About a month ago, my very sweet cat, Leo, came home with a serious wound on his tail: It was an open, bloody, angry sore. His tail was swollen and extremely tender to touch. The wound looked deep. I took him to the vet because I wanted to make sure there was no foreign material stuck in the wound, plus, I wanted to see what kind of medical care they could offer Leo.
The cone didn’t last even one day. He screamed, moaned, and tore that cone off his head like a wild cat. He had fear and panic in his eyes – how to do you explain the purpose of a cone to a cat?! I know that stress compromises immunity, so I removed the cone. He instantly calmed down, curled up in a ball, and slept. I know that resting, especially deep rest, engages the parasympathetic nervous system which is the part of a nervous system that encourages healing.
After one day of antibiotics, he developed diarrhea and began looking weak and sick. The spark in his eyes began to dim. I was terrified. That’s when I stopped everything I was doing and really asked myself: What the heck am I doing? Here I am with literally thousands of herbs and homeopathic remedies in my apothecary and nearly daily I deal with these kinds of first aid situations in my clinic (albeit with humans) why not apply my skills to my sweet cat?
The reason I didn’t first apply my skills of natural healthcare are because: 1) I was alarmed at how serious the wound looked, plus I have no veterinary training 2) it’s difficult to assess loved ones from a distance and think rationally
I took a breath, emotionally distanced myself for a moment, and pulled out the remedies I would use for a person. Here’s what I did:
*Disclaimer: Please note that Seraphina Capranos is not a veterinarian nor does she have any animal herbal or homeopathic training. The information below is not intended to be distributed as medical/veterinary advice. Should you have an injured animal in your care, please consult with a veterinarian.*
1. First, I simmered the herb Usnea in a small saucepan with water. The proportions were about one small handful of Usnea to 2 cups of water. I simmered it until it was rich in colour – a dark brown/black (about 30 mins). Usnea is a Lichen (often confused for moss) that grows abundantly here where I live. If I didn’t have Usnea so readily at hand, I’d use dried or fresh calendula blossoms. Usnea is a potent anti-microbial and wound healer.
I then soaked a cotton cloth in the very-warm-almost-hot liquid and applied the hot compress to his tail. He squeaked at first, for about a second, then calmed as if he loved the feeling. I held him in my arms with the compress around his tail until it became lukewarm. About four minutes.
I reserved the remaining liquid in a jar. I used this to apply hot compresses twice a day.
2. I gave him one dose of homeopathic Ledum twice daily, morning and evening. Ledum is a great first aid remedy for puncture wounds. I suspect Leo was bitten by another cat, or raccoon. Ledum encourages the immune system to protect against infection plus it encourages new healthy cell growth.
I applied Ledum for three days in total.
3. In one ounce of hot water, I placed 5 drops of Echinacea tincture and 5 drops of Alder tincture. The hot water is to burn off the bite of alcohol. Once it cooled to warm, using a dropper, I squirted 1/2 dropper of this solution into his mouth. He was impressively compliant. I curled him in my lap, stuck the dropper into his mouth, and released the solution. This all took maybe 2 seconds. He didn’t even blink. Nor did he seemingly react to the taste (it’s pretty bitter).
I applied the Echinacea and Alder tinctures twice daily. Both of these herbs are powerfully anti-infective. If I didn’t have Alder, I would have just used Echinacea.
4. The wound was quite wet and bloody. He wouldn’t let me wrapped it in gauze or anything I would do for a human. But I had the instinct to put something on it to protect it. I have a nice big fresh aloe plant. So I opened a stalk of fresh aloe and applied the inner gel to his wound twice a day. Surprisingly, he let me do this even though the wound was very tender. I just had to be extremely gentle.
– Usnea hot compresses twice a day
– homeopathic Ledum twice a day (for only three days)
– Echinacea & Alder tinctures Twice a day
– Aloe gel (fresh) Twice a day
None of this took much time. I simmered the Usnea just once and then had the reserve to warm as needed. I did the entire protocol before his meals (morning and evening) and around the time I was also preparing my meals so he was sure to be around (he follows me to the kitchen!).
He’s an outdoor cat, and the hardest decision to make was to still let him go outside. I tried keeping him in for the first two days as per the vet’s recommendation. But honestly, he cried so intensely I feel like that just added to the stress he was under. So I let him have his usual routine which I think put him at peace. To my relief, he instinctively wanted to spend more time in the house sleeping and staying warm.
Within one day of removing the antibiotics and applying the homeopathics and herbs, his mood perked and diarrhea subsided. To my delight, his tail healed beautifully within four weeks! Each day it looked better and better. Within one day the inflammation subsided, within a few days it wasn’t so sensitive to touch, and the sore looked less angry. The healing process was uneventful, with no setbacks. He did continually lick, and, even though the vet may not agree with me, my sense is the natural enzymes from his saliva helped the healing. He naturally stopped licking the wound once it healed over.
I learned that just like humans, animals really need the security of their daily routine especially when they are vulnerable or not feeling well. The stress of the unknown (trips to the vet even if necessary, not being able to go outside etc) can be very compromising, which is even more difficult because I couldn’t really explain to Leo why staying in and away from the possible bully might be a good idea.
I kept a close watch not only on the wound, but his entire well-being. I made sure his eyes were bright and alert as they usually are, I watched to make sure his appetite and behaviour were normal. If at any point his behaviour or well-being seemed off or diminished, I would have brought him back to the Vet for an examination. But I felt very confident in the care I offered because I watched him only get better.
Have you used natural medicine for the animals in your life? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!