If you have a kitten who is easily anxious and nervous, it will take a lot of patience to form a trusting bond. A milk protein supplement can help.
When Lilli Greber gets a visit from her boyfriend, the cat Merlin hides under the sofa. He only comes out again when Lilli’s friend has been gone for at least half an hour. It’s the same with the neighbors’ children. As soon as they enter the apartment, there is no trace of Merlin. Living with an anxious cat is challenging for animal lovers.
Greber adopted Merlin a year and a half ago. Before that, he was in an animal shelter. The behavior of the kitten, whose early life history Greber does not know, has always caused her grief and uncertainty. Should she just stop receiving visitors, so as not to frighten Merlin too much? That was out of the question for the cat friend. In her search for a solution, she tried outpatient, loving training and preparation that repeatedly gives hope to cat owners and dog lovers when the animals are anxious and nervous. It’s a compound called Zylkène that’s available as a supplementary feed for dogs and cats. In internet forums and animal lovers’ roundtables, many pet owners swear by the excellent effect.
The idea of the preparation is based on the old wisdom that milk has a calming effect on small children. This effect is attributed to a specific compound in milk protein called alpha-capsazepine. In the first few weeks of life, not only babies but also kittens and puppies have an enzyme in their bodies that metabolizes a particularly large amount of alpha-casozepine from the milk protein. This mechanism provides reassurance. The effect decreases with age, but it does not disappear completely. Evidently, the effectiveness varies from person to person. The Zylkène capsules contain exactly this soothing substance from the milk protein.
Two Key Benefits
Men, noise, or the vet – reasons for fears are manifold and mostly to be found in the early childhood of a cat. Fear of people is particularly widespread. The reason for this can be, for example, a bad experience in the first year of life of the cat. This can often be seen in very specific things, such as the cat always panicking at the sight of a person with a broom, people in boots, or people in hats. Also interesting: In general, cats are more afraid of men and children, while they develop a trusting bond with women more easily. Scientists suspect that the animals tend to classify the intentions of a deep male voice as unpleasant. The more common fear of children may be related to their unpredictability, boisterous movements, and loudness.
If the fear of people is rather unspecific, the cat may have had too little pleasant contact with people during its childhood socialization, maybe none at all. This is always the case with farm cats when they are born somewhere in a stable or barn. Then, in many cases, the mother also has a shy nature. That’s why she teaches her offspring to be wary of people, not to be easily petted, and to keep their distance.
As with Merlin, the causes cannot always be worked out, but that is exactly why it is important to approach the therapy as broadly as possible. The combination of behavioral therapy plus Zylkène has been around in veterinary medicine for a long time. With astonishing successes – which can happen, but don’t have to. “Some animals are very helped by Zylkène’s support, while others don’t respond to it,” reports Maya Bräm, a veterinarian and specialist in behavioral medicine at the Animal Hospital of the University of Zurich. In any case, there are two decisive advantages: “Because you can open the capsules and add the contents to the food, cats generally accept the product well. This is very helpful. And there are basically no side effects at all.”
As a Cure Over Eight Weeks
A reassuring statement for pet owners. Studies of the active ingredient led to the conclusion that it can actually protect against an excessive release of stress hormones. In examined laboratory situations, milk protein even has anxiolytic properties like diazepam (known under the brand name Valium) – and all without any unpleasant side effects. A study with cats that were afraid of strangers came to the following conclusion: after two weeks of taking milk protein, the velvet paws’ fear was significantly reduced.
The manufacturer recommends using Zylkène for unfamiliar situations such as changes in the environment, travel, growing family, moving in a new pet, or fireworks. The milk protein should be given for the first time about three to four days before the event, but can also be given as a course of treatment over six to eight weeks in animals that are generally anxious. The effective milk protein is not only available in capsules, but also from various manufacturers and incorporated into feed such as Royal Canin Calm for cats. The veterinarian is the first point of contact when deciding on a preparation.
Greber and Merlin were able to make great progress with a combination of behavioral therapy and milk protein. First, the cat owner prepared a cave as a retreat for Merlin. Her friend was instructed to begin by moving slowly around the apartment, using soft, quiet words. Greber was soon able to lure Merlin out of hiding with the help of a toy rod. The cat hasn’t escaped three times in a row when the guest came into the house. The best conditions, then, for the two to become friends soon.