Some people have an addiction to alcohol, others to cocaine or shopping or television. Aaron and I are addicted to animals. No joke. We adore them, are besotted by them and long to spend a lot of our life connecting and communing with them be they household pets or wild creatures. We once spent 5 days in Canada sleeping with an Arctic Wolf. At other times, in Africa, we romped with baby lions in the bush. There is no question that our addiction will never be cured. When it comes to any animals we adore them...yes even rats and sharks although we don’t allow either of these amazing species to live in our home. We have always our homes with some of the best domestic creatures—cats and dogs.
Dogs have long been the great protectors of the home. Cats bring us a sense of mystery and enchantment. They never forget that they were worshipped in Ancient Egypt and that they honour your home with their sacred presence. Introduce herbs into the lives of your pets and well-chosen plants share in the cleansing, enhancing and blessing of your beloved animal friends. For many years we had two Bearded Collies called Sunshine and Moonbeam. Now we live with and two Burmese cats called Gus Winterbear and Grizabella Starfire who grace our lives with love and affection, warmth—and the odd flea or two.
INTO THE BATH
Our dogs were long-haired. We found we had to bathe them regularly to discourage fleas. I always used a mild, tea tree shampoo and tried to keep each dog in the water for ten minutes to drown the fleas (not easy with Moonbeam!). Finally I gave each dog a rinse with eucalyptus tea. Fleas can’t stand the smell.
How To Make Eucalyptus Tea
Put 4 tablespoons of dried eucalyptus leaves into a teapot and cover with 2 cups of boiling water. Leave to steep until cool and strain.
Alternatively you can add 20 drops of tea tree oil or eucalyptus oil to a pint of water in a spray bottle then mist your dog being sure to protect their eyes and noses.
I even make my own flea powder and dust the dogs and their favourite sleeping places with it regularly.
Leslie’s Homemade Flea Powder
Mix 1 cup of diatomaceous earth with 2 tablespoons of citronella oil, 4 tablespoons of eucalyptus oil and 4 tablespoons of orange oil. Store in an airtight container. Shake over each animal and rub into their fur.
For all the talk about how tough dogs are supposed to be. When you get down to it every dog, big and small, is a comfort-loving animal who hates fleas. I make flea repelling herb pillows for my dogs’ beds. I stuff an old pillow case with herbs and sew it up. I then slip this pillow inside another old pillow case as they get dirty quite quickly and I like to change them often. I always include pennyroyal in my doggy mix. Its Latin name is Mentha pulegium, pulegium coming from pulex (flea) in Latin. The name for the main chemical constituent in pennyroyal is pulegone. All of which proves that chemists do sometimes have a sense of humour.
When choosing herbs for your dog’s pillow remember that their noses are much more sensitive than ours. You don’t want to overwhelm them. There are times when this can be put to good use, however. Rubbing a little clove oil on the legs of furniture will discourage puppies from chewing them – but check somewhere inconspicuous that the clove oil won’t damage your furniture or you will be back to square one.
What To Use In A Herb Pillow
Liberally stuff an old pillow case with one of the following herbs, whole and dried, or a mix of equal parts of two or all three of them. As dogs lie on them and crush the herbs it releases more of the flea-repelling scent. Try a mixture of:
It’s not quite so easy with cats. Their saintly heritage makes them sensitive to strong smells, or anything that might dent their superior composure. Herbs like rue and pennyroyal which repel fleas also repel cats. I have found that some cats don’t mind camomile so I put a little in my cats’ pillows and mix in some catmint or valerian. Just about every cat I have ever met goes mad for valerian. To my nose it smells like the wet socks of soldiers who have been marching through swamps for a week. But, out of love for Winter Bear and Starfire, I make a few extra herb sachets with this mixture and scatter them in my linen cupboard where they love to while the day away.
A note about catmint. There is an old saying that cats take little notice of the plants that grow from seeds sown straight into the garden. But when you raise the seed indoors, or buy some plants, and them transplant them into the garden the cats will literally love it to death. I have never tested this theory scientifically. I find that my cats chew the plant no matter how I grow it.
Herb Pillows for Cats
As these pillows are smaller than dog pillows I suggest crumbling up the dried herbs. Use a mixture of:
camomile and catmint, or
camomile and valerian
Ear mites are a common problem in cats. They are irritating for them and for you. Dribbling a few drops of garlic oil (peel a whole bulb of garlic, steep it for a week in 2 pints of olive oil, strain, bottle the oil and keep it in the fridge) into the ear twice a day will help enormously. Stop if your cat is made unhappy by the smell.
If, however, you have a young female being courted by the local tom cat and you don’t want kittens, try putting a few drops of essential oil of garlic on the back of the female’s neck. Her suitor is likely to be put right off his stride.