A few times a week I’m approached with questions about essential oil use and cats. As aromatherapists, we have studied the interaction between humans and essential oils pretty thoroughly, but there is still quite a lot of speculation and controversy regarding efficacy and safe use for cats.
In my opinion, it’s better to be safe than sorry. I’m always on the side of caution, because I have seen the effects of misuse of essential oils first hand too often. Because animals can’t communicate directly the issues they may experience, it is even more important that as their guardians, we are extra careful.
Here are the practices that I follow personally, as I’ve been blessed with many kitties in my home. I do not advocate applying essential oils neat (undiluted) ever to cats, and really to any animal without the guidance of a veternarian or a clinical aromatherapist. Cats do not have the liver enzymes that humans possess to metabolize many essential oils, which is the entire point of using aromatherapy therapeutically. If they are unable to uptake it, we shouldn’t be applying it to their skin, as it won’t do them any good and could quite possibly harm them. I would never suggest giving a cat essential oils to ingest, either. If you apply essential oils to your skin, let them soak in before holding your cat so that it doesn’t transfer to them through snuggling and kitty kisses.
Diffusing in a home with cats can be safely done, with a few precautions. Remember, diffusing essential oils can be toxic to humans if it is overdone. You’d usually notice headache or fatigue as first symptoms of overuse, cats can’t let you know that. The key to keeping things safe is low level, intermittent diffusion. Make sure you are diffusing in small amounts, for limited periods of time and offer your cat a way out of the room, should they need some fresh air. They are smart and will leave if something is bothersome to them.
There are a few books that I recommend to check out if you’re interested in more information. Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals: A Comprehensive Guide to the Use of Essential Oils & Hydrosols with Animals by Kristen Leigh Bell and Veterinary Aromatherapy by Nelly Grosjean. They have both worked extensively with animals and aromatherapy and are great resource books. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please let me know. I’m always happy to help in any way that I can.
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