Cat Calming Behavior Aids

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      Blending science and nature, manufacturers are making calming aids to ensure cats are relaxed and healthy.

      Controlling cat anxiety is now an issue of not only solving bad behavior and calming nerves, it’s about understanding the different causes of the problem. Whether through the use of mimicking naturally occurring pheromones or exploring other holistic approaches to sedation, manufacturers are identifying solutions to maintain a calm demeanor in cats based on understanding feline physiology.

      While states across the nation continue to consider laws or pass legislation legalizing marijuana, some manufacturers of hemp-based, or cannabidiol (CBD), calming products are enjoying greater social acceptance. These companies are spreading the message that their products offer calming benefits, without the psychoactive side effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is found in marijuana. Likening the difference between hemp and marijuana to lemons and oranges, Chelsea Gennings, vice president of business development and special projects at Pet Releaf based in Littleton, Colo., outlines how retailers can reassure pet parents about CBD usage to calm their animals.

      “In the cannabis plant family, we have hemp and marijuana—both in the cannabis family but entirely different plants. What makes these plants different, biologically, is the amount of THC. Any cannabis plant that contains 0.3 percent or less THC is considered hemp and is legal within all 50 states. Anything higher is categorized as marijuana which is not legal in all 50 states.”

      When considering different options for feline calming aids, pet parents might not understand that these products simply complement the naturally occurring processes in their cats’ bodies. As any mammal’s body regulates the anxiety that it feels, the internal endocannabinoid system releases chemicals that can quell nervous responses, explains Adam Mizrahi, marketing director at Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Diamond CBD.

      “Within the endocannabinoid system lie cannabinoid receptors, which can be considered the message receivers,” he says. “Chemical messages bind to these receptors, creating a specific effect on the body. Typically, the body produces what is known as Endocannabinoids, which are natural cannabinoids, as needed.”

      These natural endocannabinoids, says Mizrahi, are produced and break down quickly, but when CBD products are administered, they remain in the body for a longer period of time; thereby eliciting a more noticeable, positive change in behavior.

      A Naturally Calm Environment

      Manufacturers of pet calming aids are finding other ways to use a cat’s own physiological functions to help control anxiety. By duplicating the pheromones that are produced by glands between a cat’s toes and left behind to claim desirable scratching locations, manufacturers are using these chemicals to help pet parents guide their animals toward the ideal places to scratch.

      “Clinical trials have demonstrated that when this synthetic pheromone product is applied to a scratching post, most cats will prefer to use the post and either stop or significantly decrease their scratching of other objects in the environment,” says Dr. Valarie Tynes, board certified veterinary behaviorist with Ceva Animal Health based in Lenexa, Kan. “The causes of anxiety in cats may be as simple as the addition of a new person, pet or furnishings in the home.”

      Often, consumers search for solutions to alleviate cat anxiety through products they can administer to an animal, rather than how felines can be accommodated as a member of the family. At Dallas-based Pet Healthy Brands, James Goff, the company’s vice president has examined the early signs of cat anxiety that could begin at the litterbox.

      “Not covering up after using the litter box may occur because the litter box is not kept clean enough. Cats like clean environments. They may not like the litter itself, or the way it feels under their feet it may be too coarse or too soft. Parents need to make sure the litter box is kept clean. Completely empty and wash the litter box on a regular basis.”

      Cats are known as animals that can be easily turned off by their surroundings, and they will not suppress these feelings when they’re not pleased. The seemingly simple issue of keeping a well-maintained litterbox can make the difference between having a nervous cat and a feral-acting feline.

      Addressing Trends in Calming Aids

      The enormous demand for natural products has led to a greater focus on manufacturing calming aids with safe ingredients. Similar to many other areas of the pet-goods segment, many cat calming-aid formulas have shifted toward natural sources.

      “We see pet parents seeking out even more all-natural and holistic options when it comes to their cat’s anxiety,” explains Gennings. “Retailers can prepare for these trends by seeking out manufacturers who are producing all-natural, organic and truly effective products.”

      As the public becomes more aware of the formulas used in behavioral solutions for themselves and their pets, consumers will grow more discerning when choosing products. When shopping for therapeutic calming aids, pet parents will base their choices upon the solutions they would choose for themselves.

      “Since we are treating our pets more and more like us, we see that the pet parents are starting to treat their pets like we treat ourselves, whether it is with drugs or supplements,” says Goff.

      Consumers are also searching for greater ease when treating their cats with anxiety solutions. When trying to quell a cat’s nerves, pet parents want to avoid creating additional stress when trying to administer treatment.

      “Where before everything was mostly about [CBD] oils or tinctures, we now see that the feline community is looking for variety. That way they have options if their cat is a bit picky about one product, then they may not be about another,” says Mizrahi.

      Retailers must realize that solutions fit for one cat, might not be suitable for another. When selling products meant to ease anxiety, retailers must be prepared with a full understanding of the ingredients in every product to help pet parents choose the correct solutions for their animals to maintain a happy home.

      “Retailers should be aware that not all formulas are created equal and scientific evidence regarding efficacy and safety is important,” advises Tynes. “Focusing on interventions with clinical evidence of their efficacy will help keep pets in their homes and out of animal shelters.” PB

      By Dorothy Crouch

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