Supporting Your Cat's Healing Through Self-Selection Principles

In this guest blog, Julie-Anne Thorne, Holistic Cat Therapist from Naturally Cats, shares the importance of self-selection principles and how best to offer herbs to cats.

Why offer herbs to your cat?

People are generally familiar with how cats can be drawn to catnip. Some will go crazy and start tearing around the house, yet others zone out and become super chill. Did you know that how a cat works with catnip will affect how they react to it? If inhaled, it will produce a stimulating effect and the cat will go a little crazy. If ingested, it will produce a sedative effect and is likely to calm the cat. 

I’ve been working with cats for over 15 years, and training in cat self-selection was a pivotal point for me. Realizing that every single cat has the innate ability to choose what they need to heal, if given the opportunity. We offer catnip to cats usually in the form of it being put inside toys or using it in a spray, but offering the actual dried herb can be powerful and healing for cats.

Humans have domesticated the cat species, bringing them into our homes and having them co-exist with us. This means that sadly many cats have lost the opportunity to select for themselves what they need to heal. For example, a feral, or outdoor cat, may choose to brush past a rose bush to release the scent molecules. They may decide to eat a particular plant or root if they need support internally. This is one of the main reasons I am passionate about educating and supporting cat guardians to understand how putting down dried herbs and flowers can support the balance and well-being of your cat. 

How can dried herbs help?

We know that for humans, Peppermint tea can soothe an upset tummy and that Chamomile tea can help reduce stress or anxiety. This is exactly the same for cats! The healing properties of flowers and plants have been used for many years.

By presenting safe, dried herbs and flowers to your cat, you are giving them a choice in how they deal with their environment. They can then use self-selection principles to engage with the herbs and flowers in a way that best suits their unique needs. Giving them back an element of control over their surroundings can help to reduce stress and anxiety for our cats, enabling them to thrive rather than simply survive in their territory. 

Naturally Cats Dried Herb Gardens are available for 10 common use cases:

How to offer dried remedies:

I use the term herb garden to explain how to offer dried remedies to cats. Here are some simple steps to follow when offering a Naturally Cats Herb Garden to your own cat:

  1. Find a quiet place in the home where the cat won’t be disturbed and there isn’t a lot of foot traffic.
  2. Put down a clean towel or blanket. Large enough for the cat to sit on, but use one per cat.
  3. Put a good-sized pinch of a herb/flower in each corner of the blanket. 
  4. Sit back and let your cat investigate and enjoy the remedies. 
  5. Leave the garden down for at least a week
  6. Top up remedies as/when needed

Don’t panic if your cat ingests the remedies – they are taking exactly what they need. All herbs in the Naturally Cats Herb Gardens are safe to ingest.

Trust your cat and the power of self-selection. They know what they need to heal. 

Which remedies to offer?

The reason I recommend using dried herbs and flowers is that their energy is very light and subtle – perfect for our sensitive cats. There is no risk of a toxic reaction because the chemical make up of the dried flower or plant is different than the fresh version. As long as you allow the cat to choose which remedies they want to work with, there is no danger of an adverse reaction. 

These are a few of my favourite remedies, how they help and what I use them for:

Angelica Root

Opens the cat up to healing.

All cats!


Boosts self-confidence and reduces inflammation.

Nervous cats, those in a new home or environment. 


Soothes the digestive tract and settles an upset tummy.

Cats suffering from vomiting or diarrhea 


Calming and cooling on the body, heart and mind.

Stressed, nervous, anxious cats.


Warms the body and heart space, helps to fight infection. 

Immune compromised cats.


Reduces testosterone and aggression.

Multi-cat homes.


Nurturing and emotionally supportive.

Reactive or nervous cats.


Balancing and reassuring. 

All cats!

Valerian Root

Relieves stress, anxiety and physical pain.

Anxious cats.


Helps to heal emotional wounds and boosts the immune system. 

Cats that have had trauma.

What to expect:

Just like humans, cats are individuals and will react in different ways to the herbs and flowers. Some typical behaviors you might see:

  • Rubbing and rolling around on the herbs
  • Getting tied up in the blanket and putting the herbs everywhere!
  • Sitting near, next to, or on the herbs
  • Licking of lips, big yawns and slow eye blinks when around the remedies
  • Swallowing or ingestion of the remedy
  • Sleeping, deep breathing or relaxed pose near/on the remedies 

Not all cats will get the ‘zoomies’ and go crazy with the herbs. It takes a lot for cats to open up to the healing properties of the remedies. 

As they are both a predator and prey animal, it can take a while for cats to be vulnerable and enjoy the herbs. Don’t panic if your cat does nothing with the garden for a day or so. Be patient and know they will use the remedies as and when they need to. 

I hope you have enjoyed the blog. Feel free to reach out and connect with Naturally Cats, we’d love to hear from you.

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