Essential Oils for Cats: An Important Safety Guide

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calico smelling essential oils for cats

People are going GaGa for essential oils nowadays. They’re looking to these remedies for themselves and their furry friends. Many pet owners have researched the safety of essential oils for dogs… but what about our feline friends? Read on to learn all you need to know about the safe uses of essential oils for cats!

First Things First: What are Essential Oils

In a scientific nutshell, an essential oil is a concentrated hydrophobic (doesn’t mix with water) liquid that is extracted from pretty much any plant on the planet. 
Essential oils come in various forms and are extracted in different ways. What’s important to know is that this liquid essentially (no pun intended) contains the medicinal or homeopathic properties of plants in a very concentrated form.

Essential Oils and Pets: Essential Oils and Cats Don’t Always Go Well Together! 

Yes, essential oils are amazing. Humans have been making use of the medicinal properties of plants for a very, very long time. People still use them today. We use them for aromatherapy (think of adding a few drops of lavender oil to your bath), to soothe muscle aches (think arnica oil), or cure anything from bacterial/fungal infections to head lice (think tea tree oil).

Here comes the “however”. Just because they are amazing and safe for humans to use, does not mean they are (all) safe for our cats and dogs. Some natural oils are downright simply toxic to our furkids. Think pet poison. Others are dangerous to use on them if they are used incorrectly! Essential oil safety is so important!

Essential Oils: Bad for Cats or Nature’s Answer to Healing Mittens? 

For a long time, people were using essential oils on their cats and thought it was the absolute best way of healing their kitties or getting rid of mites or fleas on cats. Turns out, there is a long list of essential oils that are poisonous for cats. Toxicity and adverse reactions are common when people use these oils that are toxic to cats.

Certain oils contain compounds which cats can’t metabolize, meaning that their livers bare the brunt. Cats don’t have the liver enzymes that can break down these hydrosols, even with a topical application on their skin.

Phenols are one of these dangerous compounds. Different oils are made up up different compounds however, so not all are as bad as others.

Are There Essential Oils for Fleas on Cats? 

SOME forms of essential oils have been tried and tested and are safe for kitties. When buying a product containing essential oils, read the label! A product like NatureVet’s Flea Powder for Cats has the right essential oils at the right (and safe) concentrations!

Even when deemed safe, you have to ask your veterinarian whether these products containing essential oils for pets are safe to use.

NaturVet Herbal Flea Powder for Pets with Essential Oils Cat Powder
Help stop fleas in their tracks with NaturVet’s Herbal Flea Powder! This formula is crafted in the USA with essential oils from thyme, lemongrass and rosemary and helps repel fleas while leaving behind a pleasant fragrance. Sprinkle it directly on your cat or use it on her bedding, pillows, blankets and cat condo. NaturVet’s Herbal Flea Powder is so gentle, it can even be used on kittens after weaning who are six weeks of age and older. Use it as often as needed to help combat fleas and deodorize your cat and her belongings!
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List of Essential Oils Safe for Cats

Remember, when we use the word “safe”, we mean that they are deemed safe for cats when used in the right way.

  • Cedarwood Oil
  • Lemongrass Oil
  • Rosemary Oil

What Essential Oils are Bad for Cats?

Toxic Essential Oils! Whether topically or systemically, this is a list of essential oils which you should avoid:

  • Peppermint oil
  • Melaleuca oil aka Tea tree oil
  • Cinnamon oil
  • Wintergreen oil
  • Sweet Birch oil
  • Citrus Oils (Citrus Aurantifolia)
  • Clove Oil
  • Pine Oil
  • Eucalyptus Oil
  • Pennyroyal Oil
  • Ylang ylang Oil

Again, this is not to say that each and every one of the oils on this list are toxic to cats, we’re just saying that you should stay away from these oils unless you know exactly what you are doing.

image of essential oils bad for cats

Double Check the List of Essential Oils Toxic to Cats! 

Double, triple, quadruple check the list. Doctor Google does NOT have all the answers. Especially not the factual information with the science to back it up. If you absolutely want to know what is safe for Mittens, stay away from a simple “Google Search”. There is this wonderful version of Google called “Google Scholar”.

If using natural alternatives to pharmaceuticals is important to you, put in the time and research the studies (if there are any)!

Diffusing Essential Oils Around Cats: What You Need to Know 

People love essential oil diffusers. They are very “now”. People love the healing and calming effects of inhaling those wonderful scents. But if you’re inhaling it, then so is your cat. This goes for liquid potpourri, air fresheners, all other nebulizing diffusers.

A cat’s respiratory system is very sensitive to essential oils. It’s best not to use certain oils in a diffuser in a room where Mittens hangs out.

Is Lavender Safe for Cats? 

Fresh lavender? Nope, not toxic to cats. Cats will probably avoid the plant anyway, so no need to worry about it too much. Lavender essential oil is another story. You can definitely still add it to your bath for some serious relaxation, but keep it away from your cat.

Is Peppermint Oil Safe for Cats?

No. Absolutely not. Remember those Phenol compounds we spoke about? Well, peppermint oil contains phenols, which are toxic to cats (and dogs). Peppermint oil is one of the most amazing essential oils for humans. You can use it on yourself to your heart’s desire. Just keep it away from Fido and Mittens.

What Essential Oils are Safe to Diffuse Around Cats?

It’s better not to diffuse anything around cats. If you put a diffuser with natural oils in a certain room and keep your cat out of it all should be fine.

cat smelling diffuser wondering are essential oils safe for cats

Some Essential Oils for Cats are Great: If You Use Them Correctly! 

This article is not aimed to scare you into believing that no essential oil can ever be safe to use around your cat. We simply want to make sure that cat parents understand the potential dangers of giving essential oils to cats or using them topically.

There are many potential dangers, but there are also health benefits of certain oils when used correctly!

Common Questions on Essential Oils for Cats

Can I rub peppermint oil on my cat’s chest when it has a cold?

Is there a product with natural oils that gets rid of fleas on cats?

Is it safe to use a diffuser with oils near a cat?

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