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Are essential oils safe for cats?

Gerogico from Vancouver asked us:

Hello Claudine Sievert,

I read a number of your articles on Hepper.com magazine and me and my family are big fans of yours. This is why I would like to find out your opinion about essential oils for cats.


As Georgico did not specify any exact questions. We asked Dr. Sievert to write general precautions about cats and essential oils.

Are essential oils safe for cats?

The safety of essential oil for cats depends on its type. These oils are highly-concentrated plant substances advertised as natural treatments from anxiety and skin conditions (fleas or tick), but natural doesn’t mean safe when it comes to pets. Some smells are harmful or even poisonous for cats, so owners should be cautious when treating their four-legged friends with them. Veterinarian’s approval is a must.

Are essential oil diffusers safe for cats?

Cats are much more sensitive to scents than people: A cat’s sense of smell is between 9-16 times better than ours. So even if you chose a safe essential oil for a diffuser, its smell is still potent and might be overwhelming for a cat.

The molecules of essential oils are highly reactive with the compounds in a pet’s body. If you still want to use oil diffusers in-home, choose safe scents and place them in areas that a cat can’t access. And don’t use diffusers anywhere in the house if you have a cat with breathing problems.

What essential oils are bad for cats?

Here is the list of poisonous essential oils for cats:

  • Cinnamon oil
  • Citrus oil
  • Clove oil
  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Garlic oil
  • Melaleuca oil
  • Anise oil
  • Oil of Sweet Birch
  • Pennyroyal oil
  • Peppermint oil
  • Pine oils
  • Tea Tree oil – extra dangerous!
  • Wintergreen
  • Ylang Ylang

They are dangerous to cats even in small quantities, so alwaysask your vet for approval before using oils in a cat household.

What essential oils are safe for cats

There are no essential oils that are safe for cats.

How to best use essential oils with cats?

All cat owners are advice to have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to using the essential oils with cats. This may lead to intoxication and poisoning.

Have your own question?

Submit your own question about proper cat nutrition, behavior, or training and a veterinarian will give you an answer during the next 24 hours.

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