cats and essential oils

Cats and Essential Oils

cats and essential oils

Our beloved feline companions are very different from most of the other animals under our care. In particular they metabolize and excrete very differently to the rest of us. Their livers do not have a certain enzyme called glucuronyl transferase that humans and dogs have. This enzyme is required in order to be able to metabolize and eliminate some constituents of essential oils. When the cat’s body does not recognize a certain substance, it will store it, until it knows what to do with it. This leads to toxicity. Therefore, it is very important that we familiarize ourselves with which oils are safe for cats and which oils are not safe.

The Dog Oilier explains: “Cats are sensitive to a group of oxygenated compounds called ketones, phenols, alpha pinene, some monoterpenes and carvacrol (a byproduct of d-limonene which is found in all citrus fruits and in many tree oils) which their livers cannot break down.” Therefore, Melaleuca (Tee Tree) and all citrus oils are toxic to cats.

Dilution vs Topical Application – what the experts say:

Dr Janet Roark shares with us that the safest way to share essential oils with our cats is through diffusion, using a few drops of oil in 100-200 diffused drops of water rather than applying oils topically to cats.

If you do want to apply topically, make sure that you are diluting heavily. This should be our number one guiding rule when it comes to our animals, especially the very small ones!

Dr Roark recommends the follow dilution ratio:

1 drop of essential oil to 100 drops of carrier oil. Always start out diluting more than less. Carrier oils to use can be fractionated coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, almond oil, etc.

Dr Roark goes on to say: “This helps keeps cats from being overexposed to the very potent oils and their powerful effects.”

Be sure to always leave a door or window open, so your cat is free to leave should they wish to.

Important Safety Recommendations:

The below is a list from Dr Roark stating some safety guidelines that must be adhered to;

  • Dilute for topical use (100 drops carrier oil to 1 drop essential oil)
  • Know your pet’s health status.
  • Do not use oils near eyes, ears, nose or genitals of your pet.
  • Use a water diffuser for aromatic use and allow your pet to roam freely with an open door to the room.
  • Caution should be used around animals that are pregnant, nursing, young, or on certain medications.
  • Do not use oils topically on your pet if using a topical medication or dermal patch, this includes topical flea/ tick preventatives.
  • Do not give any products containing xylitol to your pet.
  • Only use Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils.
  • Observe your pet’s behavior.
  • In the event of adverse reaction, dilute with a carrier oil. Skin irritation is the most common and most reactions resolve within 24-48 hours after oil exposure. Discontinue use of an oil if your pet shows signs of distress such as drooling, squinting, rubbing their face, vocalization, shaking, vomiting or diarrhea.

Oils to avoid for cats;

  • Melaleuca (Tea Tree)
  • Eucalyptus
  • Lemon
  • Grapefruit
  • Lime
  • Bergamot
  • Orange
  • Tangerine
  • Clove
  • Oregano
  • Cinnamon
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Wintergreen
  • Birch
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Basil
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Vetiver
  • Petitgrain
  • Cypress
  • Peppermint
  • Spearmint
  • Rosemary

Symptoms of Toxicity in cats;

  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Ataxia (wobbliness)
  • Respiratory distress
  • Low heart rate
  • Low body temperature
  • Liver failure.

If your cat shows any of these signs take them immediately to the vet.

Remember that if you are diffusing any of the above oils in your home or you are wearing them topically, please keep a window or door open, so you cat is free to leave. Take care at night if you are diffusing a certain oil for yourself in your bedroom, don’t let your cat sleep with you.

Always use Therapeutic Grade Essential oils, organic carrier oils and a high-quality water-based diffuser.

Cleaning Products

Please also note that if you are making your own essential oil cleaning products, lemon is often an ingredient and because it belongs to the citrus family it may be harmful to your cats. Going green and using natural products is a wonderful way to keep your home clean, so if like me you use lemon in your home cleaning routine, be sure your cat is outside while you clean, and the windows stay open for good ventilation. Our cat, Pepe has his favorite spots in the house, so I make sure I always know where he is before I break out the natural cleaners. Or I will move him upstairs while I give downstairs a clean. Be sure to also keep small dogs off the floors and out of the house while you

Please also note that all of your store-bought chemical-based cleaning products contain harmful chemicals (for humans and animals). Always read labels and be sure that what you are using in your home is safe for everyone who lives there.

Always wash your hands after you have used any essential oils on the list of oils to avoid above, before touching your cats.

References for this article:
1. Dr Janet Roark, The Essential Oil Vet
2. The Dog Oiler, Please take note of a more detailed guide on safety for cats;
3. Apvet:

Always discern what is going to be safest for you and your feline and be sure to take some time and do your own research.

Lara Pieret is not a veterinarian nor an expert in essential oils. This article has been written based on her own passion for oils, her own research online and does not constitute scientific fact. Always do your own research before adopting any new practices and always consult your cat’s veterinarian if you are not sure about using essential oils.

Source: The Gift of the Horse


Disclaimer: The information produced by Infurmation is provided for general and educational purposes only and does not constitute any legal, medical or other professional advice on any subject matter. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Always seek the advice of your vet or other qualified health care provider prior to starting any new diet or treatment and with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you suspect that your pet has a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider.