Can I Use Essential Oils Around My Cat?

Can I Use Essential Oils Around My Cat?

If your cat is showing any signs of essential oil poisoning, including lethargy or weakness, drooling, vomiting, tremors, respiratory distress or difficulty walking, please call your veterinarian or the 24/7 Pet Poison Helpline (800-213-6680) immediately.

Kadarius Seegars

Essential oils can offer all kinds of benefits, from reducing stress and improving sleep to making your home smell a spa. Before trying new home fragrances or aromatherapy products however, it’s important to be aware of their health risks to pets and use them with caution.

Here are some tips to consider before using essential oils in a home with cats. Make sure to consult with your veterinarian before using any essential oils around animals as every pet might react differently.

Avoid oils that are toxic to cats

The toxicity level of an essential oil depends on a few factors, such as the type of oil, concentration, method of use, amount of exposure, and the cat’s individual sensitivities. Very young kittens and cats with asthma or heart disease, for example, are especially susceptible to the dangers of essential oils. Generally, the higher the concentration, the more dangerous an essential oil is to your pet. The most serious risk for cats exposed to essential oils is the development of breathing issues or liver failure, both of which can be fatal.

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association lists the following essential oils as poisonous to cats (this list is non-exhaustive and is organized alphabetically, not in order of toxicity):

  • Bergamot (Citrus bergamia; Citrus Aurantium)
  • Bitter almond (Peumus boldus)
  • Calamus essential oil (Acorus calamus)
  • Cinnamon
  • Clary Sage
  • Clove (Syzgium aromaticum)
  • Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus spp.)
  • European Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)
  • Geranium oil (Pelargonium sp.)
  • Horseradish (Amoracia rusticana)
  • Japanese yew (Taxus spp.)
  • Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia)
  • Lemon oil (Citrus Lemonia) citronella
  • Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)
  • Lime oils (Citrus aurantifolia)
  • Mustard
  • Orange oils (Citrus sinensis)
  • Oregano (Origanum vulgare hirtum)
  • Pennyroyal; American false pennyroyal (Haedeoma pulegioides)
  • Pine, spruce, juniper oils
  • Rose
  • Rosemary
  • Sandalwood
  • Sassafras
  • Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
  • Thyme
  • Wintergreen, peppermint, spearmint, mint (Mentha sp.)
  • Wormseed
  • Ylang Ylang

Keep essential oils out of reach

We all know cats have a knack for getting into the one thing we don’t want them to get into! Make sure to keep your oil bottles and diffuser out of kitty’s reach at all times, ideally in a room they can’t access, to prevent any accidents. Oil bottles should be tightly closed and clean.

Note that any essential oil can harm your cat if they ingest it or it is absorbed through their skin. For this reason, oils should never be applied directly onto your cat. If you’re dabbing an oil on your wrists, allow the scent to fade before interacting with your cat to prevent them from licking the spot or the oil transferring onto their fur.

Use oils sparingly

If you do plan on using essential oils around your cats, it’s safest to use them in moderation. Vitruvi recommends turning off your diffuser before leaving your pets at home unsupervised, in case they become agitated by the fumes while you’re away. Opting for a diffuser with a timer setting is a good way to limit its usage to short periods.

Make sure your space is well-ventilated

Diffusing oils in a poorly ventilated area increases the risk that your cat will inhale harmful fumes. When using essential oils, always open a window to ensure adequate air flow. If you’re using a diffuser in a room that’s temporarily off-limits to your cat, it’s still important the space is well-ventilated in case the fumes linger after the diffuser is turned off.

Keep an eye on kitty

As always, be mindful of your pets’ behaviour. If your cat shows any signs of essential oil poisoning, including lethargy or weakness, drooling, vomiting, tremors, respiratory distress or difficulty walking, call your vet or the 24/7 Pet Poison Helpline (800-213-6680) immediately.

Remember: you can’t be too safe!

These tips can be used as a starting point when considering using essential oils at home, but ultimately, if you’re worried about using essential oils safely around your cats, it’s always best to stray on the side of caution and avoid using them at home altogether. After all, our cats are our babies and their health and safety is what matters the most!

Jan Kopřiva

What’s the purrfect cat-approved alternative to aromatherapy? Catnip therapy! For pure cat-friendly fun that kitty can enjoy to their heart’s content, spoil them with to a monthly meowbox of toys and treats.

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