Essential Oils & Cats – Do They Mix?

If you’ve ever experienced an aromatherapy treatment, you know how beneficial essential oils can be. While they may be wonderful for humans, they are not something you would ever want to expose your cat or any other pet to. They simply pose too many risks to their health.  

Here is what you need to know about how harmful they can be to your cat and the precautions you can take to keep your kitty safe.  

What makes essential oils so dangerous for cats?

The latest research has found that all essential oils pose a serious health risk to cats because cats do not have the specific enzymes needed to metabolize certain compounds in these oils, especially the phenols. Nearly all essential oils contain phenols as this is what makes them so aromatic.  

In the past, essential oils were often used to treat cats with respiratory issues, or to help relax an overly anxious cat. Essential oils were even used on cats to repel ear mites. However, the latest research shows that even topical use on cats can be harmful. Because cats have no way to metabolize them, exposure to essential oils can cause liver damage. In cases of substantial exposure, the liver can be very seriously damaged.   

Are any essential oils safe for cats?

No. All essential oils are harmful to cats. These are highly concentrated oils, so even the tiniest amount can have a toxic effect on cats and other pets. They all contain certain compounds that are dangerous for cats. All of them contain phenols or other toxic compounds that cats cannot metabolize. However, some oils are not as toxic as others.   

Which essential oils are considered most harmful to cats?

This is a list of the most dangerous essential oils for cats. To be 100% safe, we would advise you not to have any of these in your home. If you do decide you want them, make sure to keep them in a place that would be impossible for your cat to access. 

  • Cinnamon oil
  • Citrus oil 
  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Lemon oil
  • Pennyroyal oil
  • Peppermint oil 
  • Pine oil
  • Sweet birch oil
  • Tea tree (melaleuca) oil
  • Ylang ylang oil 

What symptoms of toxicity would my cat exhibit if exposed?

Unfortunately, the symptoms of essential oil toxicity are quite general, making it very hard to diagnose. Here is a list of the most common symptoms: 

  • Drooling
  • Respiratory problems (coughing, panting, rapid breathing and/or wheezing)
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting (the smell may indicate exposure to essential oils)
  • Wobbling or problems walking

If your cat is exhibiting any of these symptoms, immediately call your vet. This is an emergency, which means you must take your cat to the vet right away.  

Would it help to use an essential oil diffuser?

Unfortunately, there is no way to keep your cat from being exposed to essential oils if you’re using a diffuser. Although the oil would be safely kept inside, these devices have been known to malfunction and leak. This could be disastrous for your cat and possibly fatal. 

Now that you know how dangerous essential oils can be for cats, you understand the risks you take by having them in your home. This is especially true if your cat already suffers from some form of liver disease. However, if you still want to use essential oils for your own health, make sure to store them in a place that your cat has no way of accessing. The safest option would be to avoid having them in the home altogether. 

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