A common herbal medicine used to treat certain illnesses in cats is a tincture. These natural, concentrated liquid medicines are sold in health food stores and online, but you can make them at home to treat your cat. Made from various herbs, use these homemade cat medicines internally to treat illnesses, as well as externally for some skin conditions. Since cats cannot tolerate essential oils, tinctures are used instead to treat illnesses naturally. By making these homemade cat tinctures yourself, you have greater control over the ingredients and their quality.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Vegetable glycerine
- Fresh or dried herbs
- Glass jar(s)
- Small amber dropper bottles
- Metal strainer
- Cheesecloth or muslin
- Measuring cup
Gather the herbs necessary to make the tincture. Catnip is an appetite and mood stimulant; turmeric is an anti-inflammatory; stinging nettles treat sneezing and allergy symptoms; and both marshmallow root and slippery elm bark treat nausea, constipation, diarrhoea and vomiting, according to Holisticat. Rinse off any soil on the herbs and finely chop them with a knife by hand. Do the same if using dried herbs. Place the chopped dry or fresh herbs in the glass jar.
Mix the vegetable glycerine with water in a ratio of 3/4 cup glycerine to 1/4 cup water in a separate container. While many tinctures use grain alcohol instead of vegetable glycerine, cats cannot tolerate alcohol, making vegetable glycerine a better choice to use in tinctures for cats. Vegetable glycerine also tastes sweet, making the resulting tincture more palatable for cats. Use only food-grade 100 per cent vegetable glycerine because other glycerins are poisonous to cats.
Add the vegetable glycerine and water mixture to the jar of herbs, filling it to completely cover all the herbs in the jar, adding an extra inch of liquid on top of the herb level. Tightly close the jar with the lid and label the jar with the date and the contents.
Place the sealed jar in a cabinet for four to six weeks, allowing the herbs to steep in the glycerine mixture. If, in the first few days of steeping, the liquid level lowers significantly, add additional water and glycerine to the jar up to the previous level. Shake the jar occasionally to mix up the herbs and liquid in the jar.
Line a metal strainer with cheesecloth or muslin. Open the jar after four to six weeks of steeping and strain the liquid into a measuring cup. Firmly squeeze all the herbs while straining to get all of their essence into the cup. Put aside the herbs to compost them, if possible.
Add the liquid from the measuring cup into a small, amber dropper bottle or bottles, depending on how much tincture you have. Label the bottle with the type of tincture. Tinctures made from chamomile can calm cats, while those made from ginger, fennel or peppermint treat nausea, according to Holisticat.
Administer the tincture to your cat either by using the dropper to administer into your cat's cheek pouch or mix in food or water. Use two to three drops of the tincture at a time, two to three times per day. Apply the tincture to skin irritations on cats by combining it with beeswax or calendula cream or mix with water in a spray bottle and spray on fur. Mixing a few drops in bath water also calms skin for your cat. Herbs to sooth skin conditions include spirulina, horsetail, dandelions, violets and chamomile, according to Vetinfo.
Tips and warnings
- Use most tinctures on a short-term basis for no more than two weeks at a time.
- Consult a veterinarian when using any homemade medicine for your cat because serious medical conditions require vet care.
- Vegetable glycerine tinctures have a shelf life of one to three years, kept in a dark cabinet or in the refrigerator.
- Use organic herbs in tincture making for cats as they are free from pesticides.
- Never make tinctures for cats from garlic, feverfew, white willow bark, meadowsweet, mistletoe, pennyroyal, comfrey, chaparral, lobelia or alfalfa because these herbs are toxic to cats.
- Use only vegetable glycerine to make tinctures for cats because synthetic glycerine is poisonous if ingested.
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- Holisticat: Cautions Regarding Herbs, Alcohol, and Preservatives
- Stony Mountain Botanicals: Tinctures
- Vetinfo: Relief for Itchy Cat Skin
- Waltz's Ark, The Herbal Encyclopedia: Herbal Healing for Pets
- Natural Healing for Dogs & Cats; Diane Stein
- Share Guide: Healing Herbal Tinctures: Easy to Make and Simple to Administer; Rosemary Gladstar