6 Essential Oil Safety Tips for Cat Owners

I love using essential oils. But when you have cats in your home you must be careful of what you use. Rachel from The Essential Girl blog is here to share her research regarding toxic essential oils.

Curiosity killed the cat. And essential oils can too if you’re not careful.

We all love our feline friends, but they have an uncanny knack for getting into things they shouldn’t. So it’s our job as responsible pet owners to be in the know about what’s dangerous for them and then keep it far far away from their cute little noses.

Read on for 6 essential oil safety tips to keep your cat safe (without throwing away all your essential oils).

Want to learn more about using essential oils with your cat? Take my free essential oils for pets email course! Inside I cover why using essential oils with your pets can be so beneficial, common mistakes people make when using essential oils with their pets, and I answer all of YOUR burning questions! Just click below to get started.

Cats are Sensitive to Certain Essential Oils

Researchers have identified two major categories of essential oils that are more dangerous to cats than other mammals (such as humans, dogs or horses). The reason these essential oils are more dangerous to cats lies in the physiology of their liver. Cats lack an enzyme (glucuronyl tranferase) that in other animals helps to process and break down certain components of these essential oils. Due to the concentrated nature of essential oils, toxic buildup of these components occurs and can ultimately be fatal. [1]

If you’ve already used essential oils on/around your cat, don’t worry! If your cat hasn’t shown any symptoms of toxic buildup, they will likely be alright. Many oils are safe for cats, and even if you’ve used a toxic one your cat will probably be ok if you discontinue the unsafe use immediately, because it takes time for toxic buildup to occur.

Dangerous Components

So what are the components that make specific oils so dangerous to cats? They fall into two categories called phenols and monoterpene hydrocarbons.

Phenol

[Also known as carbolic acid, phenol describes a group of aromatic organic compounds consisting of a phenyl group bound to a hydroxyl group. Although similar in molecular structure to an alcohol, phenols have their hydroxyl group attached to an aromatic hydrocarbon ring, whereas an alcohol’s hydroxyl group is bound to a saturated carbon atom.]

It turns out phenols can be pretty toxic to humans too. They are corrosive to the skin, eyes, and are irritants to the respiratory tract. [2] But this isn’t too surprising, given the safety warnings that come with high-phenol oils (Cinnamon, Clove, Thyme, Oregano, Savory). These oils are generally recommended for use at the lowest dilution of 1%. If used at a higher dilution, there is a risk of burning your skin or respiratory tract, depending on how you’re using it. Most websites recommend only using higher dilutions for very short periods of time when higher effectiveness is needed (such as getting rid of a particularly bad cold).

While humans can tolerate these oils is small amounts (due to our liver having the ability to filter out the phenols), cats have a much lower tolerance, and exposure of your cat to these oils should be as limited as possible.

Monoterpene Hydrocarbons

[Terpenes are a very large class of organic compounds commonly produced in plants. Monoterpenes are within this class and consist of two isoprene units (which are a more basic organic compound produced by plants). Monoterpene hydrocarbon refers to a monoterpene attached to an aromatic hydrocarbon ring (what else has an aromatic hydrocarbon ring?… phenols!)] 

Other than phenols, oils containing monoterpene hydrocarbons can be toxic to cats. So what oils contain monoterpene hydrocarbons? Unfortunately, many. Here’s a list of monoterpene hydrocarbons found in essential oils, and the oils that contain these components.

  • Terpineol: cajuput oil, pine oil, and petigrain oil
  • Limonene: Very common in citrus oils
  • Pinene: pine oil (obviously), and other coniferous plants such as fir.

Using Pure Essential Oils is Key

Often, essential oils producers will dilute their oils with additives to bring down the price of the oil. Many of these additives are toxic to cats (and humans to an extent). So if you find that your cat is reacting to an oil not listed as toxic, it could be that the oil is not pure.

But how do you know you’re buying pure oils? There’s currently no way to know for sure unless you’re bottling the oils yourself. Many of you may know that there isn’t very much regulation when it comes to the quality of essential oils (i.e. something like “theraputic grade” means nothing because no outside body sets standards to meet). However there are things to check about a company that are an instant indication of diluted oils.

  • Do they bottle their own oils? Many companies buy pure oils and then dilute them before re-bottling them and selling them at lower prices.
  • How much information do they provide about their process? While some companies provide no information (which could mean anything), others specify their methods and even tell you where the plants used to make oils are sourced from.
  • How much do they charge? Ok, now this one is a little less specific, but if something is too cheap to believe, you probably shouldn’t believe it. Too-low prices point to extensive dilutions (because no one is going to sell their products for a loss).

6 Essential Oil Safety Tips for Cat Owners

6 Essential Oil Safety Tips for Cat Owners | Did you know that some essential oils are toxic to cats?? I didn't at first, but I'm so glad that I know now! Click through for a list of essential oils toxic to cats, as well as some tips for keeping them away from kitty without having to throw them out!Just because an oil is toxic to cats does not mean that you can never use it in your home. However it does mean that certain precautions will need to be taken to ensure your cat is not exposed to the oil. Here’s a list of tips to help keep your cat safe:

1.Never diffuse a toxic oil in your home. 

When an oil is diffused into the air, whether with an ultrasonic diffuser or a spray air freshener, there is a high potential that your cat will inhale the oil, same as you (that’s kind of the point of diffusing and air fresheners). The components of the oil that are toxic will be able to make their way into your cat’s body very easily through inhalation, so don’t even allow your cat to sniff toxic oils while you are using them. If you must use an essential oil by inhalation, try putting a few drops in a bowl of steaming hot water and then covering your head and bowl with a towel and breathe in the vapor. (Make sure there isn’t so much steam that you will burn your face – use your common sense). Make sure to do this in a room away from your cat.

For more alternative diffusion methods, check out this post.

2. Never pet your cat after applying essential oils to your skin.

If there is any residual oil on your hands, it can get on their fur, and when they go to give themselves a bath they will ingest it. So be cautious and wash your hands well after applying oils, as well as making sure to keep the skin that you applied the oils on covered so that your cat does not rub up against you and get the oils on their fur that way.

3. Keep all your oils (toxic or not) stored where your cat cannot reach them.

We all know that cats are very curious and mischievous beings, capable of getting into almost anything. Even if your oils are sealed tightly, there is a likelihood that there will be residual oil on the bottle that your cat could lick off or get on their fur. So keep your oils in a closed cabinet or drawer that you are 100% certain your cat cannot break into. (Also for those of you with small children, remember that your kids could get into the oils and inadvertently expose your cat, so keep your oils out of reach of little hands as well).

4. Don’t use toxic oils to clean anything your cat could lick or rub.

When you use essential oils as cleaners (as with any cleaner) a residue is left on the surface. If your cat rubs against this surface or licks it, they can easily end up ingesting some of the toxic oil. So for example, it is ok to use toxic oils to clean your showehead, but not your kitchen counter (I’ve never met a cat that doesn’t like to lick dirty dishes left on the counter when you aren’t home).

5. Don’t leave out dishes that have touched toxic oils.

For those of you that cook with essential oils, it is important to put away or clean these dishes immediately after use because, as mentioned above, I’ve never met a cat that doesn’t love licking leftover food off the dirty dishes in the sink.

6. Use higher dilutions when possible

Even with all these precautionary measures, exposure of your cat could still happen, so use your toxic oils as diluted as possible for them to still be effective. This way, accidental exposure of your cat to the oil is less likely to be enough to cause a toxic buildup.

For more information on how to dilute your oils, check out this post.

Even if you have been using one of these toxic oils around your cat and your cat has been fine, you should NOT continue use. Toxic buildup happens over long periods of time, and in most cases there are no symptoms until it is too late.

List of Oils Toxic to Cats

Cinnamon Clove Thyme Oregano
Savory Cajuput Pine Petegrain
Lemon Lime Orange Grapefruit
Bergamot Mandarin Tangerine Neroli
Fir Cypress Juniper Spruce
Tea Tree Birch Bitter Almond Boldo
Calamus Camphor Cassia Chenopodium
Garlic Horseradish Mustard Tansy
Wintergreen Peppermint Sassafras Rue

Looking for this list in printable form? I’ve got you covered (plus you can get access to my entire library of free printables). Just click here!

Note: While I have done a lot of research and compiled a list that most sources seemed to agree on, I cannot guarantee that an essential oil not on this list is automatically safe for cats. When in doubt, limit use around your cat, and never apply it directly to your cat’s fur or skin. 

Whew! That’s a lot of information to take in. Congrats on making it to the end! What tips and tricks have you guys implemented to keep your kitty safe? Let me know in the comments below!

Read more about using essential oils to prevent and kill fleas.

Want to learn more about using essential oils with your cat? Take my free essential oils for pets email course! Inside I cover why using essential oils with your pets can be so beneficial, common mistakes people make when using essential oils with their pets, and I answer all of YOUR burning questions! Just click below to get started.

References:

  1. Addie DD, Boucraut-Baralon C, Egberink H, Frymus T, Gruffydd-Jones T, Hartmann K, Horzinek MC, Hosie MJ, Lloret A, Lutz H, Marsilio F, Pennisi MG, Radford AD, Thiry E, Truyen U, Möstl K; European Advisory Board on Cat Diseases. Disinfectant choices in veterinary practices, shelters and households: ABCD guidelines on safe and effective disinfection for feline environments. J Feline Med Surg. 2015 Jul;17(7):594-605.
  2. Budavari, S, ed. (1996). “The Merck Index: An Encyclopedia of Chemical, Drugs, and Biologicals”. Whitehouse Station, NJ: Merck

 

About Rachel:

The-Essential-Girl-Profile-Photo

Rachel is a blogger and bioengineering masters student who lives in Clemson, SC (go tigers!). Her two passions are health and science, and she blends them masterfully in her blog The Essential Girl, where she writes about the science behind essential oils and sorts through the hearsay about clean living.

When she’s not blogging or sciencing the shit out of something in the lab, she likes to drink tea, nom on popcorn, and binge Netflix with her soon-to-be astrophysicist boyfriend.

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168 Comments

  1. pilch92
    February 15, 2016 / 6:41 pm

    Excellent post! It seems like essential oils are the “in” thing right now so this post is very important. I am super cautious and choose not to have any in my home.

    • February 15, 2016 / 10:02 pm

      Thank you pilch92! I definitely understand about wanting to be cautious – only the best for the fur babies!

    • Essenceofoils
      April 13, 2017 / 3:24 am

      I have 3 cats and diffuse whatever I am in the mood for :-) My cats are all fine and I’ve never had a problem. I use Young Living Essential Oils which are “pure” and I wouldn’t trust any other brand .

      • mrsmustache
        April 18, 2017 / 7:00 am

        How long have you been using them with your cats in the home? I just became a member of Young Living and want to keep my cat safe as well?

        • April 18, 2017 / 3:10 pm

          I also use Young Living oils, and I only diffuse oils that I know are safe for my cat. All oils are NOT safe for animals, even though the majority of YL users will say they are. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Also, I only use “non-safe” oils on myself when I’m out of the house. Otherwise, I inhale them. Please be safe.

          • Amanda Henderson
            May 3, 2017 / 9:56 pm

            Which oils do you diffuse that are considered cat safe?

      • Jennifer
        June 1, 2017 / 7:12 pm

        Cats can be asymptomatic until it’s too late. Toxic levels of oils could be building up in your cat’s liver. If you are comfortable with the risks, that’s your business. I would never risk the life of my family member for my own selfishness.

  2. February 18, 2016 / 5:10 pm

    Why is peppermint on the list? After all, CatNip IS part of the mint family of herbs that cats ingest, and seeing peppermint is in that same family of plants, this one puzzles me. I have yet to see any cat or kitten get ill or sick from a candy cane {peppermint} or is there something else in the peppermint oil that would be the culprit. And I don’t recall seeing strawberry on the list above, yet, I’ve read that they are also toxic to cats, but then I see so many different sites that one will say something is toxic, another it isn’t. So how in the world can any of us really be certain what is truly toxic and what isn’t. Not that I want to take a chance, but I do know my cats have eaten candy canes, again peppermint and never suffered any ill effects from ingesting them when they’ve gotten hold of one or two.

    • February 18, 2016 / 9:11 pm

      Peppermint is on the list because it contains small amounts of limonene and pinene, which are monoterpene hydrocarbons. (Ref) Catnip also contains these compounds in similarly small amounts (see same reference). I think the difference is that when you make an essential oil, you are effectively super-concentrating the plant (or whatever else you’re making the oil from), which is why they are volatile and must be used in such small amounts. So when you give a cat some catnip, they are getting FAR less of those compounds which are toxic, and would have to eat exorbitant amounts of catnip to experience the toxic buildup. And in terms of the candy canes, most of the peppermint used in those is pretty dilute compared to a pure essential oil, and plus it is then diluted among the volume of the candy. However, if it did happen to be more concentrated, you might not see any adverse affects until there was a considerable buildup in the cat’s system.

      I’m not so sure in terms of incense, but I do know that heat has an effect on the molecular structure of the molecules of an essential oil, generally degrading it. (Ref) So it is possible that it is degraded enough that the toxic components may not longer be toxic to cats (if it contained any in the first place), however this source suggests the overall the heating of an essential oil renders it more toxic and less effective. So if you are burning incense sticks that are soaked in essential oils, I would recommend against it, but if you are burning resins that is a bit different because they aren’t as volatile or as easily degraded. I don’t know too much about incense or what they use to make those sticks, but I hope this helps some!

      • kle5071
        December 24, 2016 / 7:27 pm

        I agree with Cataptra I’ve been reading so much contradicting information about which oils are toxic and which are safe. One site in particular said Lemon and other citrus oils were toxic(which seems to be the only unanimous conclusion in the research I’ve done) but then went on to say Lemongrass was safe. Call me crazy but isn’t Lemongrass a citrus oil? This brings me to my main question which is: Are blends with some of these “toxic” oils harmful to diffuse around cats? Does it depend on how much of the blend is made up of toxic oils vs safe oils? Is it then safer to use less drops of these oils in a diffuser? Would it be as harmful as diffusing the toxic oil alone?
        I’ve been using young living essential oils as I noticed you do as well from your picture. Do you have a list of safe oils from their blends? I would appreciate any insight into this as I obviously don’t want to cause harm to my two kitties.
        Kristie

        • December 27, 2016 / 5:55 am

          Kristie,
          Interestingly, lemongrass is not a citrus, it’s actually part of the grass family. However, as I found when another reader commented, lemongrass oil should be on the toxic list, as it can contain anywhere between 3-5% of a monoterpene hydrocarbon called β-myrcene.
          I would recommend not using any blend containing an oil on the toxic list long term, as it is unclear just how much it takes for toxic buildup to occur and could differ from animal to animal. However for short term or one-time uses, using blends that contain less than 25% toxic oil and then also using less drops of those oils will likely be alright. In terms of young living, I don’t believe a ‘safe’ list exists in relation to how their oils affect cats.

      • KIMBERLY
        December 27, 2016 / 11:59 pm

        so does this mean I can’ diffuse peppermint or have a peppermint plant if i have cats

        • December 28, 2016 / 2:52 am

          A peppermint plant should be alright, especially if your cats aren’t trying to eat it. However, diffusing peppermint oil into the air is very likely to cause toxic buildup in your cats because the oil is so much more concentrated than the tiny bit in the plant.

    • homeopetmom
      February 27, 2017 / 2:56 am

      Basically, this post contains so much erroneous information I could compose pages of documented cases. Essential oils are use with great efficacy and safety for cats. I personally utilize them for my own as well as clients’ cats and within my nonprofit animal rescue organization. However, education about the proper methods and oil types (this was I admit wonderfully presented here) is paramount or working with reputable and trusted holistic animal healthcare practitioners. It saddens me that a great many amazing healing modalities are overlooked or dismissed as “hooey” because of the plethora of misinformation and scarey articles against it. :(

      • February 28, 2017 / 3:32 am

        If you have access to these resources, I’d honestly like to see them, as I have been unable to find reputable, unbiased sources on the safety of essential oils containing phenols and monoterpene hydrocarbons in cats. Due to this, I took a ‘better safe than sorry’ approach to the article.

        • amy knarr
          June 5, 2017 / 5:28 pm

          Me too.

      • Sarafina
        July 26, 2017 / 8:31 pm

        Yes, please please provide further information for those of that really benefit from essential oils but don’t want to hurt our cats.

    • Krassi
      July 23, 2017 / 10:39 am

      My cat nearly died because of peppermint oil. I was diffusing it for my daughter while having headaches without knowing it would affect my adorable cat. We ended up visiting our vet who helped save our cat’s life.

      • July 25, 2017 / 5:56 pm

        So glad to hear your cat is safe now!

  3. February 18, 2016 / 5:15 pm

    Oh forgot to ask, what about incense? Those cones or sticks you ignite with a match or lighter. We’ve always used a wide assortment of them in our home and have not had any issues with any of our cats falling ill to them. Are they the same as these essential oils, or are they different, if not, is there a list on them somewhere

    BTW: I find it difficult to read these pages because the emblems on the left of the screen block the text and make it almost impossible to read the articles,the ones for all the media social sites, e-mail, etc. There should be a way to turn those off so one could read the article much easier without them blocking the text.

    • February 18, 2016 / 9:51 pm

      Thanks for the questions and letting me know about the difficulty reading. Are you viewing on a desktop or mobile? I don’t see that when I have view the site on various sources. But I will defiantly look into it to make it consistent.

      • Melissa Peterson
        July 23, 2017 / 6:34 pm

        Hi. Those big tabs (emblems) on the left are still there and do make it difficult to read on the page. I am using a 13″ laptop.

  4. February 22, 2016 / 7:17 am

    Thank you very much for this very informative and important information I love my cats very much and am always greatful for good advice

      • February 23, 2016 / 12:25 am

        And thanks to you, Jenna, for helping me reach an audience that seems to be truly helped by it! :) Susan, so glad you found it helpful.

  5. Mary
    February 23, 2016 / 4:38 pm

    Thank you for this. I have a felt heart pomander thing I made that I put orange and lemongrass oils on. It’s hung out of reach of the cats but it smells strong. Should I get rid of it?

    • February 23, 2016 / 4:54 pm

      I would say yes. The reason anything has a smell is because small molecules of it get into the air and then into our noses. So it is very likely that your cats are inhaling these molecules and they are getting into their systems, which can eventually cause that toxic buildup.

      • Mary
        February 23, 2016 / 4:59 pm

        Thank you, the pomander and the oils are now in the bin.
        Lavender is ok isn’t it?

        • February 23, 2016 / 5:06 pm

          As far as I know, lavender is alright.

          • Mary
            February 23, 2016 / 5:26 pm

            Thank you! I’ll still use it away from the cats, if I use it at all.

          • February 23, 2016 / 5:31 pm

            You’re welcome! Glad I could help.

          • Angela
            July 8, 2017 / 1:56 am

            So would lavender in a diffuser be ok? Or dont diffuse at all?

          • July 21, 2017 / 3:16 pm

            Yes, lavender is alright, as long as you are buying a pure lavender oil. Lavender is the most commonly adulterated oil on the market, so you must be sure you’re buying from a reputable company. I have a post where I talk about the best companies here.

  6. February 28, 2016 / 1:14 am

    Rachel – great post! As a cat behaviorist I often recommend certain scents (citrus, mint, cinnamon) to discourage kitties from scratching furniture or keep them out of a specific area. But I know that essential oils are dangerous for cats, so I always tell my clients to not use them – instead, I suggest they simply soak orange peels and/or mint leaves in water, then spray the area with that (not the cat, of course). Do you think that the oils in something dilute as that are ok? Additionally, do you have any recommendations for alternative scented sprays that could do the same job, but that aren’t dangerous to kitties? I’d like to be able to recommend something effective yet safe to my clients. Thanks! :)

    • February 28, 2016 / 2:51 am

      Thanks Marci!
      I think that what you recommend for your clients is dilute enough. Plus, as you know since these are used as deterrents, cats generally avoid the oils that are bad for them, so they won’t be exposing themselves to much of that already dilute solution. The reason essential oils are especially dangerous is because of their super-concentrated nature. I don’t personally know of any alternative sprays, but I think what you’re doing is alright.

      • February 29, 2016 / 6:48 am

        Thanks, Rachel! I appreciate your advice! :)

  7. pilch92
    March 5, 2016 / 7:39 pm

    Excellent post. I avoid all oils, but I recently used a calming spray on a feral that contained limonene- someone commented on my post about it. I need to email the company and find out about that.

  8. March 6, 2016 / 4:06 am

    Thanks for an informative post. I just became involved with essential oils and have been looking for some comprehensive info such as this. I will definitely print this info and refer to it frequently, especially before diffusing. I had peppermint in my diffuser when I started readig this and shut it off!

    • Rachel
      March 6, 2016 / 4:33 pm

      Lola, glad you liked it! It means a lot to me to hear that I’m helping you. I hope you found the link to the printable list of oils? It’s right underneath the table of oils in the post.

      • March 10, 2016 / 8:48 pm

        I wasn’t able to access the printable list of toxic oils, but I”ll just cut and paste from this post. Rachel, I will definitely read your blog and possibly reach out to you as I just recently started using Young Living oils.

        • March 10, 2016 / 9:10 pm

          Lola,
          The printable list is part of my library of resources for my subscribers. The link should have taken you to page to sign up for that (if not let me know). I’m glad you’ve liked my blog, and I’m happy to answer any questions you might have!

        • March 10, 2016 / 9:13 pm

          Ah ok good! Glad you like them!

  9. Michele
    March 17, 2016 / 12:16 pm

    Is it okay if I have these essential oils as an ingredient in my own personal shampoo and conditioner or could sniffing my head build up in the cats liver?

    • March 17, 2016 / 1:57 pm

      I think that this is probably alright. It’s already pretty diluted in your hair products, and then you wash most of it out. In my opinion they would get more of the molecules in their bodies by sniffing an orange (if your products happened to be orange scented lol), which is not harmful to them. Bottom line: don’t worry about this. :)

      • May 4, 2017 / 1:31 am

        i would add to that … if your cat drinks out of your bathtub, you need to be sure to clean it well every time.

  10. Bianca
    August 3, 2016 / 5:35 am

    We have an abundance of mosquitoes this year and I truly dislike the idea of putting toxic poison on my cats’ skin to keep them safe from fleas, ticks and mosquito bites that can lead to heart worm. I am grateful I found this description of toxic oils for cats, but what vets prescribe and sell to put on cats to prevent flea and tick and heart worm is highly toxic! What is natural that I can use, healthy and safe for my cats? Thank You!

    • August 9, 2016 / 3:49 pm

      Hi Bianca!
      Good question! While many oils are toxic to cats, there are some insecticidal oils that are not. These include cedarwood, rosemary, and catnip. There is a really great article about non-toxic ways to control fleas on cats here: http://www.christinedemerchant.com/fleas_in_cats-natural-control.html This article includes several options for controlling fleas, such as home cleanliness practices, that involve no insecticides at all. I think a combination of these things should be sufficient to control fleas.

  11. Joyce
    August 13, 2016 / 8:41 am

    Essential oils have been very good for me and my husband. I presently have 4 cats and have always had several cats. I’ve never had a problem with essential oils and cats. Mine love the peppermint. If I put any under my nose the cats go crazy trying to jump on me to lick it. It’s never hurt any of them to lick it. I feed them organic food, they love wheat grass, strawberries and organic yogurt. They are very healthy 8 year olds and very active. I would think the flea medications and rotted foods that cats eat when they get into in the trash would be far worse than essential oils. My cats won’t eat meat at all. They snub their noses to it. But love certain fruits n sweet potatoes. Weird! I don’t understand the scare on essential oils cuz none of them have harmed my cats ever. I use strait cassia bark oil and cinnamon straight non diluted on everything in the house. It smells wonderful. This is the first I have ever heard of this.

    I also feed them diatamacious earth every once in awhile to make sure they have no parasites. I just bought some lemon grass to repel fleas and the organic store says it’s no problem to put it on the back of their necks like you would flea medicine. I came on here to find out how much to use or if I should dilute it. And eucalyptus also. I’ll have to do some more research cuz I have not ever had a problem with any of our cats having any negative effects to these oils ever. It seems that the roads and cars have been the worse dangers for our outside cats. And old age for our inside cats. I also make sure they drink 99.9 percent pure spring water. No filtered garbage or tap/toilet water. And sometimes I give them a little iodine. They are healthier than other cats their same age so maybe I’m doing something right. ??
    I mean I don’t want to hurt them but I don’t understand all this about the oils. Shouldn’t my cats be sick or dead by now if this is really true?

    • October 19, 2016 / 7:34 pm

      I think there are a lot of variables here that could be contributing to you not seeing much of an effect. The first thing I think of is that you may not be using pure essential oils. So many companies dilute the heck out of their oils, so that would lower the exposure level of your cats to start with. In addition, some cats will be more sensitive to specific oils than others, simply due to individual variability (same way some people are more sensitive to different allergens).

      Also, you do need to take into account that this toxic buildup can take many years to occur in some cases, depending on the level of exposure. It is possible that you haven’t seen any effect yet because the exposure level is just really low.

      I can’t comment on anything else you’re doing for their health, but in the end, you know your cats better than anyone else, and if you and your vet agree that your cats are healthy and happy and that these oils aren’t having unseen effects, then I wouldn’t worry too much.

    • Fuzzy
      April 23, 2017 / 10:52 pm

      Your cats eat meat, or they’d up and die.
      Do some research.
      This is really ignorant and ridiculous thinking your cats don’t like meat…
      Cats do not need fruits and vegetables. They get their nutrition from MEAT!
      They are pure carnivores.

  12. Lisa
    September 6, 2016 / 11:44 pm

    Im concerned i’ve harmed my cat. I natural healer recommended adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil to their collar as a flea, tick, mite etc repellant – however following doing this last week i have now noticed my cat has sore skin under his collar! I feel terrible and wish to sooth this for him however am now confussed about what is okay/safe to apply to help this.

    Many thanks, Lisa

    • Rachel
      September 9, 2016 / 5:10 pm

      Hi Lisa,

      I would recommend removing the collar immediately, first of all. Then I would apply coconut oil to the affected area (just a little). This is the safest/gentlest way to soothe raw skin, and won’t harm your cat or any other cats that lick it off.

      If the sore doesn’t go away or show signs of improvement in a few days, then I’d seek professional help from a licensed vet.

  13. September 17, 2016 / 10:59 pm

    Is litter with pine ok?
    Arm and Hammer makes it.

    • September 22, 2016 / 6:23 pm

      Yes pine used in litter is a great litter option. There are many pine litters on the market. I use wood burning pellets as cat litter, I have a post about it here.

  14. Maree
    September 23, 2016 / 12:55 pm

    Thank-you for your post. The most comprehensive I’ve found since I’ve started looking. I’m only just getting good into using essential oils for my health both with diffusing and diluting
    I have a thyroid problem and diffuse Frankensence and lavendar when I sleep and Frankensence and ylang-ylang dusing the day to help with my condition
    My cat is an indoor cat.
    I’ve noticed no lists I’ve read that list these oils as toxic for cats.
    Do you know if they are.
    If not I will be using them in smaller amounts i think in the diffuser from now on in case she is affected.
    I’m finding relief but hate to think I might be causing her harm.
    Thank you Maree

    • September 23, 2016 / 2:05 pm

      Hi Maree,
      I’m fairly certain that frankincense and lavender are both safe to use around cats. I haven’t ever seen them on lists that are toxic to cats either, and they do not contain the compounds listed in this post (in any significant amount if at all). While some cats may be more sensitive to the scent of essential oils, as long as you don’t notice that your cat is having any adverse reactions I’d say that it is safe to continue use.

      • Lola The Rescued Cat
        December 12, 2016 / 8:30 pm

        I use Frankincense frequently and am glad to get another opinion that it is safe.

  15. Katie Anderson
    October 19, 2016 / 2:56 pm

    Thanks for your helpful article. I’d avoided getting a vaping scent diffuser as I’d read they can be bad for cats, but I do have one of those scent stick diffusers on a high up shelf in the bathroom. Are they as bad/dangerous for cats?
    Also, it’s grapefruit and mimosa which made me worry more as grapefruit is on your list of oils that are toxic for cats. Please let me know if you think I should remove this scent stick diffuser.

    Many thanks, Katie

    • October 19, 2016 / 7:23 pm

      Katie, I don’t know a ton about those sorts of diffusers, but in my opinion they aren’t as efficient at distributing the oil into the air, so the effective radius is smaller. Therefore your cats would probably have to be consistently close to it for it to affect them. If they tend to spend a lot of time in that bathroom, I’d say remove it, but if they rarely go in there it will probably be ok.

  16. Kathy w
    October 30, 2016 / 8:59 pm

    Oh noooo. I’ve been diffusing clove oil around my house. My whole house smells and I love the way it smells. Would a few drops in water hurt them? Of course I will stop immediately. Could I have already done any damage? I have one skidish kitty who is “jumper” than usual. I’d be devastated if this has harmed them :(

    • November 1, 2016 / 11:05 pm

      Hi Kathy, I would definitely recommend stopping the whole-house diffusing immediately. While it’s hard to tell if damage has already been done, long-term exposure at that level would definitely be harmful. If you’re worried that one of your kitties is responding badly to the clove, consult with your vet to determine if it’s simply a behavioral change or a reaction to the oil.

    • MK
      July 1, 2017 / 4:59 am

      I recommend strongly to stop using Clove oil. Earlier this year I started using essential oils and loved cinnamon oil a lot around my house for about a month. My cat had seizure and I had to rush to the emergency when my cat was limping out of seizure. The vets couldn’t tell what caused the seizure, otherwise he is healthy. Clove, Cinnamon family is very toxic to cats. When I stopped using it, my cat come to notmal. I now only diffuse only 1-2 drops of cedarwood and lavender, and that is it! For those oils toxic to cats, I only apply to myself (either dab a very small amount of essential oil in carrier oil around my nose and apply on neck, or make it as a facial cream). Please I beg you not to use clove or cinnamon around cats.

  17. Esme
    October 31, 2016 / 5:29 am

    Question: we’re having problems with one of our cats peeing on our bed. We’re working on adjusting her environment because it’s definitely behavioural and not a medical issue. However, she’s gotten it into her head that our sheets are an attractive substrate for her to pee on, and she won’t stop. I was considering putting some citrus oil on a dryer ball to put in with our sheets while drying them, in the hopes of further discouraging her from using our bed as her litterbox. Would even that be to concentrated?

    • November 1, 2016 / 11:10 pm

      Hi Esme, In my opinion, it shouldn’t be too concentrated as long as it actually deters your cat from being around the sheets. If your cat was going to have constant exposure to the oil on the sheets I would recommend against it, but if it has the intended effect of keeping the cat away from the sheets then I think it should be alright. Just be sure that you only use the dryer ball with your sheets, and not any clothes that you might wear on a regular basis around your cat. Another tip: I have read that this sort of deterrent does not need to be around forever to continue to enforce the behavior, so if the cat’s behavior changes, you may be able to stop using the oil in your house afterwards to further lower exposure.

  18. Heather
    November 3, 2016 / 4:22 am

    HI Rachel, thank you so much for this information! I’ve noticed my cat has had very itchy skin over the last few months. The vet gave her a prednisone shot & it helped for a few weeks, but now the itchiness has come back. I have been diffusing quite a few of the harmful oils. Not constantly, but at least 2 times a week. Would the itchy, hot spots be a symptom of her liver becoming over burdened, and if so will time help her liver to clear?

    • November 3, 2016 / 2:24 pm

      Heather, from what I’ve read, it is possible this is a symptom of essential oil poisoning. Since cats don’t have the physical ability to filter these compounds out of their body, I doubt that simply time would clear the liver if there is indeed a toxic buildup. However, some sources do suggest that your vet may be able to help your cat detox somewhat, as long as they know what the source of poisoning was.

  19. November 4, 2016 / 12:31 pm

    Please help. One of my 4 cats has had a terrible allergic reaction. I wish I could post pictures to show you her swollen face & red eyes that are nearly shut. We have been back and forth to the veterinary hospital nearly everyday for a week trying to figure out what has triggered this. Someone suggested essential oils. Two months ago I started using essential oils in a diffuser overnight in my bedroom where my 4 cats sleep. I keep the door shut so they are stuck in there. Although none of the oils I use are on your list (lavender, chamomile & eucalyptus), and I purchased “therapeutic grade” oils per the label, I use quite a lot of drops of each nightly. However, only one of my cats has had a reaction. Thoughts?

    • Rachel
      November 10, 2016 / 8:02 pm

      Nicole,
      The same way some people are allergic to nuts but most people aren’t, it is possible for some cats to be allergic to essential oils that aren’t necessarily toxic. Swollen face and red eyes sounds like an allergic reaction to me, however I am not a medical professional, and I can only recommend that you be sure to tell your vet about everything you’ve used on or around your cats leading up to this reaction.

      Also, a quick note about “therapeutic grade” oils: this designation is not regulated by any external body, meaning there is nothing to stop a company from arbitrarily labeling their oils this way based on only their own internal standards.

  20. Shell Mustakalli
    November 12, 2016 / 3:55 am

    Hi,

    I have trouble sleeping and without thinking sprayed my pillow with the ‘this works pillow spray’. My cat sleeps on my pillow and I have turned the pillow round placed another one on top (I need two pillows to sleep with due to health reasons). I can not smell it but is it still harmful for my cat?

    • Rachel
      November 14, 2016 / 7:49 pm

      Shell, The oils in that product seem to be limited to lavender, vetiver, and chamomile, which are not toxic to cats, so you should be fine.

  21. Runda
    November 26, 2016 / 8:47 pm

    I am confused. What about electric diffusers? I use wintergreen, lemon and lavender together. Are my cats being poisoned from the air? Is rosewood safe for cats?

    • Rachel
      November 28, 2016 / 8:40 pm

      Anything you diffuse into the air around your cats, they will definitely breathe in, and the lemon and wintergreen are both on the list of oils toxic to cats. It is possible that the oil could build up in their systems and cause problems. I haven’t seen rosewood on any lists of oils toxic to cats, so I think it is alright.

  22. Denise
    November 27, 2016 / 7:09 pm

    Hi!

    I use tea tree oil to help my acne prone skin and it works a lot. However, I’m worried it could be harming my kitty. I dilute about 5 drops of pure tea tree oil into a medium sized spray bottle with water, and I spray it on my face twice a day in my bedroom, where my cat spends most of her time. I haven’t been using this treatment for too long so I’m not concerned about the buildup yet, but I also don’t want to discontinue use because it does wonders for my skin. Should I relocate where I spray (like my bathroom?) or is the diluted amount ok?

    • Rachel
      November 28, 2016 / 8:42 pm

      Because it is very diluted, I wouldn’t worry a whole lot. However, since it is a spray, there is a potential for buildup on your counters, floors, etc that could result in higher exposure. If it’s possible, maybe consider transitioning to something you rub on your face rather than spray.

    • Rachel
      December 4, 2016 / 9:48 pm

      Hi April,
      You are correct that many sources cite lavender oil as toxic to cats, and if your cat is having a reaction to it, of course stop use immediately. However, in my research, I have found that the reason for this is that there are many adulterated forms of the oil going around, especially present in perfumes, that produce the toxic effect in cats. I have found no evidence that pure lavender oil (Lavandula anguvstifolia) contains the compounds that are toxic to cats.

      • Heather
        December 10, 2016 / 6:00 pm

        What are your thoughts on diffusing Lavender, specifically this oil I just purchased on amazon (Viva Naturals French Lavender Essential Oil, 4 fl oz – 100% Pure & Therapeutic Grade for Relaxation, Sleep & Happy Mood)
        I recently bought a diffuser, hoping to use lavender to help with sleep, and before using it I started reading about the possible negative side effects to cats and as you can imagine, now I am hesitant to even use it.
        Thank you, Heather

        • December 10, 2016 / 9:45 pm

          Lavender oil should be alright around your cats. The main components don’t contain any of the harmful compounds I talked about in the article. However, if you do notice a reaction from your cat, of course discontinue use and see a vet, because similar to humans, each cat can have an individual reaction to something, sort of like an allergy.

          • Heather
            December 10, 2016 / 10:43 pm

            Thanks for your help! Very nice article!

          • Justine
            June 12, 2017 / 4:43 am

            Thank you for looking into the viva naturals 100% essential oil that was purchased on amazon. I also purchased the same oil &have been diffusing it for about a month in the bedrooms at night and recently have been reading about lavender and toxicity on cats. I’m new to the essential oil diffusing world, but was trying it out for my kids to sleep better at night. It has been working. But I was scared my 8 yr old cat might be harmed in the process. Thank you again for giving me the green light on the viva naturals essential oil, lavender. With all the uncertainty, I was about to throw it away, but feel better about it now.

  23. Matt
    December 4, 2016 / 6:55 pm

    Hi Rachel, I know it is not on your list but is lemongrass oil okay to diffuse around cats?

    • Rachel
      December 10, 2016 / 9:28 pm

      I looked into it, and lemongrass oil should be on the list, as it can contain anywhere between 3-5% of a monoterpene hydrocarbon called β-myrcene.

      • December 12, 2016 / 8:32 pm

        Oh no…. this is disturbing. This is one of my favorite oils. I will stop diffusing right away.
        Dawn

      • MK
        July 1, 2017 / 5:05 am

        Thanks Rachel. I researched a bit online and it seems lemongrass oil used as cat repellent!!!! OMG. Yes lemongrass should be on the toxic to cat list.

  24. Camelia
    December 10, 2016 / 9:24 pm

    Hi Rachel. I wish I would have read your article earlier. I use a lot of tea tree and oregano oil in my house. I dilute them in water and use them to wash the floors and surfaces in my home. My cat had ringworm sometimes ago, and the vet advised me to use them for disinfection. :( After she was cured, I continued to use them as it seemed a natural alternative to the chemical disinfectants and home products. My cat is 1 year and a half old now and she hasn’t got sick since then. I have not had any health problems with her. Now she has kittens. I will stop use tea tree and oregano oils, thanks to your article. Maybe I will replace them with rosemary. Do you know if verbena oil is harmful to pets? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verbena_officinalis Thank you very much!

    • December 10, 2016 / 9:51 pm

      Verbena oil contains limonene, which is one of the dangerous components for cats. It is also pretty rare/expensive from what I’ve read, and is often diluted with other oils.

      • Camelia
        December 10, 2016 / 11:10 pm

        Thank you.

  25. December 13, 2016 / 4:51 pm

    Hey Rachel,
    I just stumbled on your post, and I find I am really sad about this. All of the people promoting essential oils have said it was safe to use around my cat in a diffuser because there are only 2-6 drops of oil in about 1/2 cup of water. I have been difising some high quality essential oils as air fresheners because they aren’t tested on animals and end up being cheaper over time than other cruelty free products. Unfortunately, all of the ones I have used are the yummy citrus or cinnamon-y Christmas scents. Those can really hurt my cat when I diffuse them?

    • December 13, 2016 / 4:57 pm

      Hi Ambyr, They are correct that short-term use at that dilution will be alright for you cat; the issues come with the long term exposure. As explained in the article, toxic buildup takes time. So even if you don’t see symptoms right away, you could still be hurting your cats.

  26. Claudio
    December 15, 2016 / 12:45 am

    Thank you for this article, it is very helpful. I am wondering about diffusing Benzoin and Jasmine around my cat. I cant’ seem to find any information on it. Are you able to provide me with any details? Thanks.

    • December 15, 2016 / 4:35 pm

      Looking at the information in this article about Benzoin, it doesn’t appear to have any of the toxic constituents. Similarly, this article listing the constituents of jasmine oil also does not list any of the toxic constituents.

  27. Jaime L Jacobs
    December 23, 2016 / 8:36 pm

    Oh my! My daughter and I have been sick and ive been diffusing thieves in one room and tea tree, lemon and lavender in living room to kill and disinfect. I hate that this could be hurting my cats. Ive been diffusing oils for a yr and using alot of these oils daily not knowing. I hope to god I didnt just harm my baby. :( Do you know if it would be safe to diffuse while cat is outside or would oil residue be all over house? This is so scary. Why has no one ever told me about this. What are some symptoms of build up. I noticed my cat was breathing very hard earlier. :(

    • December 25, 2016 / 4:25 pm

      There will definitely be oil residue everywhere in the house, so I definitely don’t recommend diffusing while they are outside as a long term solution. Some of the symptoms of toxic buildup in the liver include loss of appetite, weakness, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you’re worried your cats are experiencing the toxic buildup, have your vet check them over soon and regularly to help watch for these signs.

  28. liane linner
    December 25, 2016 / 10:02 pm

    Thank you!
    I was simmering orange peels in water to add moisture to the air, as kitty is suffering from all the static electricity. Now i won’t do that, and am going to try miniature rosebuds in water. Thoughts?

    • December 27, 2016 / 5:57 am

      The rosebuds shouldn’t harm your kitty, as far as I know.

  29. Monique
    December 28, 2016 / 7:59 am

    Hi Rachel this post is very useful thanks so much.
    I am a Young Living user and wonder if thieves household cleaner might be safe for use around the house including the floor? The ingredients include citrus oils and cinnamon but it is highly diluted (e.g. 50:1) when used for cleaning.

    • December 28, 2016 / 3:38 pm

      Hi Monique, glad you’re finding this post helpful! With the thieves, what I would recommend is using only on surfaces that your cats don’t come into direct contact with on a regular basis, wiping as much residue off after disinfecting, and avoiding using a spray bottle when cats are in the room to inhale the spray that gets into the air. For your floors, which I assume your cats come in contact with very regularly, an alternate anti-bacterial oil that is not toxic to cats is Rosemary oil.

  30. Katie
    March 3, 2017 / 2:18 pm

    Great post! Very helpful. Thank you!

    I’m wondering about my homemade laundry detergent. It’s borax, washing soda, baking soda, and lemon and clove oils. Obviously it gets rinsed away in the washing machine, and when it comes out, I don’t really smell it anymore. Considering that, I might as well switch to lavender anyway, but I still have a lot left of the lemon/clove and I’m wondering if I need to throw it all away!

    • March 3, 2017 / 4:41 pm

      Katie, I think this is probably ok. Any oils left on the clothing are likely trapped in the fabric and a negligible amount is available to get to your cat.

  31. Tracey solomon
    March 4, 2017 / 7:22 am

    I have a question.. recently started using supposedly really good face cremes by miessence ..but upon reading the ingredients they do have essential oils in them..but supposedly very high quality…but i have a cat that sleeps right on my face and loves to rub and lick my face a lot…now i am concerned..this was an expensive product that i love myself but now I don’t know if i can use it all …..around my cats…can you help with this..i think the answer is no i cannot …..but the quality of this product is good …and some said it depends on the quality….the exfoliating product they have even has some essential oils ..if i wash it off and the cat licks and rubs on me …i just don’t know…help

  32. Tracey solomon
    March 4, 2017 / 7:33 am

    I recently started using a product called miessence ..on my face..supposedly a very high quality product.very expensive…but i was reading the engredients.. and they all have essential oils…the most expensive one has a wonderful smell but very strong..so that got me thinking about my cat who loves to sleep by my face and rub and lick me all night..so..even the exfoliant has oils…its the one that has citrus…so should i not use these at all…..if i wash it all off before i go to bed and he’s with me will it still bother him …or only use it when i leave and wash when i get home?…i think no i cant us it at all now..but some of the comments said high quality might be ok…help ..he’s an old cat ..don’t want to harm him …

    • March 4, 2017 / 6:52 pm

      Tracey, I think it should be ok for use around him as long as you are making sure you wash it off before your cat rubs on you. Quality does play some role, but a lot of the compounds that make these oils toxic are found in the pure oil, not any additives. Just make sure you watch him for unusual behavior.

  33. Michelle Exley
    March 11, 2017 / 12:52 am

    I only use Young Living Essential Oils. Are they all safe for my cart?

    • March 13, 2017 / 4:19 pm

      Hi Michelle,
      Young Living seems to carry mostly high quality oils in my experience, although they don’t post the gc/ms (gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy) for their oils online, making it hard to know for sure. When specifically asked, they do sometimes produce this analysis of their oils. Regardless, any oil on the list of oils toxic to cats, no matter the brand, is not safe for your cat. In that same vein, low quality oils of any kind can be harmful not just to your cat, but also to you, as low quality oils are generally full of fillers or poorly grown/sourced.

  34. Candice
    March 13, 2017 / 4:50 pm

    Hello I was wondering if the Serenity Blend by DoTerra has anything toxic to cats?
    As well, is Vetiver safe?
    I’m pretty sure, both are OK but am asking as when I go to bed at night, I have a cat that will have couching/choking/breathing issue when I put them on before bed.
    It’s odd though, is he not repealed and does not walk away, he wants to be by me.
    Its very confusing and quite bothersome. I won’t want him to get ill but wonder if it was harmful to him,why he doe not walk away? I do not difuse around them at all, and never will but do like my 2 oils oils on before bed.
    Thoughts? Thanks!

    • March 13, 2017 / 4:57 pm

      Candice,
      This blend looks alright, including the vetiver. However, it is possible for individual cats to have reactions to oils that aren’t universally toxic, sort of like an allergy. I would recommend taking your cat to the vet for the breathing issue, as it may be a preexisting condition that the oils agitate. As to why he doesn’t walk away, it may be it’s just not annoying enough to overcome how much he wants to be close to you, but it’s hard to tell (and who really knows why cats do anything anyway).

    • Lisa Barron
      August 9, 2017 / 8:36 pm

      I have a short story on the Doterra peppermint for sure and the Thieves Young living. I have three inside cats one that is 15 one that is 2 and one that is a one year old.. I started diffusing first some of the Young living oils just small samples and started noticing all of my cats sneezing a lot and coughing I thought they had all caught a cold which is kind of odd to me that they would all catch cold but I brushed it off. Then I used Doterra peppermint several days in a row more sneezing ,coughing and.. throwing up white foam . I began to look into was something wrong with they’re food or had they licked anything in my house like fingernail polish remover.. found nothing . I was beginning to really wonder what was going on. I then diffused Thieves and my 15 year old cat came down very sick lethargic, vomiting not eating ended up at the vet and he is still not out of the woods it hit me all of the sudden ever since I started diffusing oils all of my kitties were becoming very sick… I still may lose my beloved Sadie Boy who is like one of my children he is even the same age as my own kids and grew up with them… Im heartbroken I didn’t know about this earlier…

  35. auntje j
    March 21, 2017 / 7:39 pm

    appreciated the article and information…till i got to the end & you said “what do you GUYS think”…to paraphrase.
    most of your readers are ladies..not guys..please stop using a male term to address womyn
    it is NOT gender neutral..in fact its same as patruarchial culture using MAN & he always in the past…
    lets consiously change that

    • Bethany
      March 31, 2017 / 3:40 pm

      Wow…crazy much? If this is such a big issue to you, you should really spend some time volunteering to help others.

  36. ann
    April 3, 2017 / 7:57 pm

    Hi..hope you can help..this blog has been very helpful.I do have a cat..my baby..and want to make a cleaner.Using peppermint essential oil and vinigar for my cleaning.Will this ham my cat.Please help

    • April 3, 2017 / 8:37 pm

      My answer is: it depends. If you are using this cleaner for countertops or other places your cat doesn’t normally hang out, then it should be fine. However if you’re wanting to clean floors with this or any other surface that your cat might rub on, I would recommend leaving out the essential oil (there aren’t really any good cleaning oils that aren’t toxic to cats). Once the oil gets on their fur, they will lick it off, and then their liver can’t process it out of their body.

  37. April 3, 2017 / 11:26 pm

    I always enjoy updates on this thread. I’m happy to hear that Vetiver, Cedarwood and Rosemary are safe for cats. I have some Rosemary oil, and I’m going to make a cleaner with it. What is your opinion on Copaiba? Do you know of any Young Living blends that are safe for use around cats?
    Dawn

    • April 4, 2017 / 7:38 pm

      According to a typical profile, copaiba oil is fine for cats. Helichrysum is not, as it has alpha-pinene as a major component. It didn’t make it on to the list because it’s not very widely used.
      In terms of Young Living blends, just look at the ingredients of each blend and make sure none of the oils are from the toxic list (or lemongrass or helichrysum which I need to add).

  38. Shawn
    April 4, 2017 / 3:44 am

    So now I’m wondering about wax burners/melters? Would melting wax or even candles be the same kind of toxic to cats as essential oils when the scent is put into the air?

    • April 4, 2017 / 7:41 pm

      I’m not entirely sure what you’re asking, but I’ll answer from all sides.
      One: using a wax melter to diffuse essential oils of any type will heat damage them, turning them into components that are toxic to humans and animals.
      Two: most candles and wax melts put off other toxic components into the air that aren’t really good for anyone; however this is not nearly as bad as the actual essential oils.
      Three: lastly IF a candle or wax is scented with essential oils, that brings us back to problem one.

      • Shawn
        April 5, 2017 / 12:02 am

        That absolutely answers my question, thank you. We have a wax melter and wax melts, and we do use essential oils, but it’s actually very rarely. I just happened to stumble upon this post last night while I had our wax melter on. (By rarely, I mean every few months or so) Now that it’s getting to be warmer, I’ll see if I can get a window open the next time we use either. Thank you so very much!

  39. Tracey solomon
    April 5, 2017 / 2:46 am

    Please take me off the emailing list was very hard to unsubscribe ===thank you

  40. April 10, 2017 / 5:04 pm

    Hi Rachel! Very informative site for cat lovers! Thanks for all your research. Could you please publish a list of SAFE oils?! I’ve gone through each comment, trying to pick out the ones you mentioned as being safe for cats, but thought a comprehensive list would be very beneficial to a lot of folks.
    For my future reference, I’ve marked my unsafe oil bottles with a small X so I’m certain not to use them around my fur babies. Thanks again!

  41. Chris
    April 24, 2017 / 6:08 am

    Hi Rachel,
    Do you believe Dr. Bronner’s castile liquid soap-lavender scented is safe for cats? Here are the ingredients: Water, organic coconut oil, potassium hydroxide, organic palm kernel oil, organic olive oil, lavandin extract, organic hemp oil, organic jojoba oil, lavender extract, citric acid, tocopherol.

    Thanks in advance

    • May 8, 2017 / 3:49 pm

      This should be safe for your cat, however I generally recommend against using scented products on your cats. Their sense of smell is very sensitive compared to ours, and scented products can bother them, especially when they can’t get away from the smell.

      • April
        July 5, 2017 / 12:51 am

        I was just wondering about using Dr. Bronner soaps. I wouldn’t use them on a cat. I don’t even have one right now. Just trying to make good habits. I am just wanting to create an all-purpose cleaner for my bathroom (tea tree soap), laundry soap (lavender soap), and mop with them. Just trying to figure out what to do.

        • July 21, 2017 / 3:29 pm

          The lavender soap should be fine. In terms of the tea tree, I recommend using it only on surfaces your cat wouldn’t walk on or rub on, unless you follow up with regular soap and water to remove the oil after it’s done disinfecting.

  42. Heidi
    April 26, 2017 / 4:06 am

    ASPCA lists lavender, Roman chamomile and catnip as toxic to cats. I went through their list of toxic and non-toxic plants. Safe plants listed:
    Carrot
    Coriander
    Dill
    Fennel
    Jasmine
    Melissa
    Rose
    Rosemary
    Sage
    Does anyone have info stating otherwise? Just want to be sure before I start diffusing any of these.

    • May 8, 2017 / 3:47 pm

      Everything on your list seems to match with the info I have regarding safe oils. However I do believe they are mistaken about the oils they have listed as toxic. Lavender oil, in it’s pure form and processed properly, should not contain anything toxic to cats (see composition report here). Many sources do cite it as toxic simply because it is one of the most widely adulterated oils on the market, and these adulterated versions can be toxic. Similarly, roman chamomile does not contain phenols or monoterpene hydrocarbons (composition study). Catnip, while it does contain a low concentration of phenols, does not contain enough to cause harm as long as you aren’t applying it directly to your cat or using a concentrated oil for an extended period of time.

  43. Jordan
    May 3, 2017 / 4:21 am

    My wife and I love to diffuse oils. Orange, and grapefruit are some of our favorites. One thing that I’m unsure about after reading this is if pure oils, even the ones on the list, are ok to use.

    • May 8, 2017 / 3:38 pm

      If an oil is on the list, it is never ok to use, even if it is pure (actually sometimes especially if it is pure, given that this means it is at a higher concentration). Orange and grapefruit make the list, so they are not safe to diffuse around cats. If you want to continue diffusing them in your home, diffuse in a room your cats do not have access to (for example I diffuse in my bedroom but never let my cat spend time in there).

  44. Jo Bishop
    May 13, 2017 / 2:21 am

    I have not read all the comments, but I agree with your idea, some plants on your list MAY be possible to grow outside, but the Essential Oils of those plants are too concentrated for our pets. In researching Natural Flea and Tick repellents, I discovered that the Pennyroyal plant is toxic to animals but is a great flea and tick repellent. I have not seen Pennyroyal Essential Oil available, but that might be included in your list.

  45. george
    May 20, 2017 / 7:02 pm

    is this the pure form for lavender? “Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Linalool, Limonene”
    i want to mix it with baking soda and then to put it in a cat litter.
    (or maybe u can suggest me something else..)

    Many thanks in advance,
    My best

    • May 22, 2017 / 1:22 am

      That is not a pure form. The Lavandula Anguvstifolia is the pure part. You don’t want anything with limonene in it, as this is a component that is toxic to cats.

  46. Tiger
    May 23, 2017 / 7:46 pm

    Hello
    I have a cat that was snuggling next to me on a couch for 3 hours. In my cargo pants pocket, (against where he was laying) was a fresh pack of strong, natural peppermint gum. He he got up, there was a large drool spot on the couch. His fur and skin had a strong peppermint smell as well, until I washed him. He’s acting fine and eating fine…. Should I still be concerned that he has a toxic build up?

    • May 31, 2017 / 9:37 pm

      Tiger, toxic buildup usually happens over much longer time-spans. Think on the order of months or years depending on the level of exposure. I wouldn’t worry about toxic buildup for your kitty mostly because the level of peppermint in gum is very minor and also largely contained within the gum itself. I’d say it’s nearly impossible for your cat to have been exposed to enough peppermint in this one instance to produce a toxic buildup.

  47. Amy
    May 23, 2017 / 9:08 pm

    Hi,

    I read elsewhere the eucalyptus is toxic to cats, but it is not included on your list. I’m interested in using it as a black widow repellant outside. My kitty does go outside, but I think it would mostly be on surfaces that my cat wouldn’t rub on. Thoughts?

    Thank you,

    Amy

    • May 31, 2017 / 9:35 pm

      Amy, Eucalyptus is not normally toxic to cats, although depending on the region it was grown in and the soil conditions it can sometimes contain more than trace amounts of toxic components. Be sure the check the GC/MS test results for any oil you buy to make sure the contents of monoterpene hydrocarbons is only trace amounts. Also, as long as your cat is not being exposed to an oil, you don’t have to worry about the toxicity.

  48. Claudia
    May 27, 2017 / 2:10 am

    Is it safe to use a few drops of lavemder in baking soda as a natural carpet deodorizer in a home with a cat?

    • May 31, 2017 / 9:29 pm

      Claudia, yes, lavender is safe for cats. Just be sure you are buying the pure form and not a cheap adulterated form, as can be common with this oil. I personally love Plant Therapy for buying all my oils and I trust their quality and purity.

  49. Sarah
    May 27, 2017 / 7:59 am

    I’m not looking to give my cats essential oregano oil to eat but can I use a diffuser in my house with it? I’m guessing no but would love confirmation.
    Thanks.

    • May 31, 2017 / 9:25 pm

      Sarah,
      You could diffuse it in your house if you did so in a room your cats did not have access to. Otherwise, if your cats can inhale it, it ends up in their system and can’t be eliminated.

  50. Natashia
    June 2, 2017 / 10:18 pm

    We just recently adopted 2 kittens and when they use their litter they leave behind quite a stink bomb. Me and my mom love our essential oils so we’ll have Eucalyptus oil defusing on a countertop that kind of hovers beside their litter box. I see that Euycalyptus is not on this list, so is it safe that we are doing this as a natural air cleanser? Also, we have these incest sticks that we light up that are scented and wonder if that is alright to use as well?

  51. Noemi Amador
    June 7, 2017 / 8:56 am

    I want to know if it’s safe to use coconut carrier oil on my cat skin.

  52. vicki takacs
    June 9, 2017 / 7:20 am

    I want to know about lemon balm or Melissa. My cat Armand is dying from a very enlarged heart and road construction has been horribly noisy for the past 2 years right in our yard. He began fur biting or pulling it out and my vet said to diffuse lemon balm to calm him. The diffuser didn’t work as the room is too large so I began putting a dab under his chin or at the base of his neck. He has quit and his fur has grown back but the construction continues and I know I coud pull out my hair! He cannot lick it off but is Melissa harming him? He’s 16.

  53. vicki takacs
    June 15, 2017 / 4:31 am

    I wanted to post what happened after I put a daub of Melissa on the back of Armand’s head. Either it was adulterated, (my guess) or it just isn’t safe because a pretty big chunk of skin and hair fell out. Road construction shook the house so bad the gas line came loose. I am back to looking for something natural to calm him. The vet said those Felway things do not work.

    • amy knarr
      June 15, 2017 / 6:40 pm

      Oh how awful!
      I do use the Feliway plug ins and they seem to work for our cats.

  54. Sofia
    June 22, 2017 / 7:43 pm

    Racheal do you know the brand living young of essential oils ?
    Well my sister put a drop of lavander in the back of my cat. Is that bad ?

  55. Sarah
    June 29, 2017 / 3:51 am

    I am freaking out right now – I am in graduate school and have been diffusing 4 drops of peppermint oil in about a cup of water nearly continuously for several months when I am home studying all evening, with my cat sleeping on the chair next to me and the diffuser within a foot of both of us. She has shown no symptoms and I will never use that oil in my house now that I know, but should I take her to the vet? It has been really continuous and I am scared she has had a lot of exposure.

  56. July 5, 2017 / 3:04 am

    Lavender reacts with my cat, he starting throwing up his food. He was fine and healthy and the vet said it hadn’t poisoned him but perhaps he was sensitive to lavender.

    I’m now super nervous about using oils in my difuser in case he reacts again.

    • July 21, 2017 / 3:28 pm

      Trish,
      It is definitely possible for your cat to be sensitive to lavender. But it is also possible you have ended up with an adulterated version, as it is the most commonly adulterated oil available on the market.
      If you’re nervous about using oils in the future, start with very low dilutions and short periods of exposure to determine if your cat will have a reaction. I hope this one experience doesn’t end up detracting from your usage of EOs altogether!

  57. Nic
    July 5, 2017 / 10:27 pm

    I just received my oils and first diffuser today and just did a quick search to see if it was safe around my cat. I’m so happy and grateful I stumbled upon this post. The oils which I bought are 100% natural, did have three that are on your list. I already gifted them to someone and just kept lavender, eucalyptus and rosemary and will to a higher dilution just to be safe.

    • July 21, 2017 / 3:26 pm

      Sounds good! I’m glad you found this post too. So many people are unaware when they use these oils around their cats.

  58. Rebecca
    July 5, 2017 / 11:46 pm

    I suffer from a serious autoimmune disease and want to use essential oils to rub on my skin. Could this pose any harm to my cats? I would like to use: frankinsence, myrrh, peppermint, lavender, turmeric, clove, cinnamon, roman chamomile, ginger, helichrysum and eucalyptus. Is this safe? Of course I will not put it on my cats, just on my own skin and wash my hands very well after applying. Looking forward to your response, thank you in advance! :-)
    Kind regards,
    Rebecca

    • July 21, 2017 / 3:25 pm

      Hi Rebecca,
      As long as your cats don’t rub up against you and get the oils on their fur, I think you should be fine. Washing your hands after application is also a really good idea, so keep it up! :)

  59. LelsieA
    July 6, 2017 / 8:28 pm

    Is it safe for me to put a few drops of lavender oil on my pillow, or on a tissue under my pillow. I have heard that lavender oil is toxic to cats. I purchased Via Natural Natural Essential Lavender Oil.

    • July 21, 2017 / 3:23 pm

      Leslie,
      Lavender should be safe around cats. The reason it is often listed as unsafe is because it is the most commonly adulterated oil on the market, so it is best to buy from a reputable company. I wasn’t able to find the company you mentioned, so I can’t say how reputable they are, but you can check out the post I wrote on which companies I trust to buy from here.

  60. July 7, 2017 / 4:32 pm

    Rachel thank you so much for this article & for your super smart & wise replies to people who aren’t looking at scientific research or lack there of regarding the safety of essential oils for cats. I have 3 young cats (the oldest is 1. She is Princess Bunny, a 3 legged cat who lost one of her entire front legs due to negligence of staff that shut her leg in a cage & left her there all night at the rescue where I found her). She is quite skittish though she’s improved vastly & gets along wonderfully with my other 2 kitties. Can you recommend any essential oil that may help her recover? Also, regarding Young Living Essential Oils, they claim that some of their oils can be used therapeutically for animals (specifically horses, I can’t remember if other animals were referenced). It would be a great project for Young Living to do-& a whole new market for their products! I look forward to taking your free email course Rachel. Thank you again for being a blessing & for looking out for our fur baby angels! 💗 Tara

    • July 21, 2017 / 3:20 pm

      Hi Tara,
      Thank you so much for your kind words! :)
      In terms of recovery, it depends what you mean. Lavender is great for promoting cell-proliferation at a wound site, whereas ginger would be good to help reduce inflammation. As with any ailment, lots of rest and water are the best things you can do for recovery though.

  61. Tim
    July 9, 2017 / 9:39 am

    Great comprehensive list. Thanks.
    I was wondering if this treasure trove of knowledge had any info on diffusing therapudic grade Eucalyptus Oil around cats… about 3 drops per 100 ml is my likely dilution rate.
    It is my understanding that Mryyh and Gindg4r root oil wre safe too, is this correct?
    Thanks in advance ror any help. 😄

    • July 21, 2017 / 3:15 pm

      This dilution comes out to be 0.1%, which is about the lowest dilution you can use and still have it be effective. Eucalyptus is safe around cats, so it doesn’t matter as much.
      Looking at Myrrh oil composition, it seems to be safe, as does ginger oil, although ginger oil does tend to act like a ‘hot’ oil, causing intense burning if applied to the skin directly, so use extra caution when using this oil, especially around cats.

  62. Bruno
    July 18, 2017 / 7:41 pm

    I noticed Peppermint is on the list of toxic essential oils. What about Spearmint? Is that toxic too? If it falls under the mint family is it considered toxic?

    Im glad to see one of my favourite oils (eucalyptus) is not on the list…phew! Do you recommend others that work well in naturally freshening your home’s scent?

    • July 21, 2017 / 3:05 pm

      Bruno,
      Yes, spearmint also falls under the toxic list. The component that makes it ‘minty’ is the one to blame for the toxicity unfortunately.

      In terms of other oils you can use to refresh your home, I like to use Rose oil. It’s a little more expensive but when used sparingly it can last for quite awhile.

  63. Christina Williams
    July 21, 2017 / 6:14 am

    Hi Rachel,

    Thanks so much for this info. While looking for supposed pet and eco-friendly ways to keep spiders out of the home, a few articles recommended mixing 1 1/2 cups of water, 1/2 cup of vinegar and 20 drops of peppermint oil and spraying around windows, entrance ways, and cracks. So of course I did this before finding your blog.

    Do you think this dilution will be ok to use 1-2 times a month with my kitties? I purchased to oil from Target. Perhaps I should use eucalyptus oil instead? This kitty mommy is quite irked that the cleaning article said the mixture was pet friendly when it’s not!

    Thanks so much!

    • July 21, 2017 / 2:59 pm

      Hi Christina,
      So the dilution you’re talking about using comes out to 0.4%, which is definitely low, but it can be hard to quantify whether or not that’s low enough. As I said in the article, once these molecules enter your kitties system, they never leave, so minimizing their exposure is always the best option.
      In terms of the oil you bought… that doesn’t sound like it’s probably the best quality oil. Many general stores like that that are selling essential oils aren’t selling pure, top quality oils and many of them are adulterated. You can check out the post I wrote on which EO companies I trust to buy from (that aren’t super expensive).

      • Christina Williams
        July 21, 2017 / 6:35 pm

        Thanks so much! For piece of mind, I’ve decided to skip peppermint altogether and use lavender. Might I suggest you check into Neal’s Yard Remedy for essential oils and natural products? They are originally based in Britain. I haven’t used their oils but love many of their other products. And they don’t use the marketing jargon like ‘therapeutic grade’ to sell their products. Sorry, not trying to sell the products to you, just another opinion and experience.

        Again, thanks so much for all of your research and advice!

  64. Ttt
    July 21, 2017 / 5:28 pm

    Thank you, you have a beautiful way in sharing your info and thoughts,
    I am not sure if the souce of the info i would like to share about toxicity of the beautiful, beautiful lavender is based on actual scientific/medical research, or general obsevation, but its from ASPCA organization.
    They listed Lavender as TOXIC to cats.

    Not knowing for sure if a substance is toxic to humans or not is not a big deal for me, i am welling to take the risk on my self if i really want it.

    But Cats, No No and No, if it miiiiight be toxic i would steer away from it.

    Here is the link.
    Would it be helpful or more confusing, i dunno, but i hope it helps.

    https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/lavender

  65. Nicola
    July 31, 2017 / 7:44 pm

    Hi

    Thank you for your great article! I want to mix water and eucalultus oil to spray on surfaces where I dont want my fur babies but after this im wondering. Please advice?

  66. Sheri
    August 8, 2017 / 5:40 pm

    I don’t diffuse or use essential oils but I did just purchase pure tea tree oil to use on myself. I apply it with a q-tip. My cats are always near me. Are they safe?

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