Essential oils can be very poisonous to cats.

January 16, 2018 / Cat's Meow / 3 Comments

Essential oils can be very poisonous to cats. Some are safer than others, and they can carry a wide range of toxic effects. Most of the most toxic oils to cats are the ones that contain "phenols". These include (but are not limited to): peppermint, lavender, citrus, tea tree, cinnamon, wintergreen, thyme, and many others. 

Essential oils are a concern for many reasons. Many will cause rashes and inflammation if applied directly to the skin. They are often also very irritating to the eyes and mucous membranes. Some may cause signs if ingested of absorbed through the skin, including seizures, liver failure, anemia, and death. 

Less serious signs are related to the effects of the oils on the lungs and skin- these include development or exacerbation of asthma or bronchitis, allergic reactions, and others. Remember that the sense of smell of cats is much stronger than in humans, meaning that what we find a mild, pleasant smell they may find intolerable or overpowering. 

Most of the data in cats involves direct contact or ingestion of essential oils. It is not always clear what the effect of inhalation of oils diffused at a distance, or diluted in a vaporizer may be. It is likely that even toxic oils may be safe if very dilute and far from a cat, but they may also remain toxic.

If you want to be safe and sure you will not cause issues, I recommend avoiding essential oils with cats in the house. If you must use them try to ensure they do not contain phenols, make sure they are dilute, far from the cat, and that there is no close physical contact between the cat and the oil.

Written by Dr.Matt Kornya


Leave a comment

Hello Erin. I checked with Dr.Matt and this was his response. "As long as there is no direct contact with the oils the risk is low. Especially diluted in coconut oil and wrapped in socks there should be minimal contact. Make sure the cat has no contact with the undiluted oil and try not to let him lick or smell the areas it has been applied to. "   Hope that helps Angie

Posted by Angelina Johnstone RVT on January 17 2018 @ 2:57 pm

My problem is I need those oils on the soles of my feet and nails due to bad fungus mixed with coconut oil. I put it on and put on heavy socks. My Bengal sleeps on top of me in bed. How bad is this for him? I need to get rid of my problem but don't want my boy sick.

Posted by Erin on January 17 2018 @ 11:41 am

Thank you so much Dr. Matt. I keep reading post on how some people use oils and I knew they were toxic. Having a qualified Dr.informing people will definitely help people to understand and hopefully save cats lives.

Posted by Virginia on January 16 2018 @ 10:42 pm