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Essential oils and cats

Particular traits of cats

Cats are highly sensitive to essential oils and these can be very harmful even deadly. Take care to have your bottles of essential oils safely put away so that your cat cannot reach them (tea tree essential oil, for example, can be deadly for a cat)


This sensitivity is due to its physiology:
  • He has a particular organ that allows the detection of pheromones. This organ takes in odours by letting air through its passage. Essential oils that are very volatile and odorous could overload this organ. You can notice the result as a change in behaviour going from aggressiveness to apathy.


  • He lacks a hepatic enzyme able to degrade certain molecules and render them soluble. Once this is achieved it allows him to evacuate these through the bile or urine. As a result, all essential oils containing phenol will be eliminated very slowly (several days for a cat as opposed to a few hours for a dog).


  • The higher the dose and the length of exposure, the more overloaded the liver becomes. The cat is then in danger of toxic hepatitis which can lead to his death.


  • For that reason, since a cat licks itself for cleaning purposes, he cannot have essential oils sprayed on his coat.


Which essential oils are safe and bad to cats?

Talk with your vet, you may be able to use EO for your cat but with many precautions remembering the need for pauses and controlling the good functioning of its organism:

  • the choice of the EO and its dilution,
  • the method of application,
  • the number of daily applications,
  • the duration of administration,
  • Just as a precaution and to avoid misuse, we advise you not to use essential oils with cats. It is preferable to ask the advice of a veterinarian and avoid all self-medication

Atmospheric route:

diffusionAre essential oils safe to diffuse around cats?

It is the best way to initiate the animal to EO. By accustoming him regularly and beginning with LOW doses of gentle EO for a very SHORT time. Do not burn EO in an incense burner or other technique of heating because they lose all their effectiveness and their residue can become toxic.


Dermal route:

dermal allowedCats do not like being sprayed with products. The best place to put drops of EO on the skin is behind the ears on the neck area with anti-parasite pipettes thus avoiding licking. EO enter the skin quickly and spread to the sub-coetaneous tissue and even the blood circulation. If applied pure, EO risk to irritate the skin, it is, therefore, preferable to dilute them in alcohol (or oil but it will make the coat sticky).

Another possible solution is to soak his collar with a few drops of diluted EO.

For wounds or local lesions, the application of diluted EO with a cotton bud is very practical. EO being very volatile, they evaporate quickly and they are also quickly absorbed by the skin. The risk of ingestion is thus minimal if one stops the cat from licking himself for 10 minutes after application.

It is strongly advised not to apply EO on the skin daily. Rather 3 to 5 days in a week for example to avoid liver saturation or skin irritation.

The use of hydrosols is a very good choice for cats who react badly to essential oils as they present fewer risks.


Intoxication by EO:

  • Origin:

Happily, the accidental ingestion of essential oils is rare. They taste very badly and the cat will salivate immediately, even sometimes vomit which will make the amount ingested minimal.

  • Symptoms:

In general, these are skin lesions: redness as much as 1st degree burns caused by EO with phenol and aromatic aldehydes especially if applied undiluted. A loss of fur may ensue which can be temporary or permanent. As a precaution, you should make a test on a small part of the body.

  • Care:

In the case of external intoxication, water rinsing is useless as EO do not dissolve in water. You need to shampoo the cat to remove it but the best solution is to apply vegetable oil generously on the fur before washing it.

In the case of oral intoxication, the cat needs to swallow some vegetable oil to will dilute the EO (sunflower, olive or better still, paraffin oil as the latter is not digested and is fully expelled in the stools).

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