The scent of lavender is lauded by many for its ability to produce a calming effect, and it is often considered to be something to assist with sleep, relaxation, and stress relief. Because of its success in helping to calm people, many people have looked to lavender oil as a solution for relieving stress in their cats as well.
Is this safe, though? Does it work? Here’s what you need to know before you bring lavender oil into your home if you have cats. Lavender oil is not safe or effective for cats!
Does Lavender Oil Calm Cats?
Neither lavender oil nor the scent of lavender flowers has acquired any backing to indicate they are effective in calming cats. While many people anecdotally claim to have had success, there is no scientific evidence showing any efficacy in the use of lavender oil to calm cats. In fact, there are some significant concerns you should take into account before you even attempt to use lavender oil in a home with cats.
Is Lavender Oil Safe for Cats?
Many people think that because lavender oil and other essential oils are natural, they must be safe. However, “natural” and “safe” are not interchangeable terms, even when it comes to something seemingly benign, like lavender oil.
For starters, the ASPCA has lavender classified as toxic to cats, the plant can cause vomit and nausea. That defeats the calming purpose. The topical application of lavender oil, even if diluted, can cause skin irritation, and if your cat grooms themselves after an essential oil has been applied to their coat, it can also cause a very unpleasant taste in the mouth, and if ingested, it may lead to stomach pain and upset.
Due to the high concentration of substances within essential oils, they can rapidly be absorbed into the body through the skin, which can be difficult and in many cases even impossible for the cat’s liver to metabolize. This can lead to intoxication.
Sometimes, essential oils are used in air fresheners and diffusers. If breathed in by your cat, this can cause respiratory discomfort, shortness of breath, and even respiratory distress in cats with respiratory sensitivities or asthma.
Should I Eliminate Lavender in My Home?
In the realm of essential oils, lavender oil is considered one of the least toxic to pets, but it should still be used with great care in homes with pets. Lavender plants and essential oils are both a risk to have in a home with pets, but the level of risk is variable.
If you live in a small home and diffuse lavender oil, then there is a greater risk to your cat than if you live in a large home and only diffuse lavender oil in one room. Lavender plants also are lower risk than the oil because they require ingestion to cause any issues, so lavender plants may be safe if you can keep them well out of the reach of your cat.
Lavender-scented products, like air fresheners, typically contain less lavender oil than diffusing lavender essential does, making these a somewhat safer option. Unfortunately, though, some cats are very sensitive to air fresheners and scents.
Overall, it’s usually safest to avoid using lavender oil in your home in any way. Lavender does have a small level of toxicity to cats, albeit low, and should be handled with great care in homes with cats. If you have concerns about any exposure to lavender oil your cat has experienced, then you should have your cat evaluated by your vet to ensure they are not experiencing symptoms of toxicity.
Feature Image Credit: Devanath, Pixabay