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Is Cedar Toxic to Cats? Keeping Your Cat Safe!

Melissa Gunter

By Melissa Gunter

Cedar tree portrait

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Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you own a cat, you’re constantly trying to learn more about substances, plants, trees, and even foods that are safe for your kitty to be around. There’s always something new to learn when it comes to your pets. One common question cat owners ask is about cedar. Is cedar toxic to cats?

While the effects of most cedar trees are mild if ingested by a cat, it may be best to avoid these trees altogether if you aren’t well-versed on which ones are safe. To help you better understand the dangers involved when having your kitty around cedar, let’s learn why cedar can be toxic and what you should do if you discover your feline friend has ingested cedar or cedar oil.

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About Cedar Trees

While several trees are tossed in the cedar tree family, there are actually only four true species of cedar; the Cyprus cedar, the Deodar cedar, the Atlas cedar, and the Lebanon cedar. These true cedars are members of the Cedrus family of trees and are found growing in the mountains of the Mediterranean and the Himalayas. The “cedar” trees found here in North America belong to the Cypress family of trees.

Another tree from the Meliaceae family that is often referred to as white cedar, is the Chinaberry tree. Other names you may hear come into play when referring to this tree are; the Bead tree, China ball tree, Paradise tree, Japanese Bead tree, Persian lilac, Pride-of-India, and Texas Umbrella tree. Unfortunately, this tree, found in the US and often called a cedar, is possibly the biggest danger your kitty may face from a cedar tree.

The fruit of the white cedar is considered to be toxic but the leaves, bark, and other parts of the tree can also cause an issue if ingested by a feline.

northern white cedar tree
Image credit; Nadya So, Shutterstock

Other Cedar Trees That May be Dangerous

While the white cedar may be considered one of the most dangerous cedar trees to have around cats, that doesn’t mean it’s the only one. The Eastern red cedar and the Western red cedar are 2 other types of cedar trees that can be dangerous if ingested by your cat.

You may wonder why certain types of cedar trees are dangerous for cats when others aren’t. This is due to the phenols found inside. This substance can be found in antiseptics and certain cleaning products found around the house. They are also often used in essential oils. Unfortunately, your cat cannot properly metabolize phenols, making them dangerous and sometimes toxic if ingested by your pet.

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Do Cats Like Cedar Trees?

If you’ve ever brought a cedar tree into your home to use for Christmas, you may have noticed your cat didn’t seem too fond of it. Instead of trying to cause the normal holiday chaos of climbing the tree or chewing on the limbs, you may have noticed your kitty preferred to stay away. Let’s take a look at why.

The Smell

Cats are quite particular when it comes to smells. More often than not, your kitty may not enjoy the strong scent cedar trees bring to your life. While not all cats are on the same page when it comes to this dislike, it’s common to have a feline in your home that prefers to avoid most cedar trees.

Cedar tree with cones
Image Credit: Flav66, Pixabay


The needles on cedar trees deter many cats, but can also be quite dangerous. When attracted to a cedar tree your cat may be poked and prodded by these needles. This can lead to injuries to their eyes and skin that could require medical attention.

What Happens If My Cat Ingests Cedar?

When your kitten happens to nibble on a non-toxic cedar tree, you may notice a bit of an upset stomach. This can happen with any tree your kitty decides it wants to investigate. Unfortunately, if your cat happens to interact with white cedar, an Eastern red cedar, or a Western red cedar the level of gastrointestinal upset can become more dangerous, and neurotoxicity signs such as seizures can also be seen. This is more likely with the ingestion of cedar oil.  If you feel your kitty has ingested any parts of these trees or especially cedar oil, it is best to take them to the vet so they can closely monitor any changes in their health or behavior.

a cat that feels sick and seems to vomit
Image By: chie hidaka, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

While not every cedar tree is dangerous to your cat, nor are they considered a true cedar tree, it is important to know which ones can be potential threats. If you’re unsure, it may be best to avoid planting one of these trees in your backyard. Keep in mind that furniture, pet shavings, and even some essential oils are made from cedar. Always be alert when bringing in a new product to your home around your fur baby.


Featured Image Credit: KarinKarin, Pixabay

Melissa Gunter

Authored by

Melissa was born and raised in the mountains of East Tennessee where she spent her time writing in an old notebook and playing outside with her pets. As an avid animal lover, she has brought many into her home over the years. Currently, she is the mom of 5 fur babies. Her 2 cats, Princess and Pepper are total opposites who demand attention. Her dogs Jazzy, Whitey, and Demon are full of spunk and keep the entire family on ...Read more

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