Essential Oils and Your Cat
Our Patton vets get questions from time to time about using essential oils in their homes or on their pets. While some oils are safe, many can exacerbate medical conditions such as feline asthma and some are even toxic, especially to our feline friends. Always be cautious when using essential oils around your cats.
Scents that we find invigorating or calming may actually be quite offensive to cats who tend to dislike citrus and floral odors. If you do use essential oils in your home, be careful with diffusers if you own cats. The aerosolized mist may not only be too strong for your cat whose olfactory (scent) glands are much more powerful than our own, but can make cats with respiratory conditions such as asthma worse by causing inflammation in the airways. Make sure cats cannot knock over diffusers or warmers causing spills or burns and make sure they cannot chew on electrical cords.
Applying essential oils directly to a cat’s skin or fur may also lead to problems. Cats are very sensitive to herbs and drugs. What may seem like a safe, natural way to calm your cat or to treat a wound may in fact harm your kitty. Many essential oils can cause skin irritation and may even cause harm to a cat’s liver. Specific oils that are no-nos for cats are oils such as peppermint, wintergreen, cinnamon, clove, pine, eucalyptus, citrus, and even lavender oils. These are rapidly absorbed orally or through the skin or may be inhaled and can cause drooling, vomiting, tremors, stumbling/ataxia, respiratory distress and potentially liver failure.
There are a few lines of essential oils created specifically for pets, and, while our veterinarians do not recommend applying essential oils of any kind directly to cat’s skin due to their sensitivity to these products, if you feel you must use essential oils on your pet, please look for a pure product designed specifically for cats.
Some people also use natural oils to try to control fleas; however, these are often not effective and may cause more harm than good. Pennyroyal oil, tea tree oil and other oils are toxic to pets. Please talk to our vets about safe, effective flea products such as feline Revolution.
So, while occasionally using a diffuser for essential oils in your home is not likely to cause problems for your cat, use caution if your cat has respiratory problems, make sure cats have a place to go away from the diffuser and do not apply any essential oils directly to your cat’s skin or coat without consulting a veterinarian.
This blog brought to you by the Patton Veterinary Hospital serving Red Lion, York and the surrounding communities.