I recently booked Kali in for her second Zoopharmacognosy session with the lovely Kim Matthews. Kali is a rescued Cornish Rex cat who has some ‘issues’. She is typical of her breed and so is rather ‘high maintenance’! The challenging part, though, is that she tends to get stressed and to regurgitate her food. We’ve had her fully investigated by a number of vets, including the wonderful Holistic Vet, Nick Thompson, and it has been confirmed that Kali is in good general health, is not intolerant to her food (she is now on a raw food diet) and does not suffer from mega oesophagus. It definitely appears that her issues are purely stress related. Having tried her on conventional medicines and homeopathy with no improvement, and having attended some amazing workshops with Rachel Windsor-Knott of My Animal Matters, I decided to try zoopharmacognosy to see if Kali had any particular needs that she herself would like to express.
Both sessions started in a similar way with Kali taking some time to settle and tune in. This was not entirely unexpected. For practical reasons the best place to hold the sessions was in my cabin, however the wind and the sight and sound of the birds in the garden were a distraction at first. Also, it was all too new for Kali and she didn’t know what to make of it all. Kim laid out a ‘herb garden’ for her and offered some oils. Kali explored everything but didn’t show any particular interest. Then Kim offered her some Cornflower Water, which can help some animals to focus, and suddenly there was a subtle shift and Kali was able to give us more of her attention.
During the first session, Kali chose to spend some time with the catnip. This was amazing to me as she’s never showed any interest in catnip before. (In the time between the 2 sessions I have placed catnip around the house and have occasionally seen her sniff and even eat some of it. Apparently when cats ingest the catnip they are doing so because of its calming effect.)
On this occasion Kali took a little while to fully settle and engage with the session. She was moving around, seeming not to want any of the oils we offered. (However she did show some signs of processing and releasing – she was sniffing and licking and also gave a yawn and a stretch.)
I was sitting on the floor and she came over and jumped on to my back. Kim offered her some Peppermint Oil and she took a slight sniff then dropped down onto the floor again. Shortly after this she came and lay down on my lap. (Looking back now, I wonder if her stomach was a little uncomfortable, due to the unfamiliar situation, and the Peppermint allowed her to release this sufficiently to carry on?)
Looking for oils that might help her to release and relax Kim gave me Hops and Hemp to offer Kali. She showed a preference for the Hops and so we sat with this for a few minutes. She was trembling slightly and she was blinking deeply so we could tell she was processing. She then gave a yawn and a couple of shudders indicating a release.
The oil that Kali had mainly engaged with previously was Yarrow. This is a very powerful oil which works on a deep emotional level, helping the animal to let go. It is good for over-sensitivity and inner wounds which I suspect is why Kali chose it. In this session we offered it again, this time alongside Vetiver. Still sitting on my lap, Kali slowly moved her head slightly from one side to the other, breathing in the oil from each bottle, seeming again to give more time to the Yarrow. (It might seem a little strange that she went so quickly from apparent disinterest to such an intense oil, but that’s typical of her character. She’s very much an ‘all or nothing’ kinda gal!)
Shortly after this, Kali turned round on my lap, curled into a tight ball and went to sleep, bringing an end to that part of the session. So far we had been in the cabin for about 55 minutes. We sat on, chatting, reluctant to break the spell of the deeply sleeping cat and keen to let her get the full benefit of healing sleep. After about three quarters of an hour I was becoming very uncomfortable, sitting on the hard floor, and it was time for me to get ready to go to another appointment. I shifted slightly and Kali woke up.
This was an amazing session, watching how Kali was able to let go and fall into such a prolonged sleep. I think Kali will always be a very ‘intense’ cat but, hopefully, we have found something that can help her deal with her emotions when they become overwhelming for her.
- Please note that cats are particularly sensitive to essential oils. Always allow your cat to show you how much – or how little – exposure they want to the oil and never directly apply any oil to your cat. For this reason it is also important to take care when offering a bottle of oil for your cat to sniff. Make sure that you offer it in such a way that they can’t accidentally come into contact with the bottle.
- You can try putting a few drops of oil onto a piece of cloth and putting this on the floor for your cat to examine (see above). They can then choose how close they want to get to the oil.
- Also always make sure that your cat can remove themselves from the smell of the oil if they choose.