Thursday, August 24, 2017

Are Essential Oils with Cats Safe?

Have you heard all the hoopla about essential oils and cats? Some people make it sound like your furry friend will drop dead if they so much as look at a bottle of essential oil.

I don't know about you, but whenever I see something that seems extreme-- I research it. Often I find it has some roots in truth, but there is a whole lot of gray involved too. 

So let's talk! 

Can you really use essential oils around cats? 

Are essential oils safe for cats?

My first attempt to research essential oils and cats was actually a huge fail. You probably know why because you've been looking online for this information too! The web is all over the place and its lack of any kind of consistency pretty much made me want to gouge out my eyeballs. I gave up on google and contacted some professionals instead. 

Yep. Totally did some REAL journalistic stuff. You should be proud. 

Okay, this is the important part. So listen up! 

Every single person I spoke to said that the biggest issue with essential oils and cats is actually the quality of the essential oils. Most brands use fillers, solvents and even synthetic fragrances to essential oils which are usually what is most harmful to our feline friends. 

So don't use crap essential oils. Got it?! 

But-- yes. You are right. It's harder than it sounds. So many brands use misleading labels. They say words like "pure" or "therapeutic" which actually lack any actual meaning while they buffer their oils with chemicals, fillers, and synthetics which are harmful to our pets and ourselves. AAAHHH!! So frustrating! 

So what can you use? How do you know what quality essential oils actually are? What's safe for our furry friends? Lucky you! There is this incredible article about finding quality essential oils written by a brilliant young author (aka me). Read it by clicking here.

You. Are. Welcome.

Are essential oils safe for cats?

I asked everyone that I interviewed if I was poisoning my cats, you know-- gas chamber style, by diffusing essential oils into the air in my home. All my sources said that I was actually helping my cats! WHEW!

In fact, my local holistic vet even "prescribed" diffusion recipes for my cats to help with emotions and physical goals. How cool is that?!

I was reassured that felines can benefit greatly from aromatherapy (aka diffusing essential oils) and it's quite safe when you use quality essential oils and when you follow a few simple rules.

And thankfully, the rules for diffusing around cats are pretty simple.

  1. Don't lock them in an enclosed space with the diffuser-- they are quite sensitive to smells and can easily be overwhelmed by them so keep the doors open. 
  2. If they choose to leave the area where you are diffusing-- let them. 
  3. Some cats may react to certain essential oils and not others. They are most likely to react to oils like eucalyptus, tea tree, and citrus oils. However, this doesn't mean that you can't diffuse them. Just use small amounts and if your cat hates the smell of tangerine-- he/she will simply leave the room.
  4. If you must diffuse in a confined space (such as a car or while they are in a crate) then use a much smaller amount of essential oil and use very gentle essential oils such as Copaiba or Lavender.
  5. Drooling = too much essential oil for kitty. Stop the diffuser or remove the cat from the room. 
Diffusing is actually really great for calming cats or helping with emotional issues. This is really great because almost all of my cats were ferals with traumatic pasts. We use lavender, Peace and Calming, T-Away, Palo Santo, and TraumLife a lot in our home and they all seem to really keep the cats happier, more grounded and calmer.

Other kitty favorites are Frankincense, Rose, Geranium, Valor, Idaho Black Spruce, and Gentle Babies.

What are your cat's favorites?

Are essential oils safe for cats

Every person I spoke to advised NOT to apply essential oils directly to cat's skin without supervision from a licensed practitioner. 

Why? Each person gave similar, but slightly different answers. But basically, it boiled down to this-- cats are small and they have sensitive livers so essential oils should be treated like a drug. They need to be prescribed a particular dose based on their weight, age, and health and then they should be given for a limited time on a prescribed schedule for their "doses".

It is best to consult a holistic vet as most people who are not trained in holistic modalities are unaware of the dilution requirements and sensitivities cats can have to certain essential oils. There may be exceptions to specific essential oils blends that were made for animals by aromatherapists who were trained in animal therapy, but make sure they are a reputable company!

One aromatherapist said, "You wouldn't put just anything into your 10-pound baby that could impact its body without talking to a doctor first, would you? The wrong dosage for someone so small can have lasting impacts. Don't risk it."

The only exception to this opinion was found in Dr. Melissa Shelton's book, The Animal Desk Reference (find it here). She has many recipes for specific feline goals that use topical applications. Dr. Shelton is a pioneer in using essential oil for cats and is known as one of the leading authorities on this subject. 

Pretty much-- yeaaaaaaah. Don't do it. 

Dr. Shelton said that some supplements with essential oils can be given but in very small doses. If you are considering this, then please be sure to check out her book first to see proper dosage. 

All the other people I consulted basically said that there is a reason that cats have limited diets and they aren't usually prescribed long term meds (unless its benefit outweighs the risk). They just don't tolerate things as well as some other pets (like dogs) so they recommended against giving a cat any supplement that was not specifically made for cats.

If your cat needs long term essential oil usage, then it is recommended that they should have routine blood work and be under the supervision of a trained veterinarian. 

Are essential oils safe for cats?

I am flattered that so many people want to know what I do, but please remember-- I'm not a holistic expert. I simply am doing what I feel is best for my fur-babies based on the research I have done and the recommendations of the people I've spoken to. 

I encourage you to make the best judgement for you and your furry family too. 

My cats are allowed to determine if they want to be around any essential oil that I diffuse. Leo, my orange tabby, doesn't like peppermint so he will go to a different room if I choose to diffuse it at a higher concentration. But he never seems upset or disturbed by it. It's just not his thing. 

But many of them seem to really enjoy certain essential oils. Sadie (my torti) will practically molest my diffuser for Frankincense and Rose (she's classy- what can I say!!). Leo has a major thing for Geranium. Elizabeth Taylor prefers T-Away or Gentle Babies. And the two little ones seem to really enjoy lavender. They will go lay down near the diffuser to go to sleep which is a blessing because they are cray-cray and they need to calm down. 

And ALL of the cats have benefited greatly from diffusing a small amount of lavender for car rides. What used to be meowing, crying, and howling has turned into peaceful sleeping. I use this car diffuser and it is seriously the best thing I've ever bought. SERIOUSLY. BEST. THING. EVER. 

I have used essential oils topically on Leo (my kitty who gets urinary blockages) but only with a prescription from my vet for specific dilutions and how often I should apply it. 

I'd love to know your experiences. Have you used essential oils with your cats before? What was your experience? Does your kitty have a favorite essential oil to diffuse? 

If you want to share your stories and ask me some kitty cat questions, please join me on my Facebook Group

If you are in the following locations, I highly recommend the following holistic veterinarians. If you check them out be sure to tell them I sent you! 

CENTRAL FLORIDA: Dr. Christie Cichra. I give her full credit for saving Leo's penis and stopping his urinary obstructions. She's amazing. She also does distance consults if you're interested.

ASHEVILLE, NC: Dr. Beth. She is an animal acupuncturist and has helped me with several of my cats including Leo's urinary tract maintenance, Diesel's sinus issues, and Elizabeth Taylor's constipation. 

BREVARD, NC: RiverSong. This is a holistic clinic in WNC that is kind of a bridge between traditional vets and holistic vets. 

USA: Cindy Smith. She isn't technically a holistic vet, but she's an animal communicator. She's helped me figure out who is peeing outside the litter box, resolved emotional issues, and stopped bullying between cats. Online/Distant services offered.

LANSING, MI and USA: Manifested Harmony. Allie (the owner) one of the most amazing people I know. She's an animal right's lawyer, essential oil guru and she is an energy worker. She uses her gifts of Reiki and energy medicine to help both animals and their human companions. She has helped myself and my cats tremendously. She also offers online classes and a variety of training for people who are interested in learning more. Distance services offered.

If you have a local holistic vet or alternative med practitioner - please comment below with their names and location! 
Sherri Griffin
Sherri Griffin

Thanks for checking out my blog. I get serious about a few things in life: animals, chemicals, and food. For the rest I can't promise anything so keep the bar low. For more about me check out my "About Me" page! Happy DIYing!


  1. Impressive article. I don't have a cat or dog, we have grandkids and granddogs now, so never crossed my mind. Good jobs. Oh like your boring disclaimer:)

  2. Finally, an article that makes sense!! Thank you so much for this! Google literally had me thinking I was going to kill my cat by having oils in the house! But it seems it's topical applications that are the big no no if not prescribed! Thank you!



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