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Home > Cats > Are Essential Oils Dangerous to Cats? Vet-Reviewed Effects, Risks & Alternatives

Are Essential Oils Dangerous to Cats? Vet-Reviewed Effects, Risks & Alternatives


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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Luqman Javed

Veterinarian, DVM

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Humans seem to enjoy using essential oils to create a good-smelling home, manipulate our moods and attitudes, and even promote healing from certain ailments. However, just because humans can benefit from the use of essential oils does not mean that all other living creatures can do so. For instance, essential oils do not affect cats the same way that they do us.

In fact, all essential oils should be kept away from cats. Here are all the details that you should know about essential oils and their effects on cats.


The Effects of Essential Oil Compounds on Cats

Lemon essential oil and lemon fruits
Image Credit: Nikolay Litov, Shutterstock

At one time, essential oils seemed to have no bad effect on cats. However, after studies and surveys, it has become clear that cats should stay away from any essential oil exposure for the most part. The problem is that cats lack the enzymes necessary to properly absorb and process the compounds that are contained in essential oils.

First and foremost, cats are much more susceptible to smells than we humans are. While we might think that a light smell is permeating throughout the house, our cats may be getting overwhelmed by the odor. Their bodies are much smaller than ours too, which means that it takes less essential oil diffusion to irritate a cat than it would a human. Cats also have a very sensitive respiratory system and can easily get irritated from essential oils.

Excessive exposure to essential oils can result in preventable health problems in your cat, including regular wheezing, coughing, and panting. Essential oils can inhibit breathing patterns and overall lung health in cats. Signs of a cold, such as a runny nose and watery eyes, can also mean that your cat has been exposed to too many essential oils.

Vomiting and nausea are other signs of essential oil toxicity in cats. This usually happens after a cat grooms once essential oils come into contact with their fur or skin. Once ingested, their inability to break down the essential oils have been attributed to the development of nausea and vomiting.

Alternative Options to Essential Oils

Cute cat is smelling the woman fingers
Image Credit: PewChantana, Shutterstock

You do not need essential oils to keep your house smelling clean and fresh. You can use cat safe deodorizers to de-smell your home; however, these products shouldn’t be directly sprayed onto your cat.

If you require the use of essential oils to manage migraines and other health problems, use oils that can be rubbed on your skin, and just ensure that your cat does not lick the skin that has been treated until the essential oil has dried up and been absorbed. Ask your doctor and veterinarian to work together to find solutions to your health needs if you are used to burning or diffusing essential oils in your home, and you want to get a new pet cat.


Final Thoughts

Cats should have little to no exposure to essential oils of any kind, as it cannot be known exactly how they will react. Some cats seem to show no signs of trauma, but most do as time goes on. To be safe if you choose to use essential oils, talk to your veterinarian to find out the “do’s and don’ts” of doing so.

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Featured Image Credit: monicore, Pixabay

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