Are Essential Oils Safe for Cats?

Essential oils are a great way to keep the air in your home smelling great. However, they might not be so great for cats.

Essential oils are not safe for cats because they pose toxic risks to their health. Cats can absorb essential oils through their skin, nose, and mouth. Some oils are less toxic than others but all essential oils have negative effects on your cat

Reading on, you’ll find out about why essential oils are toxic to your cat. You’ll then read about how your cats can potentially absorb essential oils and their effects. Finally, you’ll read about what you can do to protect your cats and what to use instead of essential oils to keep your house smelling fresh.

Essential Oils and Cats

Essential oils are usually fragrant substances that are extracted from plants. People use essential oils for different reasons including relaxation, massages, and making their homes smell good. They’re known to have different therapeutic effects for people depending on what type of essential oils they use.

When inhaled, the scent molecules affect the olfactory nerves and send signals to a person’s brain. These signals specifically target the amygdala, which is the emotional center of the brain. This experience is called aromatherapy. Aromatherapy has shown to improve happiness, calmness, and quality of sleep. It can also help with anxiety, stress, and exhaustion. It’s also become extremely popular among people and most homes have a form of aromatherapy in them.

Since there are now countless uses for essential oils, they’re practically everywhere. You can find essential oils in everyday things like soap, sanitizer, shampoo, perfume, cleaning agents, and laundry detergent.

However, essential oils and aromatherapy are notoriously toxic to pets, especially cats. Even just small amounts of essential oils can pose a high-risk threat to your cats.

Why Essential Oils Are Toxic to Cats

Essential oils are toxic to cats because they contain chemicals that cats can rapidly absorb through their mouth, nose, and skin. These chemicals are harmful to their bodies, especially their respiratory organs and liver.

Cats are unable to properly metabolize or process essential oils which leads to all sorts of negative effects. When inhaled, essential oils can give your cat pneumonia or poisoning. If your cat comes into direct contact with essential oils, it can experience the same effects as inhaling it.

Even if the number of essential oil droplets in the air is small, they can still pose great risks to your cat’s health. It doesn’t take a lot of essential oil for your cat to experience health issues.

The Effects That Essential Oils Has on Cats

When a cat absorbs essential oils from its skin or through breathing, it can experience vomiting, diarrhea, decreased heart rate, difficult breathing, and in worse cases, seizures. You might think that your cat is safe if you’re using an aerosol type of essential oil diffuser but the essential oil’s droplets can collect on your cat’s first. Once it grooms itself, it’ll be directly ingesting those essential oils through its tongue.

Below are some the common essential oils that are toxic to cats:

  • Bergamot
  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Eucalyptus
  • European pennyroyal
  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Lemongrass
  • Lime
  • Mint
  • Orange
  • Potpourri
  • Peppermint
  • Rose
  • Rosemary
  • Sandalwood
  • Spearmint
  • Tea tree
  • Thyme
  • Wintergreen
  • Ylang-ylang

Even if you are using essential oils that aren’t on this list, you still need to be cautious about them. All essential oils pose a toxic threat to your cat because of the other chemicals added to process them. Tea tree oil is known to be especially toxic to cats because it directly impacts their livers.

If you have both a dog and a cat, you might find that most dog shampoos and conditioners contain tea tree oil. Be sure to check what products you use on your pet dog because if they contain tea tree oil, they might be absorbed by your cat.

Can You Use Essential Oils if You Have a Cat?

The short answer is yes, but with great caution. If you don’t think you can let go of using essential oils, you will need to be extra careful about how you use them. You shouldn’t use essential oils for any aromatherapy purpose because this is the hardest to control.

Veterinarians suggest that you only use an oil diffuser in spaces with plenty of open air to avoid poisoning your cat. Even if the diffuser is used in an open space, you should still remain vigilant and observe your cat and see if it is affecting their respiratory system. Be wary of any symptoms that they might be experiencing that can be caused by essential oil poisoning.

If you use essential oils for massages or applying them to your body, you should avoid coming into contact with your cat after you’ve used them. When not in use, store your essential oils into drawers or other containers that your cat cannot access.

When cleaning with essential oils, keep your cats away from the area that you’re cleaning until the substances with essential oils have dried out. Don’t let your cats walk on any surfaces that were cleaned with essential oils right after they were used. Waiting 15 to 30 minutes after cleaning should be enough time to make sure that your cat is safe.

Basically, all you need to do is to make sure that your cats never touch or get too close to any essential oils. It’s recommended that you just get rid of essential oils altogether but it can be difficult to live without them. So the next best thing you can do is to keep them away from your cats and to be extra mindful of your cat’s health. Once you suspect that they’ve been poisoned, take them to the vet right away.

What to Use Instead of Essential Oils

It’s likely that you’re interested in using essential oils because of having pets in the house. Having pets can make it easy for your home to smell so essential oils are an obvious and simple remedy. However, since they can be dangerous for your pets, it would be better to find an alternative.

For Cleaning Spaces and Surfaces

Instead of using cleaners with essential oils and other harmful chemicals, you can use alkaline water. This water is ionized to have smaller molecules that can penetrate and get rid of dirt. This solution is 99.99% water and proven to be safe for you and cats. Simply spray it on the surface you need to clean, wait a few minutes, then wipe.

For Keeping the Air Clean

Although essential oils can make your home smell great, you can instead prevent any nasty odors caused by germs and bacteria by using an air purifier. Air purifiers don’t use any essential oils to mask odors but they will get rid of the germs that cause them. This is perfectly safe for your cat and will even get rid of dust and allergens that might affect you.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, essential oils aren’t safe for cats. They have a ton of great uses for people but just as many negative effects on your feline friend. As a responsible pet haver, you should avoid using any essential oils at home to keep your pet safe.

On the bright side, it’s not impossible to have essential oils while also having a cat. You just need to take extra precautions to make sure that any essential oils that you use aren’t inhaled or ingested by your cat. You can do so by only using essential oil fragrances in open spaces and storing your essential oils in containers that your cat can’t access.

Instead of using cleaners with essential oils, you can use alkaline water to clean your surfaces. Alkaline water is simply water that is ionized and can easily take care of dirt on any surface. You can also use an air purifier to keep your home from developing any bad odors. This way you get to have a home that smells great and a perfectly healthy cat.