Should you use essential oils on cats?
This questions is sure to generate strong reactions.
The debate rages.
However, the truth is no one has a definitive answer.
I tell my readers not to use essential oils on a cat, for reasons I’ll explain in a minute. Even though I’ve used them with good success on my dog.
Essential oils have been around for centuries. But, only recently, have they become popular in the United States.
We still have a lot to learn about their safest use. In humans and in pets. Meanwhile, misinformation abounds.
You can make a very good case for never using essential oils on cats. That’s because felines lack crucial liver enzymes needed to break down these strong aromatic compounds. Dogs and humans have these enzymes.
Used very judiciously, essential oils seem safe for most dogs. I first used them years ago on our now nearly 17-year-old dog.
It appears to be a much different case with cats. Despite the fact a couple of online vets do believe essential oils aren’t bad for cats. However, this is a minority viewpoint.
If I owned a cat there’s no way I’d consider treating it with essential oils.
Why You Can’t Use Essential Oils On Cats?
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Essential oils have worked great on my dog. I’ve used lavender essential oil for ear maintenance. I’ve also used lavender oil mixed with coconut oil for hot spots.
We never buy potentially toxic flea control products. That’s because one drop of geranium essential oil on our dog’s collar (not his fur) can keep fleas and ticks away.
If you have a dog, you can also make your own flea and tick house spray with essential oils.
Given how essential oils can help dogs, people naturally want to try them on cats. But please don’t.
Actually, because essential oils are so concentrated, you still need to use them carefully with dogs. Never use them on young puppies or pregnant females. And always check with your vet before using them at all.
Remember I’m not an animal healthcare expert. Just a wife, mother and Dog Mom who likes to use essential oils.
So your vet has the final word on essential oil use.
Why You Shouldn’t Use Essential Oils On a Cat
One of the best ways to use essential oils in the home is to put them in a cold air diffuser. This is a great way to make your home smell like lavender, peppermint or warm spices.
Essential oils cover nasty odors much better than scented candles. Because they do it naturally, without potentially toxic chemicals.
Paraffin “wax” candles are made from petroleum byproducts. (Think of running a diesel fuel truck in your kitchen.) Once I found out they cause indoor air pollution, I stopped using them.
Now when company comes to visit I like to use essentials oils, in a diffuser.
Apparently, you can still use a cold air essential oil diffuser, even if you have a cat.
But you have to do it carefully. This means not running it too long in a room that’s not well ventilated.
Also, don’t do it in a closed off room that the cat is in. You need to allow kitty a chance to escape if the fumes are too strong.
Can You Use Essential Oils On Cats?
So, just how dangerous is it to use essential oils on a cat?
I wish I had the definitive answer. Lacking that, I wouldn’t do it. Especially since other natural healing methods exist.
For natural cat care, you may want to think about homeopathy. Animals respond very well to homeopathic remedies. (I’m amazed at how much they’ve helped my own dog.)
Homeopathy used properly appears to be safe for cats. Again always check with your vet.
If you don’t have a professional homeopath, you can find wide spectrum homeopathic remedies designed for dogs and cats.
These remedies are designed to address specific conditions, such as skin problems.
If I had a cat I wouldn’t hesitate to use a well selected homeopathic remedy. However, despite the directions on the bottle, I’d only give one dose and see if that did the trick. I’d hold off on the second dose unless it was needed.
Anyway, once again, work closely with your vet if you decide to use homeopathy. Stop using the remedy immediately if you notice brand new symptoms.
Are Essential Oils Dangerous for Cats?
With all of the conflicting information on using essential oils with cats, I decided to see what the expert has to say.
This is Robert Tisserand, an internationally known essential oil safety expert. He’s the author of Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals.
I believe his advice is very balanced. I like the fact that he writes for a wide audience, and seems to err on the side of caution.
Anyway, here’s what he has to say about essential oils for cats.
- Robert Tisserant underscores the point about being careful with a diffuser around a cat. Even humans, he notes, can suffer ill effects if diffusing is highly concentrated for a prolonged period of time. He said limited diffusing in a well ventilated area probably won’t harm the cat. (The cat needs to be free to leave the room.) But added, “be careful to avoid build-up of vapors over many hours.”
- He apparently doesn’t believe tiny amounts of essential oils will seriously hurt a cat.
- He cited examples where tea tree oil has harmed cats.
You can read the more detailed post written by Robert Tisserand here.
Personally I wouldn’t diffuse tea tree oil essential oil in my home if I had a cat. There are so many other oils that may be a little safer. Plus, tea tree oil doesn’t smell that great anyway. Actually I hate the smell of tea tree. At home I use it mainly for mold control.
Anyway, these are my personal reflections on my it’s not a good idea to use essential oils on cats.
These statements have not been approved by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Check with your vet before using natural remedies on a pet. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use essential oils unless directed to do so by a healthcare professional.