Are Essential Oils Safe for My Cat?

Essential Oils have been in the news and in social media recently and there have been many questions that here at Lomsnes Veterinary Hospital have heard from our clients. Are essential oils safe to diffuse around cats? Which essential oils can I feed or use on my cat?

The truth is, essential oils may be safe to use in humans, but not all oils are safe for your cat to ingest or apply on their skin. Oils may have a substance called phenols in them. Phenols in particular oils can cause problems when absorbed orally, across the skin, and even when inhaled. Our cats lack a necessary enzyme, called glucuronyltransferase that helps break down essential oils as they are processed in the liver. Although cats lack this enzyme, the method in which cat owners use essential oils can make a difference in their life. For example, there are 2 main types of essential oil diffusers, active and passive. Active diffusers can severely affect the health of your cat since larger quantities of oils can transfer more easily onto and into your animal. Passive diffusers also have their risks of affecting your cat; however, the concerns are lower.

Active diffusers disperse a larger size of the droplet. This means that the main form of exposure would be through skin absorption and ingestion.

Therefore the most common symptoms to watch for are drooling, vomiting, muscle tremors, wobbly when trying to move, respiratory distress, low heart rate, low body temperature, and liver failure.

Passive diffusers, on the other hand, emit more of a gas and will not land on your cat but will more likely be inhaled. This means your cat will show respiratory difficulties.

You may observe them exhibiting fast or laboured breathing, panting, coughing, or wheezing. All of these signs are not normal for cats and should be addressed immediately.

If you notice any of these symptoms in your cat, call Lomsnes Veterinary Hospital immediately. For more information please visit the Pet Poison Helpline website or call 1-855-764-7661.

Written by: Kaitlyn, RVT