I’ve been getting mixed information about the safety of essential oils for kitties. Some websites say that they are safe as long as you’re not diffusing it or letting your cat lick you if you’ve used it topically, while others advise avoiding them completely if you own cats. What do you advise?
Cats are not able to break down many toxic chemicals, as they lack certain enzymes in the liver to do so. As such, felines are more susceptible to a wide range of these chemicals, which are present in some essential oils.
There are a great number of essential oils with different concentrations, formulations and combinations. It is important to know if additives have been added to the essentials. Choose only high quality essential oils that have been processed stringently by reputable companies. Do not use those that are pungent, “burn’’ the skin, or have high phenol content.
Essential oils that are safe for cats include cedarwood, rosemary, lemongrass, marjoram, geranium and lavender. Those that are high in phenols, eugenols or d-limonene like peppermint, tea tree, oregano, wintergreen and all citrus oils should be completely avoided. Do not apply them topically on yourself or Puss, and avoid diffusing them anywhere near your cat.
Whenever you introduce a new essential oil, start slow by diffusing a small amount near your cat to see if she sneezes, produces discharge from the nose or eyes, salivates, vomits, develops tremors, has difficulty breathing, or appears to be uncomfortable. If all is well, then you can try applying a highly diluted drop of essential oil on your kitty’s collar. Do not apply essential oils directly on your cat’s body and avoid daily use. As a rule of thumb, avoid applying any essential oil near the eyes, nose, mouth and parts of your body that Puss can easily access or lick.
Expert: Dr Tai Yesun BVSc (Sydney), MVS (Murdoch) MRCVS CVA GDBA Veterinary Surgeon Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist Nam Sang Veterinary Clinic