Are Essential Oils Safe For Cats? The Ultimate Guide!

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Are essential oils safe for cats? NO! Even the ones considered safe are only less concentrated, causing the same health problems on frequent usage.

Upon ingestion, Signs of drooling and vomiting are common. Inhaling essential oil aerosols has reported liver damage, breathing problems, and even fatality in cats. But how to know if your cat is under their influence? And what to do when they are?

I treated several cats with essential oil ingestion and skin contamination in my clinical practice.

I have compiled all information based on my experience and various published studies to answer, “are essential oils safe for cats?” once and for all!

As relaxing as aromatherapy with using essential oils is, You need to understand how to prevent your cats from essential oil poisoning while having a great time yourself.

Most Common Essential Oils Poisonous To Cats:

  • Tea Tree Oil (MOST TOXIC)
  • Bergamot Oil
  • Cinnamon Oil
  • Citrus/Orange Oil
  • Clove Oil
  • Eucalyptus Oil
  • Pennyroyal Oil
  • Geranium Oil
  • Lemon Oil
  • Lemongrass Oil
  • Mint Oils: Peppermint/Spearmint Oil
  • Pine Oil
  • Rosemary Oil
  • Sandalwood Oil
  • Tea tree Oil
  • Thyme Oil
  • Wintergreen Oil
  • Ylang-ylang Oil

Essential Oils Considered Safe For Cats:

  • Lavender Oil
  • Chamomile Oil
  • Jasmine Oil
  • Rose Oil

The level of toxicity varies between certain essential oils due to many factors. These include the concentration of the fundamental element of the oil and the chemical composition. 

Usually, suppose an essential oil is considered safe for cats. In that case, it is most likely because it has a lower chemical concentration of its fundamental element, e.g., Lavender oil with a lower concentration of Lavender extracts.

Remember: Even if an essential oil is marked safe for cats, You should be very cautious about using essential oils around cats. Constant use of “safe essential oils” can also result in the same health problems in your cats as the ones that are not considered safe.

Why Are Essential Oils Toxic For Cats?

Essential oils can be toxic for cats due to the presence of certain types of terpenes. The terpenes found in essential oils are highly lipophilic. Meaning that they can be easily absorbed through the skin and digestive tract. Additionally, they can pass directly to the blood when inhaled by the lungs to reach your cat’s liver.

Usually, the liver metabolizes (breaks down into a simpler form that the body can use) specific chemical components into simpler ones. These of which are excreted by the kidneys. Unluckily, cats lack the enzyme that breaks down terpenes, thus accumulating this component in the body. 

Symptoms of Essential Oil Contamination?

The most common symptoms of essential oils poisoning in cats that I have observed from my clinical practice are:

  • An Upset Gastrointestinal Tract (drooling vomiting tremors)
  • Skin Irritation (causing body redness)
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Low Body Temperature
  • Lower Heart Rate
  • Watery Eyes or Nose

Certain hazardous types of essential oils have more severe effects. Tea tree oil, for example, is one of the most threatening types of essential oils for cats. Exposure to this oil will disrupt regular nervous system activity, which can be very dangerous.

Other severe signs that are visible during essential oil toxicosis include:

  • Lack of Coordination
  • Muscle tremors
  • Liver Failure

What To Do When My Cat Is Exposed To Essential Oils?

There is not much to be done as a non-veterinarian or animal expert. So, it is a must to take your cat to the Vet immediately after essential oil intake. 

However, as a quick first aid: What you can do is try to limit any further exposure to oils. For example, give it a detergent bath if essential oils are on your cat’s skin to narrow the skin absorption.

If the essential oils are inhaled, you should immediately bring your cat into the fresh air. 

Keep monitoring your pet and check for signs of essential oil toxicosis. If you observe your cat, you will be able to detect the volume of the risk. With that said, Rush to your Vet as soon as you realize essential oil contamination in your cats.

How Can My Cat Be Contaminated With Essential Oils and How To Keep Them Safe?

Several routes can cause the absorption of essential oils into your cat’s body. These include respiratory, oral, and skin absorption. 

Method of Contamination: Respiratory (Most Common)

The most common pathway includes the passage of essential oil aerosols. These pass from diffusers to air to the lungs and eventually to your cat’s bloodstream.

Solution: Avoid turning on your diffusers when your cat is around. Limit the diffusion time of essential oils and keep your cat away during this period. 

Method of Contamination: Oral

It’s pretty simple! If you leave your oil containers unattended, cats may try to lick them.

Solution: Keep your oil containers sealed and stored safely out of your cat’s reach.

Method of Contamination: Skin Absorption

Essential oils are absorbed rapidly when applied to your cat’s coat, causing immediate skin irritation or other symptoms mentioned above.

Solution: Never try putting any essential oil on your cat’s coat.

Usage of Essential Oils as Tick and Flea Repellent for Cats:

Ironically, some essential oils are being studied for use on cats as repellents for ectoparasites.

Essential oils have been used as natural pesticides or insect repellents. Thus placing them under question for use in veterinary medicine against ectoparasites. Study results have shown that certain essential oils were highly effective against adult fleas:

Not only were they effective against ectoparasites. But they were distinguished for their antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties.

Even though essential oils can be highly effective against cat fleas and ticks, their severe side effects on cats are more dominant!

Moreover, signs of a depressed nervous system have been detected in several cats after applying essential oil as a repellent.

FAQs: Are Essential Oils Safe For Cats and MORE!

Is lemongrass essential oil safe for cats?

It is okay for you to use lemongrass oil around your cat. As long as there is no ingestion nor dermal contact with the oil, you are good to go.

Is orange essential oil safe for cats?

Orange essential oils contain d-limonene, which is toxic for cats. Additionally, orange scents are unfavorable among cats and tend to repel them.

Is lavender essential oil safe for cats?

They have safe diffusions around cats but are never safe for topical administration/ingestion.

Is peppermint oil safe for cats?

No, it’s not. Your cat’s liver cannot metabolize the phenols found in peppermint oil. Thus when inhaled, they can pass through the blood to the liver and cause hepatotoxicity. 

Are essential oils safe for cats and dogs? 

Only a few essential oils, such as Lavender and jasmine oil, are considered safe. Still, These should be used around your cats and dogs with caution.

What essential oil diffuser is best for cats? 

The oil diffuser type doesn’t matter. All essential oil diffusers release the oils as aerosols that your cat can quickly inhale.


So finally, Are essential oils safe for cats? No they are not!

As much as we love natural and organic products, It should be clear that not all natural products, beneficial for humans, are safe for your cats.

All essential oils pose a health threat, whether marked safe or unsafe for cats. They can contaminate your cat’s body through ingestion, respiration, and skin absorption; hence should be used with extreme caution around your cat.

Even though some studies suggest they can significantly aid in combating feline ectoparasites, they have too many side effects to be efficient. 

Keep your essential oils in safe containers. Avoid diffusing them for a prolonged period around your cats and always keep an eye on the symptoms of contamination in your cat if you are a regular essential oil user.

You might also be interested in human foods that are poisonous to cats!