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Essential Oils for Cats – 3 Tips for Safe Usage

essential oils for cats

We all have a friend who swears there is an essential oil to treat any ailment you may have. Maybe that person is you! As essential oils become more and more popular, kitty parents who use them to treat themselves are beginning to wonder whether using essential oils for cats can provide the same benefits. In this article, I am going to give you my opinion about essential oils and their applications for cats. 

Are essential oils safe for cats?

This is a tough question to answer.

While essential oils are ‘natural’, they are extremely concentrated. In fact, sometimes they are unnaturally concentrated. This doesn’t necessarily make them bad, but they do deserve respect and some caution. Unfortunately, like most medications and supplements, we don’t have a significant amount of safety data for essential oil use in cats. There are reports of certain essential oils like melaleuca (tea tree) causing neurological problems in cats when given at too high of a dose. I have seen a couple of cases of diffused essential oils causing seizures in cats. While these are isolated cases, we don’t understand what dose can cause symptoms and why some cats are more sensitive than others.

If you decide to use them for your kitty, here are three ways you can make using essential oils for cats safer:

  1. Dilution. The dose really does make the poison. If you elect to use a diffuser, use the smallest possible amount of essential oil diluted in water.
  2. Direct application. Anything you apply to your kitty’s skin or fur will end up in their stomach. They are such vigorous and thorough groomers. I feel much more comfortable with topical applications to dogs than cats. However, if you do decide to use essential oils topically for your cat, be sure to properly dilute them in a carrier oil such as liquid coconut oil or olive oil.
  3. Asthma. I completely avoid diffusing essential oils around cats that have asthma. Clean air quality is paramount to controlling the symptoms.
essential oils for cats

Possible therapeutic value of essential oils for cats

I am a big fan of plant medicine in general. I predict that the antibacterial properties of essentials oils will be useful in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This is a growing problem and I hope that the power of plants can help us. Essential oils may be helpful for ear and skin infections. Using them as a treatment for internal disease like bladder and liver infections requires much more study. Essential oils may also prove to help with anxiety and behavior problems.

Does your cat want to smell that?

Putting the possible benefits of essential oils for cats aside for a moment, let’s consider your cat’s experience. I remember the first essential oil party I attended. The scent of orange oil was so strong, and I left with a headache. Cats have a much more sensitive sense of smell compared to humans. If you decide to use essential oils, allow your kitty to remove themselves from the smell if desired.

My opinion on essential oils for cats

I don’t use essential oils in my practice. I do love herbal and plant medicine. I use Western & Chinese herbal remedies every day, and I tend to feel more comfortable with these modalities. I do think that essential oils have a place in medicine and for now I feel intimidated by their strength. I would like to see more safety studies or learn from a proficient practitioner. 

Do you use essential oils for your kitty? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below!

With love meow and furever,

Dr. Angie

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6 thoughts on “Essential Oils for Cats – 3 Tips for Safe Usage”

  1. I recommend checking out Melissa Shelton DVM. She had created her own brand of essential oil blends called animalEO that are safe for all animals. She has many years of research and says it’s quality that is most important when using EO’s and that animals respond better to EO blends. Her Facebook page is a wealth of info and she answers many questions herself. I’m a CVT myself and I’ve been using her blends on my cats, dogs, and myself topically and via water based diffusion for 7 years. I have had great results with no issues and yearly bloodwork looks great(they range in from from 7 to almost 20 years old) For instance,my almost 11 year old cat that’s had kidney disease since I got him at 5 months old gets weekly subQ fluids and 2-3 times a week topical application(it’s ok and a good thing for the cats to lick the oil off themselves) of animalEO Uroboost formula (for the last 7 years) and looks and feels great! I will try to post her newsletter about cats and essential oils but the bottom line is her and her animalEO brand oils are worth checking out!
    Nicole Hartman

  2. I like Caroline Ingraham’s zoopharmacognosy approach to using EOs with cats. She wrote “Animal Self Medication”. For cats, she primarily recommends inhalation. I have been trying it here and there, it is exciting when the cat selects an EO that is offered. She licks her lips, flairs her nostrils, closes her eyes, etc. Here is a short video where she is working with a frightened rescue kitty:

  3. I’m with you. No essential oils for cats and no plugins either. Every time I think about using things I look it up first, peppermint oil is supposed to keep mice away but it’s bad for cats enjoy your post thank you so much Debbie

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