Is Essential Oil Safe For Cats?

essential oil toxic cats

Do you like using humidifiers, candles, or essential oils in your home?

There is nothing wrong with tweaking your home’s unique scent. There’s nothing like aromatherapy to relax you after a long and stressful day.

However, you have to make sure that whatever you are using is safe for everyone — including your pets.

Cats especially may not do well when exposed to essential oils.

We'd like to share a true story about a recent incident involving one of our long-term clients' cat. Our goal is to use this platform to share as much information as possible about this topic with other cat parents out there, because prevention is better than cure.

Meet Sox 👋


Sox is a lovely boy with long luxurious hair who lives indoors with his human aka Kakak in a high-rise condominium. His Kakak adored him and lavished him with love and care to ensure he is healthy and a happy cat. As a result of the pandemic, his Kakak is required to work from home, and she, like most of us, is working long hours with added stress. Stress can be relieved by diffusing essential oils. Sox's Kakak usually diffuses essential oils at her office, but because she had to work from home, she makes it at home instead, like everyone else.

One fine day, this happened.

It broke her heart to see Sox have a seizure and be in pain all of a sudden. She immediately took Sox to the vet and was diagnosed that the main cause was the essential oil she was diffusing at home. 

Essential oil toxic to cats

Why this happened?

Essential oils have chemicals that can be rapidly absorbed by cats through the mouth or skin. Unfortunately, cats are not able to metabolize these oils.

As a result, they may suffer from skin irritation, burns and for this case muscle tremor. Young cats and kittens with pre-existing liver conditions are more sensitive to the effects of essential oils.

How Can Your Cat Be Exposed to Essential Oils?

Cats have a reputation for being prolific groomers. They groom any chance they get, so they can be exposed to essential oils by accidentally licking them off their coat.

You know how adept cats are at squeezing into forbidden spaces. This means that they can also get in contact with spilled oils or overturned containers. It only takes a tiny amount on your moggy’s skin to cause essential oil poisoning.

What Are the Symptoms of Essential Oil Poisoning in Cats?

Essential oil poisoning has almost the same symptoms as food poisoning. Here are some signs to watch out for:

  • Constant pawing at the face or mouth
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Drooling
  • Fragrance on your cat’s breath, coat, skin, or vomit
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle tremors or seizure
  • Redness on the gums, lips, skin, or tongue
  • Uncoordinated gait
  • Vomiting

Are All Essential Oils Toxic to Cats?

Most essential oils have high phenols or salicylates, which should be off-limits when you have cats at home. Examples of these essential oils are basil, cinnamon, citrus, clove, bay leaf, mountain savory, oregano, tea tree, thyme, peppermint, pine, pennyroyal, sweet birch, wintergreen, and ylang-ylang.

Good thing that some essential oils are cat friendly. You should consult your veterinarian about which essential oils are safe for your cats, as some are more prone and sensitive than others.

How Can a Cat Owner Use Essential Oils Safely?

Does this mean that you can never use these aromatic substances if you have a cat at home?

Your cat and your fondness of essential oils can co-exist, provided you follow these tips religiously to avoid poisoning.

  • Consult with your veterinarian. Get a list of the essential oils that are not toxic for your cat.
  • Keep and store your essential oils out of your cat's reach.
  • Never leave opened essential oil bottles unattended.
  • If your essential oil container has spilled or leaked, make sure to clean the area meticulously.
  • When you use a diffuser in an enclosed area, make sure that your cat is not inside the room.

If you think that your cat might have been exposed to essential oils, bring them to the veterinary clinic as soon as possible. 

Knowing which essential oils to use when you have a cat is vital. Given that the majority of these oils are hazardous to your cat, you have to take extra precautions for your furry housemate.

👏 We would like to thank Kakak and Sox for sharing this story with all cat owners and potentially saving other cat lives. Sox is doing fantastic right now, and we are overjoyed that he has reclaimed his health! Providing a safe living environment for our fur families at home is definitely essential.


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