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Essential Oil Safety and Cats

Essential Oils and CatsIt’s no secret that I LOVE CATS.  It’s also a well known fact that I use essential oils on a daily basis.  Often times cats and essential oils do not go together.  If you love cats too and are using essential oils, let’s get educated on which oils are not OK when owning house cats.

Essential oils are rapidly absorbed when applied topically or diffused.  The liver is responsible for filtering the properties of essential oils.  Cat’s livers actually metabolize substances much differently then humans and even other animals.  A cat’s liver is unique in the fact that they lack the enzyme, glucuronyl tranferases.  This is the enzyme responsible for detoxing the liver.  Therefore, cats take longer to metabolize essential oils and can easily get a build up of harmful toxins in their system resulting in liver failure.  Liver issues often go unnoticed because the symptoms can take some time to surface.

Essential oils high in phenols and hydro carbons are especially harmful.  Oils to avoid are all citrus oils, menthol oils (peppermint, wintergreen, birch and eucalyptus) nutmeg and most importantly, melaleuca (tea tree) essential oils.  Other oils to avoid are basil, cinnamon, oregano, clove, fennel and thyme.

We must remember that it’s not just essential oils that are harmful to cats.  Many plants can poison as well as insecticides, herbicides, anti freeze, aspirin, air fresheners, cleaning supplies (especially pine-sol) etc.  We have to remember that our animal friends have a much keener sense of smell then we do so anything you are using around the house could be overwhelming to an animal.  Especially a cat who is lacking in liver detox.

I did A LOT of research on this topic.  I found that many people claim that essential oils are not toxic to cats-only the ones that have been adulterated.  My gut tells me this is harmful information.  Young Living distributors are usually the ones claiming this and I’m just not in agreement.  However, I’m not one to be overly cautious with essential oils but with this subject, I lean more on the cautious side.  I do believe that an unadulterated essential oils is much less toxic to a cat.

In conclusion, I will never topically use essential oils on my cats.  I just won’t take a chance.  As far as diffusing-I never diffuse citrus oils.  I stick to lavender for the most part.  However, I do diffuse Shield (the equivalent of Thieves) in certain rooms.  Shield contains lemon.  When my girls are sick, I start the diffuser when I put them to bed and shut their door making sure no cats are left in the room.  When I wake them up in the morning, I immediately turn the fan on to disperse the scent.  I never diffuse in a small room that a cat can’t remove itself from.  My cats used to be outdoors so I rarely worried because they could come and go through cat doors.  Now that they can not get outside I try to diffuse every other day since it takes a cat longer to metabolize the compounds in oils.

I hope this information was helpful.  For a long time, I had no idea essential oils could be harmful to cats and diffused lemon/lavender/bergamot almost daily.  I certainly would never want to jeopardize an animals health so shedding some light on the subject seemed necessary!

xx, Jenni

For pure, unadulterated oils, my essential oil company of choice is Spark Naturals.  You can use my coupon code JENNIRAINCLOUD for 10% off your order.

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  1. Hello,
    Do you know if dogs are sensitive to certain essential oils as well?
    Thank you.

    • Kerry-They aren’t. They don’t lack the enzyme to detox their livers so essential oils are much better for dogs. However, they do have a strong sense of smell but that’s really the only thing you need to worry about with dogs.

  2. I had no idea this happened too!! Thanks for sharing, I wouldn’t want my cats to go sick because of such a thing!

  3. Thank you for this informative article. I will certainly be very careful which oils I diffuse in future.
    Much better to find out early than to have our cats with liver failure somewhere down the track.

  4. I worry about my kitty cuddling so close to me at night after I’ve applied my facial serum also. I do, however, wait until she’s down for her 8 hour cat nap so I can put my scar serum on my wrist [of course the scar is her fault]. That way I don’t have to get so much about her elevated liver enzymes that I’m trading her for. Am I over-worrying about the facial serum thing? I do make sure to feed her first then deal with my face and make sure she’s asleep for the night before I put angering on my hands.

    • Beverly Williams says:

      Hi Jenni
      I just re-read my post and I sincerely apologize for so many typographical errors. I guess my phone doesn’t agree with me after all (haha).
      I really meant that I am TREATING my cat for elevated liver enzymes, and at the end of my post meant, “before I put ANYTHING on my hands.
      I do keep up with my skin care and THANKS JENNI for that, and THANK YOU FOR THIS ARTICLE.

  5. I had NO idea this was an issue. I have a kitty baby and have been diffusing spearmint and sweet orange A LOT! The scent never seems to bother him (he doesn’t go up and sniff the diffuser but he stays in the room) so I had no clue. 🙁 Thank you for the info!

  6. Renee Williams says:

    Hey Jenni,
    I’ve been diffusing lavender blends in my bedroom for years and my cat sleeps directly in front of the diffuser
    Recently he has gotten sick, vomited a couple of times, weight loss, lethargic, unsocialable, not eating
    He’s had bloods done which showed very high urea and a urine test which was diluted and showed some protein in it they’re thinking he may have Addison’s disease but I have a gut feeling it’s a toxic build up of oils
    What do you think?

    • Renee-Lavender, if I understand correctly, is safe for cats. The fact that your cat sleeps right in front of it makes me think he doesn’t mind it. Cats most likely have an instinct to get away from something that is harmful to them. But-you might have kitty mommy intuition and should trust your gut. Good luck-I hope he’s ok soon!

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