When you're sniffling, Grandma recommends taking echinacea to speed up the healing process and relieve you of a cold. The herbal remedy is just as useful for cats. When your feline friend is feeling under the weather, a dose or two of echinacea is just what Dr. Grandma ordered.
Echinacea has been used in medicine for centuries. Since the 1600s and maybe even before, Native Americans were relying on Mother Nature's medicine chest and using the purple cone flower to treat everything from snakebite to stomach aches. Long considered a type of antibiotic, echinacea was on the United States' official list of plants recognized as drugs up until 1940. It was dropped from the list only after many of the conditions echinacea was used to treat began being treated with antibiotics.
Benefits for Cats
Colds and their symptoms are usually the maladies that bring echinacea to mind. While it may reduce the length of time a cold hangs on, echinacea also is effective for treating many other health issues for kitties. In "10 Herbs for Happy, Healthy Cats," Lura Rogers notes that echinacea will give your cat's immune system a boost and is helpful for skin and respiratory conditions. In addition to colds, these can include upper respiratory infections, coughs and allergies. This herbal medicine is also useful in treating cats for bladder infections, abscesses and minor burns.
Use for Cats
For topical use, like in the case of a skin condition, abscess or burn, you can make a cup of echinacea tea and apply it directly to your cat's skin or soak cotton balls in the tea and put them on the area to be treated. When giving echinacea orally, an appropriate dosage for cats is about a quarter of the human dose recommended on the packaging. You can administer it by opening a capsule and sprinkling the appropriate dose on your cat's food. If you're using liquid, 20 drops in 1 ounce of water is the ratio to use, giving your kitty only a half-milliliter three times a day. The best way to determine a more accurate dose for your cat is to consult her vet before giving her echinacea or any medicine, herbal or not.
Any type of drug, natural or otherwise, comes with warnings. One example: Don't use echinacea long-term for your kitty's health. Overuse can overstimulate her immune system, so use it for no more than two weeks at a time. Also, don't dose your furry friend with echinacea if she has diabetes or feline leukemia unless your vet recommends it. The first time you give your cat echinacea, she may have a reaction like crying, hiding or foaming from her mouth. These effects are supposed to decrease after you've given your cat a few doses, but if the reactions include allergy-type responses such as difficulty breathing, hives, swelling of the face, vomiting or fever, stop giving your cat echinacea immediately and take her to see her doctor.
- VetInfo: Home Remedies for Feline Sneezing and Coughing
- "Country Wisdom and Know-How"; Storey Books
- "10 Herbs for Happy, Healthy Cats"; Lura Rogers
- "Natural Healing for Dogs and Cats"; Editors of Prevention Health Books
- "The Pet Lover's Guide to Natural Healing for Cats & Dogs"; Barbara Fougère
- Drugs.com: Echinacea
- "Quick Access Patient Information"; Integrative Medicine Communications
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images