It’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!
**Since this post, I have switched essential oil companies and now prefer to use Mountain Rose Herbs essential oils. They are unadulterated and organic, not to mention extremely affordable. Go HERE to check them out. I still stand behind the quality of Spark Naturals essential oils but find MRH’s commitment to quality and sustainability to be the company I prefer to use.