I have loved essential oils for many years and I find them extremely useful for minor health issues, cleaning tasks as well as just creating a nice home environment with aromatherapy. Because I love them and believe they can also be dangerous, I have written a few posts on safety with essential oils. One thing I never really touched on specifically was safety around our fury feline friends. I have a cat and (you guessed it!) I’m a total cat person. I happen to really love spoiling my cat, but I also make sure my living space we share is also safe for him.
Essential Oil Safety Around Cats
The reason this post is not a simple one on essential oil safety for both dogs and cats is not because I am a cat person, though. It’s a simple reason,really. Dogs can metabolize many essential oils just fine that can be extremely dangerous for cats and in some cases, lethal, just from inhaling them over time. Before I get into which oils are safe, let’s talk about why some oils are not.
Why Some Essential Oils are Not Safe Around Cats
Unlike dogs and humans, cats don’t have an enzyme most animals have in their livers to metabolize some essential oils. Because of this, they can build up toxicity and can lead to symptoms such as drooling, breathing heavy, seizures and even death.
Cats have an incredible sense of smell and an enhanced olfactory system. Because of this, essential oils of some kinds can be incredibly overwhelming for them. It may smell heavenly to your nose, but your cat might find it repugnant.
Some essential oils can lead to skin irritation and even burns if applied to cats for treatment of things such as keeping away ticks or fleas. Never apply any essential oils to your cats (or your own!) skin without first diluting it with a carrier oil such as coconut.
Essential Oils that are Not Safe for Cats
Most Citrus Oils including lemon, grapefruit, orange, sweet orange, lime and citrus blends are not safe.
Some wood Oils including Spruce, Pine, and birch.
Mint oils such as peppermint, wintergreen and spearmint.
In addition to those I already listed, you should also stay away from eucalyptus oil, ylang ylang, cinnamon, clove, lavender and penny royal oils.
Safe Essential Oils for Your Cats to Diffuse Around Them
It can seem like most of your favorites are off the table but there are plenty of essential oils you can diffuse around your cats just fine and with complete safety. Some even have good effects on them such calming.
Cedar wood can be diffused around cats safely as long as it comes from the Eastern Red Cedar and NOT the white cedar.
Roman Chamomile is safe to diffuse.
If you crave a citrus scent, try lemongrass. It is safe.
Safe Essential Oils to use on Your Cat (Diluted)
The oils I listed above are safe for applying to the skin when diluted and can even be used in the following ways:
Tea tree oils should not be diffused around cats, but are safe for application to prevent ticks as long as you dilute them well and do not use them in high concentrations.
Marjoram oil can be used diluted around your cat’s ears (never drop it into his ears, but dilute it and place near the opening) to repel mites.
Eastern Red Cedar Wood oil is great for repelling ticks.
Safety when Using Essential Oils as a Cat’s Friend
Always wash your hands after using essential oils before you pet your cat- Your cat bathes itself several times a day. If you have essential oils on your hands, especially the toxic kind to your kitty, they will ingest it when they bathe. Make sure to wash well before petty your friend.
Allow your cat a way to leave the room if it’s too much for them– Even safe oils can be overwhelming even for humans so try to diffuse the least amount possible and always allow your cat a way to leave the room if it becomes too strong for them. You may even consider diffusing only when bathing and shutting the door, for example.
Don’t constantly diffuse essential oils and give yourself and your pets a break– Both humans and pets need a break from essential oils. Make sure you only diffuse for short periods of time (under a few hours, not all day) to give everyone a break. Plus, you will become nose ‘blind’ to your favorite smell if you don’t.
Keep essential oils out of reach and well-sealed– I keep my essential oils stored in a beautiful New Zealand wood Aroma Outfitters Essential Oil box to keep it all handy, out of the way of cats and safe. This box is my favorite because it came with lid labels and it stores a lot. I like that I can take it from room to room easily, too.
ALWAYS ask your vet before using essential oils on your cat or in your home if you are concerned. They will have the most up-to-date information.