The Story of River

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Natural Healing Tips for a Shelter Cat

On June 6, 2009, a slip of a cat with not much life left in her was brought into an Ontario high-kill shelter. Since shelters assign cats with temporary names, this little girl was named River. Being both a black cat and sickly, she was likely to be marked for death soon.

By some miracle a friend of mine, who was volunteering at the time as a cat rescuer, had a dream about a black cat called River. The next morning she checked the shelter’s website and saw that same black cat that had been brought in the previous day. Equally remarkable, a striking connection between River and me became evident.

My friend arranged to get her out straightaway. Soon after, she brought her to my place. As we sat and talked, River curled up on the couch with us. It was like she was finally home. Little did I know the long journey of healing that lay ahead. The damage River had suffered quickly began manifesting in various physical ailments and emotional states. As always, I turned to natural healing first.

KENNEL COUGH – River had the tail end of a cold when she came to me and had been on antibiotics. Concerned that the drugs had weakened her system, I chose to use an effective, non-toxic remedy for her cold. I prepared a dilution of oregano oil (one drop in a large bowl of water, then further diluted by pouring half the water into a new bowl and filling it with more water). This incredible oil has been described as an antiseptic, antibiotic, antiviral, antifungal, anti-parasitic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, immune modulator and pain killer. After a few days, her cold disappeared and she became more lively.

ACUTE ANXIETY AND FEAR – The first time I went out and left River alone, I was unable to find her when I returned. When I did uncover her hiding place, she ran to me, meowing. This told me she was terrified of being abandoned again. Had I consulted a vet, Prozac may have been prescribed. Instead, I used a small dose of Bach’s Rescue Remedy mixed in her water every day. Within a few weeks, her anxiety symptoms subsided.

SCARY BOWEL MOVEMENTS – Next came the alarming bouts of diarrhea, with blood in it. Since River was otherwise eating normally, drinking, sleeping and even being energetic, I decided to do a few simple things first:

1) I changed her dry food to wet holistic food (Wellness) and stirred in a small amount of digestive enzymes; I also added a capful of Bragg’s organic apple cider vinegar to her water bowl.

2) I began learning how and where River liked to be massaged and brushed. This was good for lowering her stress, which in turn helped her digestive system, and her overall health.

3) Playing “cat and mouse” with River has been an amazing healing tool. But I have to make it realistic or she’s unimpressed. That means getting down on the floor and squiggling some appropriate object under a mat until she pounces on it. About five minutes in the a.m., and five in the p.m., has now become routine for us. It perks her up, satiating her natural hunter instincts, and gives her exercise.

Within about two weeks, my kitty was much more sprightly, her stool was normal, and her coat was sleek and shiny (one of apple cider vinegar’s many benefits).

Seven months later, she is a changed feline. Flowing with energy, her personality and health has blossomed; she’s more confident and comfortable in her own paws and her eyes are as enigmatic and soulful as the deepest river. I may have helped save her, but River gives me great gifts every day. She makes me laugh. Her purrs are as soothing as Mozart. And, among other things, she reminds me that all life deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Alternative healing has played a major role in her transformation.

[…a nation’s] moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated  (Ghandi)

(Editor’s note: One brand of digestive enzymes for pets that I like is Probiotic 8 Plus by Omega Alpha. It contains 8 strains of probiotics, 6 types of digestive enzymes, and an additional 8 herbs and nutrients. Find it at selected health food stores and pet stores. For more information visit:

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