A previous post discussed pine oil and the possible safety issues of the use of pine in cat litter and other common household products. Pine is just one of several essential oils which can be toxic to cats and small house pets.
Essential oils are used in many forms throughout our homes including some common household products. In fact, several essential oils such as orange, lemon, and pine are well known as powerful cleaning agents, and therefore these scents are frequently present in cleaning products. Many of us enjoy aromatherapy and use various essential oils in potpourri or a diffuser to enjoy the healing properties of the oils. Lavender, Tea Tree Oil, Orange or Lemon Oil, and Eucalyptus are all pleasant and useful to humans for their various medicinal properties. Unfortunately, these same oils pose danger for cats and other small house pets.
Cats are unable to properly metabolize essential oils and over time the toxins build up and can damage the liver. Cats in toxic overload may exhibit symptoms such as dizziness, lack of appetite, vomiting, lack of balance, lethargy, and extreme cases of toxicity may lead to death.
While many of us know not to apply essential oils directly – either via mouth or by spraying or rubbing the oils on our cats – it is important to realize that simply inhaling essential oils also poses a danger to cats. Whether absorbed through the skin or inhaled, repeated exposure to essential oils can build toxic levels to the danger point.
Hydrosols, a distilled by-product of essential oils, are considered by most to be safe for cats. If you are a big fan of aromatherapy for yourself or your animals, hydrosols may be an alternative to consider, and some household products are now using hydrosols in place of essential oils.
Cats are extremely sensitive to scent, and animals in general have an innate sense of danger. If your cat is showing signs of avoidance – of a room or area of the house, or even of their litter box – check to see if there might be essential oil scents which concern your cat. Some strong-smelling candles, for example, are scented with an essential oil, and just the candle in a room may be enough to turn your cat away. If your cat is having litter box issues, check the ingredient list on the litter to see if an essential oil is being used for odor control.
There are many essential oils and I can’t list them all here, but I will list those considered to be the most dangerous to cats based on several different resources and in no particular order: Oregano, Bay Leaf, Parsley and Savory, Cedar Leaf, Sage, Hyssop, Cyprus, Lavender, Eucalyptus, Mint ,Caraway, Citronella, Clove, Ginger, Chamomile, Thyme and Rosemary, Pine, Peppermint, Lemon, Melaleuca and Tea Tree Oil, Cinnamon Bark Oil, Wintergreen, and other oils containing phenol (see “Danger for Cats: Pine and Essental Oils” for more on phenols).
There is myriad of information, some of it conflicting, available. As a start, I recommend the Lavender Cat website for more in depth explanations than what I’ve been able to provide. Note: essential oils should not be confused with flower essence remedies. Flower essences are generally considered very safe for animals.
I look forward to working with your beloved animals for a variety of relevant topics. Schedule your animal communication consultation now for a deeper understanding of behaviors, symptoms, and quality of life.