Essential Oils Safe For Cats – What’s Safe and What’s Not

Cats have been captivating humans for centuries. The curious journey of how these felines evolved from wild hunters to our beloved companions is a tale that piques one’s intrigue. But wait! Isn’t this article about finding out the essential oils safe for cats? That’s why you clicked, right? Don’t worry, you are at the right place. (Cat videos are a rage on the internet, let’s see if cat history get more (c)licks on this article.) Okay, back in ancient times, people discovered the charm of having a purring friend around, but taking care of them was a different ballgame.

Ancient Cat Story:

In the days of pharaohs and pyramids, cats were revered in Egyptian society. They were not only valued for their pest control skills, but were considered sacred companions to the gods. (Remember the 1999 movie “Mummy”, where the cat scares the bad guy?) Fast forward to medieval Europe, where cats faced a slightly more precarious situation during the infamous witch trials. Luckily, they emerged unscathed and continued their journey into our homes.

Cat Care in the Old Days:

In the early days of domestication, folks had their own ways of pampering their feline friends. Cats were often provided with scraps from the dinner table, a cozy corner by the fire, and maybe a gentle scratch behind the ears. It was a simple life, but it worked.

Modern Cat Comforts:

Fast forward to the 21st century, where we have an entire industry dedicated to the well-being of our whiskered companions. (We did spoil them.) From high-tech self-cleaning litter boxes to interactive toys that mimic real prey, cats today live in the lap of luxury. But, amidst the many products, there’s a rising trend that’s more than just a passing fad – essential oils for cats.

The Essence of Natural Care:

Essential oils have become a go-to for many cat parents who seek a natural approach to care. Unlike synthetic products that may contain harsh chemicals, essential oils offer a gentler alternative. However, caution is the key, especially when it comes to our feline friends.

Safe Scents for Whiskers:

Lavender, chamomile, and frankincense are among the essential oils that have gained popularity as safe choices for cats. (More on that later.) If diluted and used mindfully, these oils can create a purr-fectly calming atmosphere at home. The best part? It’s a nod to ancient practices of using nature to enhance our connection with these sly creatures.

In an online store filled with high-tech gadgets for our feline companions, the simplicity of essential oils adds a touch of nature to our modern cat care routine. So, the next time your kitty curls up for a nap, consider adding a drop of natural flavor to the air – don’t worry, the ancient Egyptians would likely approve of this modern twist on feline pampering (the Mummy would not)!

Are All The Essential Oils Safe For Cats?

While essential oils have gained popularity for their various benefits, it’s important to note that not all of them are safe for our feline friends. Cats have a unique physiology different from ours, and certain essential oils can be toxic to them. The problem arises because of the multitude of essential oils available in the market.

To ensure the well-being of your furry companion, it’s recommended to do thorough research or consult with a veterinarian before using any essential oils around cats. Essential oils come from plants (or extracted from plants) and have different ingredients, which when comes in contact with your cat may be toxic essential oils. Always prioritize the safety of your purry-furry pals!

How Many Essential Oils Are There?

The world of essential oils is teeming with fragrant possibilities, but pin pointing an exact number is trickier than sniffing out a top note. Estimates range widely, from over 90 commonly used oils to potentially hundreds waiting to be discovered.

And then there are the blends. The exact count depends on whether you count only commercially extracted oils or include rarer ones, and whether you categorize essential oils differently within specific plant families. So, while there is no definitive answer, the abundance of scents is undeniable.

Essential Oils Safe For Cats

While many essential oils can be beneficial for humans, it’s important to approach their use around cats with caution. Cats have a unique physiology, and some essential oils can be harmful or toxic to them.

However, there are a few essential oils that are generally considered safe for use around cats, of course when used appropriately and in moderation. Here are some essential oils that are often deemed safe for cats:

1. Lavender Essential Oil for Cats

It has calming properties; hence, lavender oil is one of the safer options for use around cats. However, ensure proper dilution and monitor your cat’s response. A study published in the journal Medicines on 2017 concluded that essential oils were effective in tackling otitis externa in pets. [1]

2. Chamomile Essential Oil for Cats

Chamomile oil is gentle and can promote relaxation and reduce stress. When properly diluted, it may help alleviate stress and anxiety in cats.

3. Frankincense Essential Oil for Cats

Frankincense oil is one of them essential oils that is often considered safe for cats when diluted. It has potential calming effects and can be used cautiously.

4. Catnip Essential Oil for Cats

The most common choice for essential oil for cats, perhaps because it has the word cat in it. Catnip is a cat-friendly herb that many felines enjoy. The essential oil derived from catnip is generally safe when used in moderation.

5. Helichrysum Essential Oil for Cats

This oil is known for its potential wound-healing properties and sweet fragrance, and is considered safe for cats when appropriately diluted.

In terms of safety, the essential oils listed here are generally considered safe for use around cats when following proper guidelines. However, it’s essential to refrain from assuming that all essential oils are equally safe. While some people may suggest additional essential oils safe for cats, it’s crucial to be aware that not all oils are suitable for feline companions.

Oils such as tea tree, citrus, pine, and eucalyptus, for example, can be toxic to cats (although they are wonderful for humans) and should be avoided. Always prioritize your cat’s well-being, and if in doubt, consult with a veterinarian before introducing any new essential oils into your cat’s environment. Your vigilant approach will help ensure a harmonious and safe atmosphere for both you and your feline friend.

How to Use Essential Oils Safe for Cats

Do note that individual cats may react differently, and proper dilution is essential to avoid adverse effects. Always consult a veterinarian before introducing any essential oils to your cat’s environment, especially if your cat has any pre-existing health conditions.

Here are some general tips when using essential oils around cats:

Dilution: Always dilute essential oils before use. Use a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba oil to dilute the essential oil.

Monitoring: Observe your cat’s behavior when introducing new scents. If you notice any signs of discomfort, discontinue use immediately.

Avoid Toxic Oils: Some essential oils, such as tea tree, citrus, pine, and eucalyptus, can be toxic to cats and should be avoided.

Consult a Veterinarian: Always. Before using any essential oils for specific purposes, it’s advisable to consult with your veterinarian to ensure the safety of your cat.

(Remember, each cat is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Always prioritize the well-being of your feline friend and exercise caution when incorporating essential oils into their environment.)

Essential Oils Unsafe for Cats

When it comes to essential oils and cats, not all oils are created equal. Some essential oils can pose serious health risks and are considered unsafe for use around our feline friends. It’s crucial for cat owners to be aware of these potentially harmful oils to ensure the well-being of their pets. Here are some essential oils that are definitely considered unsafe for cats:

  1. Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca)

It is known for its antiseptic properties. Tea tree oil is highly toxic to cats and may lead to symptoms such as lethargy, tremors, and difficulty walking. It impacts the liver because the toxins is metabolized by the liver and cats do not have the enzymes that break it.

2. Group of Citrus Oils

Some of the oils in this group includes Lemon, Orange, Grapefruit oil. Citrus oils contain compounds that can be irritating to a cat’s digestive system and may cause vomiting or diarrhea.

3. Pine Oil

Pine oil can cause adverse reactions in cats, including nausea, vomiting, and central nervous system depression. Essential oils are toxic to your cats even through hairballs.

4. Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus oil contains compounds that can be toxic to cats and may lead to symptoms such as excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty breathing.

5. Cinnamon Oil

Cinnamon oil can be irritating to a cat’s skin and may cause dermatitis. Ingesting cinnamon oil can lead to digestive issues and other severe complications.

6. Wintergreen Oil

Wintergreen oil contains methyl salicylate, which can be toxic to cats and may lead to symptoms such as difficulty breathing, lethargy, and even organ failure.

7. Peppermint Oil

While some cats may tolerate diluted peppermint oil in very small amounts, it’s generally advisable to avoid it, as it can be too strong for their sensitive systems.

It’s important to note that even oils not listed here may have varying effects on individual cats. Always err on the side of caution and consult a vet before using any essential oils around your cat.

Side Effects of Using Essential Oils For Cats

Using essential oils for cats requires careful consideration, as felines can have unique sensitivities to certain compounds. While some essential oils are generally considered safe when used in moderation and properly diluted, it’s crucial to be aware of potential side effects. Here are some common side effects associated with using essential oils for cats:

Toxicity: Some essential oils contain active ingredients that can be toxic to cats. Examples include oils such as tea tree, pine, eucalyptus, and wintergreen. Ingesting or coming into direct contact with these oils may lead to adverse reactions.

A study by an Associate Veterinarian shows how the symptoms may even lead to liver failure. [2] Concentrated essential oil poisoning in cats is quite common and hence only those oils are commonly used that are safe for your cats.

Respiratory Issues: Cats have a heightened sense of smell, and strong odors from essential oils can be overwhelming. Diffusing potent oils without proper ventilation may lead to respiratory issues, causing coughing, sneezing, or difficulty breathing. The symptoms of essential oil poisoning may vary. Essential oils can also cause low heart rate & low body temperature. 

Skin Irritation: Applying undiluted essential oils directly to a cat’s skin can cause irritation. Cats may groom themselves, and ingesting concentrated oils from their fur can lead to digestive upset.

Gastrointestinal Distress: Ingesting certain essential oils, even in small amounts, can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or other gastrointestinal issues in cats. The cat may lick the oil on its paws and ingest it. 

Allergic Reactions: Cats, like humans, can have allergic reactions to substances, including essential oils. Signs of an allergic reaction may include itching, swelling, or redness.

Central Nervous System Effects: Some oils may affect a cat’s central nervous system, leading to symptoms such as lethargy, wobbliness, disorientation, or changes in behavior. Oils like clove when diffused through essential oil diffusers may increase heart rate, body temperature and respiratory distress. 

To minimize the risk of side effects, it’s crucial to follow these guidelines when using essential oils around cats:

Dilution: Always dilute essential oils before using them around cats. Consult with a veterinarian to determine the appropriate dilution ratios. Cats exposed to highly concentrated essential oils should never be left unattended, they should be taken to an emergency clinic.

Avoid Toxic Oils: Steer clear of oils known to be toxic to cats, such as tea tree, citrus, and certain others. Also be mindful of room sprays that have these toxins. Oils like pennyroyal may result in side effects; rush the cat to an emergency veterinary centre or ASPCA poison control. 

Observation: Monitor your cat for any signs of discomfort or adverse reactions when introducing new essential oils. If you notice any unusual behavior or symptoms, discontinue use immediately.

Consult a Veterinarian: Before incorporating essential oils into your cat’s environment or using them for specific purposes, consult with a veterinarian to ensure the safety of your feline friend.


While essential oils can add a pleasant touch to our surroundings, responsible use is called for when it comes to our feline companions. By understanding the essential oils that are safe for cats and being vigilant about potential risks, cat owners can create a harmonious environment that promotes both well-being and natural aromatherapy. Always consult a veterinarian before using essential oils for cats, choose those oils carefully, and prioritize the safety and happiness of your beloved feline friends.

  • Ebani, V.V., Nardoni, S., Bertelloni, F., Najar, B., Pistelli, L. and Mancianti, F., 2017. Antibacterial and antifungal activity of essential oils against pathogens responsible for otitis externa in dogs and cats. Medicines, 4(2), p.21.
  • Benson, K., 2019. Essential Oils and Cats. Pet Poison Helpline.