Posted by Belinda Bird on

As much as using Essential Oils in our homes is relaxing and fills our house with the beautiful scents of nature, caution must be taken with the frequency that you use them as they can be toxic to cats.


In fact, if a large quantity of Essential Oils are diffused throughout a room, it can also be toxic to humans! Excessive use of Essential Oils can cause neurological symptoms such as headaches and fatigue. In comparison to size, cats require much less exposure to obtain a toxic dose. Essential Oils are rapidly absorbed both orally and across the skin. The higher the concentration of the Essential Oil, the higher the risk!



Once Essential Oils have been absorbed by a cat, they must be metabolised through the liver, and here is where the problem for a cat starts. Cats lack an essential enzyme in their liver, making it difficult for them to metabolise and eliminate certain toxins, such as Essential Oils. 





For anyone who has looked into essential oils for their home knows that there are hundreds to choose from. Depending on if you are using them for health conditions, calming, purifying, or for their beautiful scent, you may need to use more than one at a time, increasing the concentration in the air. Here are the top 10 Essential Oils dangerous for cats. 


Oil of WintergreenOil of Sweet BirchCitrus Oil (D-limonene) Pine OilsYlang Ylang OilsCinnamon OilPennyroyal OilClove OilEucalyptus OilTea Tree Oil


    Diffusers and liquid Potpourri are most commonly thought of when thinking about Essential Oils, but deodorisers, insecticides, personal care products, cleaning products and even some pet shampoo's and conditioners commonly include Essential Oils. This is why it is essential to do your homework when selecting products for your pet, particularly when using grooming products. Here are our Australian hand-made, safe and natural grooming products for cats and dogs


    Pets are often attracted to Essential Oils for their sweet scent. If you do decide to use them in your home and you own a cat, I recommended ensuring they can not be accessed and are used in small doses in well-ventilated areas. 




    When listing out symptoms I like to mention that symptoms on their own can be due to a vast range of health conditions, but collectively they can give a good indication of what the underlying cause is. If you notice your cat, or even dog, displaying a number of these symptoms you should see your veterinarian immediately. 



    Depending on the type of Essential Oil and the level of exposure, the following symptoms are known to occur:

    • Difficulty Breathing
    • Drooling
    • Lethargy or weakness
    • Low heart rate
    • Low body temperature
    • Vomiting
    • Tremors
    • Pawing at the mouth or face
    • Fragrance or scent on skin, coat, breath or vomit 


    If your cat is displaying these symptoms, it is vital that you seek veterinary attention immediately. 





    Dogs are much less sensitive to Essential Oils, but that does not mean you can be relaxed about using them. Remember, humans can also suffer from Essential Oil toxicity. So, really, anything smaller than us can also suffer with long enough exposure in high doses! 


    I do not recommend using Essential oils regularly around:

    • Puppies under 10 weeks of age
    • Pregnant Dogs - Consult your Holistic Veterinarian or Canine Naturopath
    • Epileptic Dogs
    • Avoid contact with all dogs around their eyes, ears, mouth, and nose with pure Essential Oils unless you have been recommended by a Holistic Veterinarian or Canine Naturopath 


    Reading labels prior to purchasing products for your cat is a good habit to get into. This way you are confident that what you are using is safe and your household is safe for the whole family. 



    We do offer a range of safe Grooming products for cats and you can view them here. 




    If you are concerned that your cat is suffering from Essential Oil Toxicity, move him immediately to a well-ventilated area with fresh air. If you do not see an improvement in minutes, you will need to transport him to your vet immediately as he is likely going to need some hospitalisation and support to recover. Cats with asthma or have had previous respiratory issues are at a higher risk of being affected. 


      The treatment recommended by your veterinarian will depend on the level of toxicity and the displaying symptoms, but can include:

      • Intravenous Fluid Therapy
      • Blood tests to check liver function
      • Hospitalisation
      • Supportive medications


      This does not mean that you can not use Essential Oils in your home, you just need to be mindful of how often you are using them and where. Rather than placing your diffuser on your kitchen bench while your cat's scratch pole is on the other side, place it up on the shelf out of reach and away from any food or water bowls, toys and bedding. Also, be sure to have good ventilation in the rooms that you are using them in!

      Here is a Veterinarian explaining how she has seen an increase in Essential Oil toxicity in cats in recent years. 




      Diluted Essential Oils have been known to be used to treat different ailments, or used as preventatives by some holistic veterinarians or animal naturopaths, but I highly recommend consulting one of these professionals before attempting to use any at home as a form of treatment or preventative on your cat or dog. 



      If you have any experiences that you would like to share, or have any questions, please reach out to me. I would love to hear from you.



      Belinda Bird

      Founder & Veterinary Nurse

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