Are Essential Oils Toxic to Cats?: Everything You Need to Know

May 24, 2018

Are Essential Oils Toxic to Cats?: Everything You Need to Know

Aromatherapy is a natural and effective way of dealing with several problems.

Peppermint essential oil is excellent for migraines, Lavender is great for falling asleep, Ylang Ylang helps relieve anxiety and so on. While these essential oils are excellent for your health, they might not be so good for your kitty.

Some may even be toxic to your kitty!

In this blog post, I will answer the question, “Are essential oils toxic to cats?”along with a few things you should know.

Let’s begin, shall we?

Are Essential Oils Toxic to Cats?

Did you know that certain essential oils were considered to be safe for cats a few years ago?

Some were even recommended for uses such as treating upper respiratory problems, ear mite infestations, and even stress relief!

However, recent studies found compelling evidence about essential oils being toxic to cats. This includes taking them internally, applying them to your cat’s skin, or inhaling them.

The most affected organ by essential oils is the liver.

A cats' livers aren’t like that of humans'. Cats don’t have certain enzymes that allow them to be able to properly metabolize various compounds in essential oils. This is true for phenols in particular.

What are these phenols?

Phenols are compounds that occur naturally in some plants. These are highly concentrated in essential oils and exposure to them can cause to serious damage to the liver, seizures, liver failure, or even death in cats.

Essential Oils Toxic to Cats

Let’s take a look at some essential oils you need to steer clear of if you have a furry little friend running around the house.

Take a look:

  • Peppermint oil
  • Wintergreen oil
  • Pine oil
  • Citrus oil
  • Tea tree oil
  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Ylang ylang oil
  • Cinnamon oil
  • Sweet birch oil
  • Pennyroyal oil
  • Clove oil

The more highly the concentrated the essential oils, the greater the risk they pose to your kitty’s health.

Take your cat to the vet immediately if she ingests the oil accidentally.

Symptoms of Essential Oil Poisoning

Did you know that cats can absorb oils which are directly in contact with their skin? 

Cats also inhale the oils diffused in the air and they’re also collect on the fur. This can easily result in your kitty ingesting them while she’s cleaning and licking.

Toxicity can occur rather quickly or even during a longer period of exposure.

Symptoms of essential oil poisoning include:

  • Vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Drooling
  • Difficulty walking
  • wobbliness (ataxia)
  • Respiratory distress ( this includes coughing, fast breathing, wheezing, panting,)

If you notice any of these signs, you need to take your kitty to a veterinary emergency center. The vet may note low blood pressure, low heart rate, and signs of liver failure.

How Your Cat May Be Exposed to Essential Oils

it is now discouraged but, some people still treat their cats with essential oils for different problems.

If possible, you should only do this under the guidance of a veterinarian. Even in that case, you need to take some precautions to make sure that the oils you’re using are appropriately diluted and use the recommended concentration.

You need to be aware that the products often vary in concentration from what the label lists.

Your cat can also be exposed to the essential oils you use for your own purposes.

You need to make sure that you keep all your essential oils in a cat-proof cabinet so that your curious little furball doesn't have access to them. It is easy for your kitty to knock over potpourri pots or passive reed diffusers which may expose your kitty to the oil-containing liquid.

You shouldn’t allow your kitty to lick your skin if you have applied any product that contains essential oils.

Essential oil and aromatherapy candles, diffusers, liquid potpourri products, and even room sprays are a few sources of airborne essential oils which your cat can inhale or even lick off their fur.

If you can smell the fragrance of the oil, it means that the oil is in the air. So, it can affect your cat.

Kittens, elderly cats, or cats who have liver or respiratory problems should be kept out of any room where essential oil diffusers are used. Don't wear aromatherapy jewelry when you are around your cat.

Your Kitty’s Sense of Smell and Essential Oils

It is not just the scents' toxic that affects your cat, some scents can also irritate your kitty in other ways.

Cats and dogs have a stronger sense of smell than most humans do, which means that their noses are much more sensitive.

What may smell wonderful and amazing to you may be overwhelming to your cat. If you like to use home fragrances, it is important that you have a place which is completely scent-free so your cat can retreat when it gets too overpowering.

Are Hydrosols Safe?

Hydrosols are often known as a more safer and natural alternative to essential oils.

Also known asflower waters, Hydrosols are less saturated than essential oils. They are basically the water that remains behind after you steam-distill the flowers or herbs in water.

Hydrosols are safer for use on the human skin because they don’t have to be diluted but, they are still dangerous for cats and other pets. This water can hold on to the residual matter from plants which can be toxic if your pet inhales it or ingests it.

Some pets may be able to tolerate hydrosols, but others may be more sensitive.

It’s good to be on a safer side and try to limit your pet's access to them and the scents to minimize the risk of any health problems.

Aromatherapy is an effective way of managing your stress and other problems, however, essential oils can be toxic to cats.

You need to take all the precautions you can to protect your pet and keep them away from harmful essential oils.

Final Words: Are Essential Oils Toxic to Cats?

While not all essential oils are unsafe, some may be downright toxic to your kitty.

It is important for you to make sure that you know all the essential oils that are unsafe for your feline friend and not bring them home. Aromatherapy is quite effective for humans, however, it can be fatal for your cat.

So, what should you do?

Make sure that you keep away everything after using it. Use the diffuser in a room where your cat isn’t around, and store things in a cat-proof area.

Do you have questions? Leave them in the comments, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

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