Essential Oils Toxicity in Cats

Now that essential oils are so popular, we get a lot of questions about what essential oils will kill cats. And it’s a pretty good question because cats are very sensitive to essential oils and can sometimes even be poisoned by the scent in the air due to their ultra-sensitive olfactory system. This fact should be enough to make you think twice before using an essential oil around your cat.

Essential Oils Killed My Cat

“I am a newbie to essential oils and I used them in my diffuser at night. I had the diffuser in my bedroom with the door closed. My cat slept on my bed with me. After a few nights, she began having seizures and had horrible diarrhea. The vet thought it might be an infection and started her on antibiotics. She also had an MRI done to determine if she had any brain damage. I was devastated!”

“I was unsure of what to do with the oils, and because I’d been following the instructions on the bottles, I assumed they were safe. So I rubbed them on his ear tips and paws, which were red and irritated from scratching. He seemed to like it at first, but then he stopped purring and began licking his lips nervously. I picked him up and examined his eyes for dilated pupils or other signs of toxicity, but the problem was too subtle to see.

Later that night, my husband and I heard a strange noise in our bedroom. We turned on the light and saw our cat sprawled out with wide-open pupils. He wasn’t moving at all.

I later found out that the oils had overloaded my cat’s liver, causing him to have seizures. He died within two days, despite receiving emergency care at a pet hospital.”

Essential oils killed my cat?

The essential oils that have been known to kill cats are those that are very strong and those with the greatest chance of triggering an adverse reaction. Some of the most powerful and deadly of all the essential oils, as well as some of the ones most likely to cause problems, include:

  • Eucalyptus
  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Tea tree
  • Peppermint
  • Pine
  • Wintergreen
  • Citrus oils
  • Sweet birch
  • Ylang ylang

The safest rule of thumb is this: do not use any essential oils on your cat unless you have consulted with your veterinarian first.

Are essential oils making my cat sick?

Cats are at risk of exposure when they come in contact with diffusers, spray mists, cleaners, or scented products that contain essential oils. In some cases, cats have even gotten sick from walking across surfaces where essential oils were used. In other cases, the oils have been placed directly on cats either intentionally or accidentally.

The majority of cats who ingest essential oils will develop gastrointestinal upset, including drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. Inhaling essential oils can cause sneezing, coughing, congestion, and wheezing in cats. Ingestion of essential oil can also lead to a sudden drop in blood pressure, central nervous system depression, and even liver or kidney failure.

If you know your cat has ingested essential oil or has gotten it on his skin or in his eyes, call your veterinarian immediately and follow any instructions given. If you have called a poison control hotline such as ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) and they give you advice that differs from your vet’s advice, do not follow the advice from one over the other.

Can cats recover from essential oil poisoning?

Some types of essential oils are more toxic than others. If you suspect your cat has been exposed to essential oils, call your veterinarian immediately. Time is critical in this situation; immediate treatment could mean the difference between life and death for your pet.

Your veterinarian will perform a physical examination and ask you questions about the exposure to determine what kind of treatment your cat needs. There is no antidote for the poisoning; however, with early intervention and supportive treatment, most cats will survive.

The first step your veterinarian may take is to induce vomiting to prevent absorption of the oil into your cat’s body. After that, they may induce diarrhea to eliminate any remaining oil from the digestive tract. Your veterinarian may also administer activated charcoal orally or by enema to help absorb any remaining oil in its intestines and prevent further absorption into its body.

How much essential oil is toxic to cats?

A drop or two of essential oil, or even just a quick lick, can be enough to make your cat sick. It’s also important to know that cats are more sensitive than dogs to essential oils, so it doesn’t take as much oil to make them sick.

Severe cases may result in seizures and respiratory failure or cardiac arrest. If you suspect your cat has been exposed to essential oils and is showing signs of illness, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Conclusion of essential oils for cats

It is important to know each oil’s individual properties before deciding which ones to use. Some oils are toxic to cats and others can cause serious harm even in small amounts.

Here are some tips for using essential oils with cats:

  • Always dilute the oil with a carrier oil.
  • Keep the diffuser out of reach of pets.
  • Don’t spray directly on your cat or in her face.
  • Don’t use any oil around a pregnant or nursing cat.
  • Avoid spraying essential oils in the area where the cat eats or drinks, as they may lick their fur and ingest the oil. Be careful not to spray essential oils on surfaces where food is prepared either because they could get into your cat’s diet through ingestion if they eat off of those surfaces later on down the road.

Essential oils have a wide range of uses for humans, and many cat owners are wondering if they can use essential oils for cats in the same way. While there are many benefits to a wide range of essential oils, there are also some risks. You should always consult a vet before using any essential oils with your cat. Never apply essential oil directly to your cat’s fur and always keep your cat away from diffusers.

Finally, don’t forget that all cats have different reactions to scents, even certain essential oils. So keep an eye on your cat after you introduce any new smells into the home. If he seems overly sensitive to the scent or displays unusual behavior, discontinue use immediately.

Are Essential Oils Safe for Cats?

Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

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