Are Essential Oils Safe For Cats?

The use of essential oils for humans has been on the rise in recent years as more and more people start to realize the benefits that can come from aromatherapy. That said, while oils can be fantastic for us two legged creatures, what about our feline counterparts that share our living space?

Are there benefits to using essential oils around cats? What about health risks? We’ll explore this, and more, as we continue!

First off, if you are currently using essential oils around your cat, you can relax. Oils can actually improve the health of your feline friend, as long as you utilize the proper oils. In fact, they can even have other positive effects if used correctly!

While the topic of using natural oils around our pets has been on the controversial side, there are may holistic veterinarians that use oils to cure a number of different ailments in cats and other animals.

The Benefits of Using Essential Oils with Cats

We all know that our felines can display different personality traits in everyday life. Between my two cats, I see approximately 16 different personalities throughout the day, and each comes and goes like the wind. My little one can go from a purring lap kitty to claw your face off tiger mode in a matter of moments, while the older one is scared of EVERYTHING (seriously, the sound of the refrigerator running makes him freeze in his tracks) and sometimes needs a little alone time to calm his nerves.

With these different quirks and personalities under one roof, I was looking for a solution that would allow everyone to get along, while calming down the scaredy cat, and evening out the baby’s split personalities at the same time. Enter the use of essential oils into the household.

Using oils properly is a great way to relax the anxious animal, or promote harmony in a multi cat household. Oils can also be used to help with digestive issues, travel anxiety, and animals with anger issues against other pets or even humans.

There have also been studies conducted that show essential oils can help with more serious ailments, however, it is not recommended to use oils in place of medication, surgery, or other advice provided by your vet.

Risks While Using Essential Oils for Cats

As with all alternative health methods, using essential oils can have drawbacks. When using oils around our cat friends, a few things need to be taken into consideration. Cats are extremely sensitive to oils for a few reasons:

  1. Cats have an extremely strong sense of smell. They are very sensitive to any new scents that are introduced into their environments. This means that if not diluted properly, oils can be incredibly overpowering to felines.
  2. If you’ve ever brushed your cat, or had to remove a mat from their fur, you’ve probably noticed that the skin of your furry friend is extremely thin and delicate. Oils that are applied topically absorb quickly directly into their bloodstream.
  3. The most important thing to remember when using oils on your pet, is that cats cannot metabolize compounds found in essential oils, which can lead to toxic build up in their body.

If you remember these three points, you can effectively use essential oils in your home, or directly on your cat.

How to Give Your Cat Essential Oils

There are several ways to incorporate oils into your cat’s life. If you want your household to benefit from the effects as well, you can use an oil diffuser. There are several different options and sizes for you to use, depending on the size of your room.

Alternatively, you can apply the oils directly to your feline, as long as you dilute the oil with water before applying. The general rule is 1 part oil to 80 part water. Put this mixture in a spray bottle and spray around your cat, or even put a few drops directly on your animal’s fur!

The final option is to add oils directly into your cat’s water bowl. Again, remember the 1 to 80 rule!

The best way to start your feline on his journey into essential oils is to do a fast test to see how your cat will react. You can add the oils to a spray bottle as stated above and spray a small area where your cat frequents, and watch their reaction. Most cats will be curious about the new smell, and may even rub on the areas that were sprayed! This shows that the cat is intrigued by the scent, and if there are no other adverse reactions, you can continue to spray and use the oils around your pet!

What to Look For During the Test

Since the ultimate goal to using essential oils is to help your feline in some way, you want to be sure that there are no negative reactions. These could include the cat increasing scratching in a specific spot on their fur, a rash development on their fur, or even vomiting or coughing.

If this happens, discontinue use of the oils right away. Wash any food and water bowls and any bedding or toys the oils may have touched. The symptoms should clear up within a few hours, but if they persist, head to your vet right away.

Are Essential Oils Safe For Cats?

While each oil holds its own properties for different behavioral modifications, there are some oils that you should never use around your cat. Ever. They hold high toxicity levels that can be fatal.

  • Cinnamon
  • Pine
  • Spruce
  • Cypress
  • Birch
  • Grapefruit
  • Clove
  • Citrus
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Thyme
  • Wintergreen
  • Bitter Almond
  • Orange
  • Cajeput
  • Peppermint
  • Sage
  • Clove
  • Oregano
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Petegrain

Basically, any essential oil with phenol in it should be avoided when used on or near cats!

There are likely more oils that shouldn't be used around cats, so this may not be a complete list. Make sure you do your research thoroughly prior to using an oil on your cat.

So What Essential Oils Can You Use On Your Cat?

While we’ve talked about the dangers of using oils, there are some major perks as well! As we talked about, stress relief is one of the highest reasons pet owners use essential oils daily. Here are oils that are safe for use on your cat, and some of the ailments they can treat.

  • Clary Sage - Helps with depression (yes, cats can be depressed!), and digestive problems.
  • Elemi - Antiseptic, expectorant, and stimulate.
  • Frankincense - Promotes peace and wellness.
  • Geranium - Balance hormones, reduce inflammation and irritation, and improve skin health.
  • Helichrysum - Digestive aide, natural cancer protector, and diuretic.
  • Lavender - Eliminate tension, relieve pain, and treat respiratory problems - This is my personal favorite!
  • Rosemary - Promotes hair health (including fur!), and helps with indigestion.

Conclusion

I’ve been a pet owner for many years, and am neurotic when it comes to the health of my animals. As I shared earlier, the ability to have several personalities coexist in harmony has been challenging at times, and with the help of essential oils from reputable sources, I’ve been able to promote harmony and even sometimes furry friendship among the felines!

Just remember to be diligent in your additional research, and even question your vet for more information. A holistic approach to healing is less stressful for your pet in the long run and she will thank you with lots of purrs and ankle rubs!

*While we thoroughly researched essential oils for this article, we are not veterinarians. It is recommended that you contact your vet prior to using any of these oils.​

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