Frankly Speaking Friday- Cats and Essential Oils Don't Mix!

I am taking a break from the Summer Relief Recipes to remind, or perhaps inform for the first time, the dangers of mixing Essential Oils with cats. We all know that dogs and cats are different, but when it comes to how their bodies deal with  processing essential oils, they are worlds apart. Let me begin by clearly and blatantly stating that you can KILL your cat by using essential oil products on them, or even around them if you are not cautious. 

Humans quickly become used to the intensity of a beautiful aroma, or really any aroma at all, it is called adaptation.  This is why we have the habit of 'freshening up' scents repeatedly. This is why we keep spraying the air fresheners and the perfumes, and why we add more and more essential oils to the diffuser, which is definitely not good for the cat. Cats have many more olfactory receptors than humans do, so they are bombarded by these scents, odors, and essential oils used in our homes. To understand adaption better, leave the room/area that you have doused in scent. Go to another area that is not affected by the diffusion, and stay there for about 15 minutes, then re-enter the room that you have been diffusing. You will once again smell the aroma that you thought was faded. This adaption is why you get used to the litter box smell while in your home, but will smell it strongly when you come in from outside. It is also why holding your breath, or stepping away from a bad smelling situation is not the best way to deal with it.

It is imperative for the health and well being of cats that they are not forced to inhale essential oils in any quantity. You must remember that essential oils are concentrated, and have medicinal properties. While dogs and humans can tolerate and process any [normal amount of] absorption, feline bodies cannot. Plus their heightened olfactory sense multiplies the effects.

The ASPCA warns that cats are sensitive to the effects of essential oils, but many owners dont think to check out the site for this type of information, it is seemingly so innocent. This is another reason that we need to learn all we can and share this information.  Now, the ASPCA does point out that most feline exposure tends to occur when the cats lap up heated liquid from a simmer pot, or when liquid spills on their fur from a leaky container and they then lick it off, but there are articles that point out that concentrated essential oils can harm cats by inhalation, as well as topical application. Although the exact level of essential oils in sprays and in burning oils that will cause harm is not really known, they suggest that when you are diffusing oils you should try not to use excessive amounts of essential oils, and that you choose oils which have lower volatility. 

Most importantly though, you need to ensure good air circulation. Especially during the diffusion process, so that the local concentrations of essential oil vapors are not built up in non-air exchanged areas that are inhabited by the cat. You need to make sure that the cat can get to an undiffused area and breath clean air at any and all times.  It is best to only diffuse in an individual room if the cat does not have access to clean air, then block the cat out of that diffused room if possible, or at least allow it to roam out of that room and into non-diffused rooms. Toxicology studies show that the feline liver usually needs 48 hours to process and excrete 'terpenes', the substance in essential oils that is harmful to them. So make sure to allow at lease 48 hours between the end of your last diffusion and the starting of another, to avoid repeated inhalation exposure.

Never use any essential oil product on the cats skin, their bedding, or even on areas where they will sit or walk. Cats are groomers and they will lick their paws and fur, ingesting whatever is on them. You really need to view your cat as a baby, and the essential oils as poison. By having knowledge of, and a healthy dose of respect for essential oils, you can keep your cats safe and still enjoy the benefits of these therapeutic oils yourself!


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