Animal Aromatics: A Two Cat Story
To introduce what Animal Aromatics is, I can think of no better person than the most recognized modern day practitioner of this art -- Caroline Ingraham, author of The Animal Aromatics Workbook (and other Animal Aromatics books).
“Animal Aromatics works on the principle of giving back to animals the medicinal, non-food range of remedies similar in their chemical make-up to those they would naturally seek and use in the wild. Animal Aromatics encourages and allows the animal to guide its own treatment using its innate responses.”
“Once the animal has selected its remedy, it will then guide the treatment by inhaling it, taking it orally or by rubbing a part of its body into it. When the condition has cleared or improved, the animal will normally reject aromas that were previously chosen and enjoyed.”
Animal Aromatics, therefore, is a subset of the broader art of Aromatherapy, although the essential oils which animals are attracted to, and often select, are not the typical ones we are familiar with, for example, Violet Leaf and Angelica Root. These are not selections to put into the bath!
Below is a recent (2023) story by practitioner Sonya Greyeyes, who completed her Aromatherapy Practitioner training with me in 2021.
Meet Jumpy and Bumpy (not their real names). Jumpy is an 9 year old female cat that is very sweet but can be anxious and has always hid from people. Bumpy is 4, a male rescue, and an affectionate cat, with humans. The two cats had some behavioural issues which were beginning to escalate. A previously normal cat fight would now turn into Bumpy pinning down Jumpy, biting her until she cried and ran away. He would then stalk her, bully her out of her food, out of the litter box, and anytime she was getting attention. In the last couple of months Jumpy began over-grooming on spots, no redness but they no longer had hair.
Their owner reached out to see if there was anything I could do to help, as they were even considering re-homing the male. So, with my aroma kit in hand I headed off to see what could be done!
When I first arrived at the house, the cats were both by the door to greet me and already curious as to what was in my bag. The owner told me they would normally be off hiding when someone came over, so this was already a good sign! As I sat on the floor unpacking my kit, which included Spirulina, Chickweed Macerated Oil and the Essential Oils, both cats came over and were really drawn to the unopened jar of Spirulina. Once opened both cats were trying to get at it. Jumpy went first but Bumpy pushed her out of the way. I sprinkled some on a plate. Bumpy licked a bit and soon lost interest. Jumpy came in and finished off what he left - their 'typical' behaviour. Bumpy hopped onto the living room chair and got comfortable, Jumpy walked into the cat carrier and began to groom. The owner explained, "This is what usually happens – at some point Bumpy will hop out of the chair and kick her out of the carrier." With that bit of information I introduced the first Essential Oil. Below is a recap of the cat’s responses and the behavior changes that followed.
Jumpy instantly stopped grooming, her eyes shot over to where the vial of essential oil sat, about 3 feet away, and her eyes became very alert. She just stared and stared at this little vial. The owner commented on how big her pupils were and the intensity of the stare-off. This subsided and she began grooming again. Then Bumpy hopped out of the chair and went over to the carrier. He started to go in but after two paws he stopped short... it was as if he sensed a change in her. He literally backed out and returned to his chair – a great example of how quickly and potently the oils can take effect!
I introduced the second oil. Jumpy had intent strained eyes again, turned around in her carrier, groomed a little and when she looked back at the vial her face looked tight! All her facial features were clearly pointy. She eventually returned to grooming.
I introduced the third essential oil and Jumpy turned a few times in her carrier and looked like she was going to lie down but then left. The owner commenting that she'll probably go off and hide. Instead she came back to the living room and nestled on the top part of the sofa, the whole time Bumpy watching every move.
With both cats calm and relaxed I offer them a Five Element healing treatment. I started with Bumpy, who, even though affectionate with humans, I could feel his 'edge'. At first I thought I'd try to sit with him so I could touch him, but as I carefully approached he gave me a warning 'bite'. With this in mind, and respecting his space, I sat on the floor below him. Within a few minutes, with my eyes still closed, the owner observed Bumpy fully stretch out, lying on his side with his belly half exposed. By the time I opened my eyes his demeanor was dramatically different! He no longer looked like a 'ticked-off' cat that had an edge to him, but now had a look of pure innocence.
Jumpy didn't change too much from her already quite relaxed position during her treatment. When I opened my eyes both cats were looking chill in their respected spots. At this point I decide to introduce Oil number 4. Bumpy was quite curious! Loads of sniffing, and eventually hopped out of his chair to investigate further. Jumpy then moved off the couch and both cats interacted in a playful fight. Jumpy’s ears were tucked against her head, pointing back, and both cats were on their haunches batting at one another and. . . . Bumpy backed off first! Jumpy, seemingly self-assured now, stood her ground as he walked away. The owner commented, "This never ever happens!! Bumpy would have continued to intimidate until Jumpy cried and ran off."
I brought out two more essential oils. Bumpy came over and nudged one with his nose. This is how animals choose the EO that they innately know they need. I opened it and now both cats were very interested, so much so that I offered the vial to Bumpy and the cap to Jumpy. This was followed by more animating energy for both – it’s like I gave them catnip! Another play-fight erupted and Jumpy lay on her back and rolled around - something she would never have before done with Bumpy present. At one point, Jumpy’s tail was swishing quite close to Bumpy. He pawed at it, she rolled over to bat at him but he didn't pursue his normal aggressive behavior toward her. It was like Jumpy came into her own, and Bumpy knew he couldn't bully her anymore.
I then re-open the second oil I had introduced earlier and again it's like I gave Jumpy catnip. She became a cat again, running to the sofa and using that to jump onto the cat-condo. Bumpy followed and tried to swat her but she fought back and they interacted like this but always with Jumpy in charge. As I start putting their home-care package together, both cats went off to eat... in peace.
Owner feedback a few weeks later:
"It is so good to see my two cats respect each other. Jumpy is initiating play with Bumpy and when she is done, he lets her stop without attacking her. They sleep close to each other, peacefully. Jumpy is much more confident and doesn’t hide or run away as often as she used to."
Final note from practitioner Sonya Greyeyes:
"These past few months I’ve had the opportunity to watch an anxious horse become calm and to see the light return to his eyes, a dog being once again acknowledged as a ‘good dog’ when he had simply been misunderstood, another dog terrified of thunder and lightning who, after receiving a customized essential oil blend, is now at ease when storms arise, and these two cats playing with each other again. It is beautiful thing to be able to witness an animal change and transform back to their innate being. What a privilege and honour to be of service to animals that know what they need but require a bit of human help to achieve it."
Sonya can be reached at: Phone: 403-245-0441,and Email: firstname.lastname@example.org