Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Do Cats Like Eucalyptus Scents? Facts & FAQ

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Maine Coon Cat Beside Eucalyptus Plant

Cats have an acute sense of smell. To put it in perspective, it is 14 times stronger than ours. Like humans, cats have their own biases when it comes to scents. They’d happily sniff catnip and lull in feline euphoria but avoid citrus and rosemary scents.

But what about eucalyptus? Do cats find the scent as appealing as you, or does it repulse them?

No, cats don’t like the scent of eucalyptus. The pungent smell is too strong for cats and often overwhelms them. Although some cats might like it in small amounts, most would find the smell unpleasant or downright unbearable. Keep reading to learn more about why cats don’t like eucalyptus scents.

What Is Eucalyptus?

Eucalyptus is a genus of trees found in the Myrtaceae family, native to Australia and parts of Asia. Its leaves are used for aromatherapy and natural medicine, while its wood and bark can be harvested for building materials.

The essential oils derived from eucalyptus have strong antiseptic properties and are thus found in many cleaning products. They’re also a key ingredient in many toothpaste brands and are partly responsible for the cooling effect you experience after brushing your teeth. Inhaling eucalyptus oil often triggers drowsiness, which is why you’ll find it in many sleep-aiding candles and diffusers.

Eucalyptus plant
Image Credit: pieonane, Pixabay

Why Don’t Cats Like Eucalyptus?

As mentioned earlier, cats have a much stronger sense of smell than humans. This means they’re very sensitive to strong smells like garlic and eucalyptus.

Your cat will steer clear of your room whenever you light eucalyptus candles. The same applies when you use eucalyptus oils in your diffusers or use eucalyptus air fresheners. These scents can overwhelm your cat’s senses and make them uncomfortable. Keep this up, and your pet might find a new home elsewhere.

Is Eucalyptus Dangerous to Cats?

Yes, eucalyptus is dangerous to cats—especially those with underlying health issues. Long-term exposure to eucalyptus oil could lead to breathing problems or even seizures. The health complications are caused by eucalyptol, a substance found in eucalyptus leaves. Some of these complications include:

  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Tremors
cat vomiting
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

Contact with eucalyptus oil can cause skin irritation, itchiness, and eye redness. The symptoms are usually temporary and will subside soon after exposure is limited. However, in rare cases, the reaction might be more severe and require prompt medical attention.

The good news is that cats naturally avoid eucalyptus, minimizing the chances of exposure. However, it’s hard for them to do so if you use a diffuser. A diffuser disperses the scent evenly around the room, making it impossible for your cat to avoid it. The tiny eucalyptus oil droplets may land on your cat’s fur. If licked off, your cat may experience an adverse reaction.

What Is Eucalyptus Poisoning in Cats?

Eucalyptus poisoning in cats is an acute reaction to the various chemicals found in eucalyptus oil. The severity of the symptoms depends on how much exposure your cat has had to the oil. Your cat may experience severe vomiting and nausea if it ingests a large amount of the oil. Other signs include loss of appetite, depression, drooling, and trembling.

If your cat is experiencing any of these symptoms after coming into contact with eucalyptus oil, seek immediate medical attention. Consulting a vet as soon as possible can help reduce the risk of long-term complications or even death.

cat vomiting white froth
Image Credit: Sarah2, Shutterstock

Can I Treat Eucalyptus Poisoning at Home?

It’s best to avoid self-medicating your cat if it has been exposed to eucalyptus oil. Consult a professional for the best course of action. If the symptoms are mild, you can administer small doses of activated charcoal or give your cat lots of fluids to flush out the toxins.

Always check with a vet before considering any home remedies. Additionally, it’s important to keep your cat away from further exposure by removing anything that contains eucalyptus oil, such as candles or air fresheners. This is especially true if your cat suffers from respiratory complications like asthma or has a weakened immune system.

What Are Some Viable Alternatives to Eucalyptus Scents?

Eucalyptus scents are harmful to your cats, but this doesn’t mean you have to get rid of all your candles and diffusers. Some safe scents to use around cats include:

  • Basil – Basil is believed to have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a safe choice for cats. It also has a pleasant yet subtle scent that won’t overpower your cat’s sensitive nose.
  • Fennel – Fennel has a sweet aroma that will make your house smell like a mix of citrus and licorice. It’s also a mild antiseptic, helping to keep your cat safe from germs and bacteria.
  • Hibiscus – Hibiscus has a delicate floral scent that will make your home inviting and pleasant. It’s also known to have calming and soothing effects, making it great for cats with anxiety or stress.
  • Thyme – Thyme has a pleasant aroma and is also known for its antiseptic properties. It’s great for your kitchen and living room and won’t repulse your cat. Thyme is mostly available as an essential oil, but you can also buy thyme-scented candles.
  • Sage – Sage has a fresh and herbaceous scent that will make your home smell amazing. It’s also known to have anti-inflammatory properties, making it a great choice for cats with allergies or asthma. Sage is a therapeutic aroma that won’t harm your cat and will make your space inviting for both you and your cat.
  • Jasmine – Jasmine is a sweet and calming scent that will make your space cozy. It’s also known to help with stress and insomnia, making it an ideal choice for cats with trouble sleeping.
cat smelling catnip
Image Credit: Kassel95, Pixabay

Final Thoughts

Eucalyptus scents are unsafe for cats and shouldn’t be used around them. While this essential oil will simply repulse some cats, others might develop complications that can be life-threatening. If your cat develops seizures, diarrhea, and vomiting, you might be dealing with eucalyptus poisoning. Contact a vet immediately.

Featured Image Credit: Bogdan Sonjachnyj, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database