Last week I shared a list of safe essential oils that can be safely used on your dog (found HERE) and I didn’t want to forget our feline friends. Use of essential oils is a controversial topic for use on cats but there are some essential oils that are safe, with caveats.
Never having owned a cat, I had to consult Dr. Google. One thing I learned about cats is they are deficient in glucuronyl transferase, a liver enzyme that changes bilirubin into a form that can be removed through the bile. This compound also changes some hormones, medicines, and toxins into non-harmful by-products. Since uprights have a much higher tolerance for phenols, extra care when using essential oils on cats is critical. Harkening back to high school chemistry for a moment, you may recall that phenols are chemically active compounds which are found throughout nature, especially in plants (i.e. peppers contain capsaicin which is a phenol). Phenols exhibit a wide range of properties; some for their health benefits, while others are deadly poisonous. Only high quality, therapeutic grade oils (without phenols) should be considered for cats.
Cats possess an enhanced sense of smell, so diffusing essential oils has the potential to become overwhelming. That said, essential oils are likely more safe for cats than artificial fragrances and air fresheners. Even still, what your nose perceives as pleasant may not be perceived quite the same by your cat. When diffusing essential oils, a scent-free room for retreat is a good idea.
It should also be noted that a cat’s system is incredibly sensitive and some oils can be quite toxic. Essential oils with phenols should never be used and any safe oil used should be diluted in a quality carrier oil (a high-grade, pure vegetable oil is the catalyst that can make certain essential oils tolerable for cats. Some vets suggest the differential be dramatic: 50 drops of vegetable (the carrier oil) to 1 drop of essential oil though you should verify this ratio with your own vet as some recommend increasing that ratio up to 80- to 90-percent. Once properly mixed, you can place a drop of this mixture into your hands and pet your cat. Dilution and testing are two critical components when introducing your cat to essential oils, but before you start applying, it’s important to introduce these agents to your cat slowly.
The following oils are safe for use on cats and may be used in moderation (make sure your essential oil is phenol-free).
Cedarwood Repels pests and promotes healthy skin and coat.
Chamomile Promotes relaxation and sleep and also supports healthy digestion.
Lavender Relieves anxiety from separation or during long trips.
Myrrh Can help fight allergies and promote healthy skin and coat.
Clary Sage Calms nervousness and excitability.
Geranium Great for repelling pests and as a treatment for ear infections.
Ginger Relieves pain from arthritis and hip dysplasia and supports healthy digestion.
Marjoram Repels pests and helps treat skin infections and irritations.
Never apply essential oils at full strength on cats (and only use in a diffuser for short periods of time). not meant to be used near the eyes and ears of humans or cats. It only takes 6/100th of a drop of lavender oil to calm pets down. And just because paws have leathery pads, that doesn’t mean it’s safe to apply essential oils to them.
Avoid these oils:
|Clove oil||Cinnamon oil|
|Thyme oil||Oregano oil|
|Wintergreen oil||Sweet birch oil|
|Lavender oil||Citrus oil|
|Peppermint oil||Pennyroyal oil|
|Eucalyptus oil||Tea tree oil|
Remember always consult your vet before introducing new food, treatment, or any substances into your pet’s routine care. If using essential oils on your cat, be on the lookout for strange behavior (drooling, muscle tremors, difficulty walking, or lethargy). Contact your vet or the Pet Poison Helpline (800-213-6680) immediately, and especially if you notice redness on your cat’s skin, or if they begin pawing at their face following exposure to essential oils.
Have you ever used essential oils on your kitty?
Live, love, bark! 🐾