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What Essential Oils Are Safe To Diffuse Around Cats

Once you start reading about the effects of essential oils on cats, you will probably become entirely lost. 

A debate is quite harsh, and it seems that there is no way to find a touchpoint between two irreconcilable currents. For example, most of my colleagues have been using essential oils for years as excellent insecticides against fleas. On the other hand, some people believe that they pose a highly toxic risk to our furry friends.

Well, you should avoid applying essential oils, even diluted, directly to the cat’s fur or skin. Also, don't give these highly concentrated oils orally to your cat because it lacks a particular liver enzyme. However, like every other dilemma, this one is not strictly black and white. Let's find all the shades of gray hiding between the passionate extremes.

The Ways Essential Oils Affect Your Cat

How Many Kittens Can Cats Have

For a start, I need to say - No, diffusing essential oils will not kill your cat! Yes, it will be probably sensitive to some of them. Cats do not have enough enzymes glucuronyl transferase in their livers, which is necessary for the full metabolizing of oil. 

Some of these oils are highly toxic to cats generally, but it does not mean that all of them wait the right moment to kill your pet!

After reading some of the hysterical articles on the net, I have made a bright, Hollywood scene in my mind. 

I am coming into the room and put a few drops of my favorite lavender essential oil into the bowl full of water like always. As a result, all three of my cats drop dead immediately because the Net says so! What nonsense!

The truth is that your cat is more sensitive to certain essential oils than you are. The reason is, among others, its unique liver metabolism. However, you can be sure that your worldly-wise pet has a few alternative ways to metabolize these oils without any problems.

Of course, it does not mean that you should use your diffuser maniacally, ten times a day, but, yes, you can make your home fresh regularly. The only thing you need to take care of is to choose essential oils harmless for your furry friend.

How Sensitive Is The Nose of Your Cat?

Excessive diffusion of essential oils may cause respiratory or liver issues in cats. However, no one can claim such a thing for sure since there is no scientific confirmation of the consequences of the longtime inhalation of these oils.

The fact is that your cat has a scent sensitivity more than fourteen times greater than yours, thanks to over 200 000 000 scent cells. You have a modest 5 000 000 of them in your nose. I suppose it is all clear to you.

Plus, your weird furry ball has a lot of scent glands all over her chin, lips, forehead, front paws, even tail! Can you imagine that?!

If you know these facts, your common sense will tell you how careful you should be with essential oil spraying in the presence of your cat. That's all.

Essential Oils Your Cat Will Adore

As always, there are several exceptions to the rule. That means that there are essential oils entirely safe and even beneficial for your cat. All in all, it sounds reasonable that essential oils are safer than artificial air fresheners.

Rosemary essential oil - I like the scent of rosemary, but I use it as flea repellent, as well. My two beauties have no objections by now. You can use a few drops of essential oil or a twig of rosemary and add them to a pot of boiled water. 

Dilute it in a tub full of water and bath your cat for 2 to 5 minutes. I have to admit that there is no way to force my Clementine to jump into the water. If your cat hates taking a bath, find another solution.

Jasmine essential oil - It is well-known as an excellent choice when it comes to reducing depression and stress in cats. Since they are quite prone to these disorders, you can use this particular oil to put their hormones into a balance. It may boost the mood of your cat, as well. Hmm. Yes, it can if your cat decides so.

Cedar-wood essential oil - Since it does not contain phenols, this oil is safe for your cat. Plus, it may kill adult fleas, which will help you get rid of these horrible creatures without using chemicals.

Lemongrass essential oil - You can find in the form of a 100% non-alcoholic hydrosol. Used at a low concentration, it is entirely safe for your furry friend. Avoid direct contact with the cat's skin.

Clary sage essential oil - It is an excellent choice for you to relax and rejuvenate without any adverse effects on your cat.

Frankincense essential oil - It is an efficient antiseptic and anti-inflammatory agent, but may solve the digestive problems of your cat, as well. However, don't try such treatment by yourself.

Lavender essential oil - Whether it will be safe or not for your cat, depends on the level of its sensitivity. My cats are usually satisfied with the lavender fragrance, and they have never shown any signs of poisoning.  

My three cuties like chamomile and sweet basil essential oils, too. Based on my experience, I can say that they are safe for cats. Plus, I appreciate their anti-inflammatory properties.

Dry Cat Nose

Essential Oils Safe for Your Cat

If you are careful, you can use most of the essential oils even though you have a cat. Toxicity is a result of applying highly concentrated essential oils, but diluted oils used in small quantities are usually harmless for your furry friend.

If you like some oils containing chemicals dangerous for your cat, you can solve the problem by diluting them to a 95% rate. Some of the most popular are:

  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Clove
  • Cinnamon
  • Peppermint
  • Cypress
  • Marjoram
  • Wintergreen

Some essential oils are highly beneficial for cats as a remedy. However, their applying is tricky because there is a thin line between a cure and a poison. The secret is in the right concentration! Therefore, you should not take them on your own. It is a job for professionals.

Essential Oils Good For Cats

Precautions When Using a Diffuser

Choose the less active diffuser, which releases a moderate amount of oil droplets. That way, you can enjoy a beautifully fragrant home without harming your cat.

Never let direct contact of essential oils and the skin and fur of your cat. You do not want your cat to ingest the oil while licking itself. Also, you should give it a choice and provide an escape route for it while diffusing essential oils.

If you notice any of the following signs after using a diffuser, you should become suspicious that your cat is poisoned:

  • Apprehension, restlessness, or hyperactivity
  • Arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm)
  • Muscle tremors and ataxia (lack of coordination)
  • Vomiting
  • Drooling (uncontrolled dropping of saliva)
  • Dark mucous membrane
  • Green or even black urine
  • Shock

In such a case, call poison control right away. Be prepared that the toxicologist needs to know:

  • Which one essential oil you used
  • The precise weight of your cat
  • The amount of applied, ingested, or inhaled oil
  • When the exposure happened

Possibly Toxic Essential Oils for Your Cat

The liver of your cat absorbs and metabolizes nutrients differently than yours. Since it cannot breakdown some of the compounds, take care to avoid essential oils containing them in too high concentration.

Most problems make some chemicals such as phenols or ketones. Therefore, take care to use diluted oil with less than 8% concentration of phenols and 20% of ketones.

Phenols - They can be toxic to your cat, but be prepared that they may cause increased sensitivity in you too if overexposed.

Essential Oils Bad For Cats

Terpenes - These compounds are highly harmful to your cat when applied topically or ingested.

Ketones - They have calming properties for you, but you should avoid spraying them around if you have a cat.

Essential Oils Bad For Cats


The fact is that there are no results of any scientific research confirming that diffusing a particular essential oil may harm your cat. We can assume that some of them are toxic and life-threatening for your beauty, based on its genetics. However, as long as you are careful while using these oils, there is no reason to worry.

Jovanka Panic

My name is Jovanka Panic. I am a writer, translator, veterinarian, humanitarian, and a passionate traveler. After playing with white bears and elephants in the Belgrade ZOO and dealing with Rabies virus in the Institute Pasteur, I enjoy writing. My five beasts are my ultimate love, including three cats (Clementine, Josephine, and Sophia) and their 'mom' American Stafford Terrier (Malena).

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