveness.
To dilute an essence or when a combination of essences is desired, add 2 drops of the desired essence(s) to an ounce of spring water. Slap the bottom of the bottle on the heel of your hand 10 times to mix. Mix in this manner each time before administering it.
To treat an individual cat, administer the desired Bach Flower remedy 3-4 times a day either orally (if the cat tolerates it) or by using the rubbing method (our preferred method).
To treat several cats, or the whole household, add a dropper full to each water dish daily and with every water change. Additionally, mix in a spray bottle and spray communal areas 3-4 times a day. Remember, any cat that does not need the particular essence(s) being used will not be affected by it in any way.
Use the desired essence(s) for 2-4 weeks or until you observe the desired effect. Often, with individual treatment, we see a marked improvement within a couple of days.
Once you see the desired effect, you can start cutting back on the frequency of administration. Cut back on the frequency slowly over a week or 2. If the problem or behavior returns, increase the frequency of administration again.
For deeply ingrained stress, such as with abused cats, daily administration of Bach Flower Remedies may be needed for months. Long-term use of flower essences is not harmful to any cat and should be continued if it helps to ease the cat’s stress.
Rescue Remedy, when used for acute stress, can be given as often as needed, even every few minutes, achieve the desired effect.
At this point, you may be thinking to yourself “How do I know which Bach Flower remedy my cat needs?” Animals, especially cats, are surprisingly easy to “read” emotionally. All it takes is observation and a bit of insight.
Cats are emotionally honest – they have no guile. They cannot lie or “fake” how they feel like people can. (One of the reasons we love them so much!) Chances are if your cat seems anxious, she probably is! And, it is very easy to see who is being a bully and who is getting picked on! Just use your best judgment when choosing a Bach Flower Remedy – chances are excellent you’ll have chosen correctly. After all, who knows your cats better than you do?!
It is important to note that Bach Flower Remedies by themselves are not the magic cure for any problem you may have with your cats. They should be used in conjunction with other behavior modification techniques.
For instance, when introducing a new cat to the household, it should be done slowly, over time. Don’t just give the poor cat some Walnut or Beech Flower essence, throw him in with the rest of the group, and expect all to go well.
We have had excellent results using Bach Flower Remedies with our cats and highly recommend them when a problem develops. They are especially good to use on adults after spaying or neutering, and when transitioning a cat from outdoors to indoor only.
We have rescued many cats over the years, taken in grieving cats whose owners have died, and dealt with sick and injured cats as well. All of them experience a great deal of stress when they first arrive and using various Bach Flower Remedies has done wonders in helping them cope with their new situation. We have even used them to help ourselves cope with stress – especially when we lose a little one we tried so hard to save.
Last Christmas, when we lost our dog, Honeysuckle and Rescue Remedy were practically a staple around here! She was like a mom to several of the kittens and cats and it was obvious that they missed her as terribly as we did. After a couple of weeks, things were back to normal for the cats. (It took a while longer for us humans!)
The point is, all of us, including our cats, sometimes need a little bit of help to cope with the stress of life. Bach Flower Remedies are a safe, non-toxic way to provide that little bit of extra help your cats may need to cope with stress, recover, and learn to be happy and secure living the contented life they deserve!
Concerned about using Bach Flower Essences? Worried that your cat issues will turn into full-blown neurosis before you hit on the right combination? Worried about the alcohol? Doubtful that the remedies will work?
We are right there with you! Because of these concerns, we are always on the lookout for something better, despite our use of the Bach Flower Remedies for several years. And we finally found it!