Are Essential Oils Harmful for your Cat?

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For decades, people have been using aromatherapy and potpourri to spruce up their homes. We use essential oils to improve the scent in our homes. These oils are believed to be natural and safe for our use, but how do they affect our feline friends?

Cats and essential oils

A few years ago, researchers claimed that some essential oils were harmless and did not affect cats. They were even recommended as treatment for respiratory issues, ear mite infestations, and as an aid to relieve stress.

Over the years, more research was conducted which resulted in compelling evidence stating that cats are indeed affected by essential oils and certain oils can be toxic. When exposed to essential oils, a cat’s liver is affected, resulting in toxicity throughout the animal’s body. A cat’s liver is very different compared to a human’s. They do not have the ability to completely breakdown and metabolize the compounds found in essential oils.

Cats can become exposed to essential oil through either external or internal application. When a cat owner uses essential oils as room fresheners, their pets continuously and repeatedly inhale the oils over a long period of time. This can result in severe liver damage and, in some cases, death.

Besides toxic effects, certain essential oils can cause irritation, especially to your pet’s nasal canals. Cats have an incredibly powerful sense of smell and their noses are extremely sensitive. The essential oil you are using as a room freshener can smell lovely to your human nose, but your cat can find the fragrance overwhelming.

Which essential oils should you keep away from cats?

Your veterinarian will typically discourage you from using essential oils in your home if you have a cat. Certain oils do have medicinal properties and can be diluted to treat specific conditions under the vet’s supervision. If you are unsure, it is recommended that you avoid essential oils altogether. Some oils that are dangerous to cats include:

  • Lemon oil
  • Peppermint
  • Lavender oil
  • Tea tree oil
  • Melaleuca oil
  • Wintergreen oil
  • Cinnamon oil
  • Birch oil
  • Thyme oil

Oils that contain phenol and its derivatives are to be strictly kept away from cats. If ingested or topically applied, these oils can cause skin damage and seizures. Ensure that your cat is never exposed to essential oils in any way. If you notice that your cat has ingested an essential oil, take him to the veterinarian right away.

Safety tips on using essential oils around your cat

  1. Do not diffuse essential oils inside your home
  2. Do not pet or touch your cat if you have applied essential oils on your skin
  3. Store all types of essential oils our of your cat’s reach
  4. Do not apply these oils on any surface your cat may rub or lick
  5. If necessary, use essential oils with extreme precautionary measures

Consult with your veterinarian for more details on essential oils and how they could affect your feline companion.