Cats and Essential Oils

in Feline Health

Cats are sensitive to essential oils for two reasons.
Not only do felines have very acute senses of smell, but they also have delicate and thin skin, which allows for quicker absorption of these concentrated substances into the bloodstream. Most disturbingly, cats can’t efficiently metabolize the compounds in essential oils, which can lead to toxic build-up in their bodies.   

I did not give you that list to scare you, but to provide you with more information. When we have good information it is easier for us to make better choices for our self as well as our pet. In my Natural Cat shampoos never use Essential Oils which harmful for cats.  cats vs essential oils

What Essential Oils Can Harm Cats?


Here is a list of some essential oils that are known to be toxic to cats:
• Peppermint
• Oregano
• Clove
• Sage
• Citrus oils
• Melaleuca (tea tree oil)
• Cinnamon (cassia)
• Wintergreen
• Thyme
• Birch
• Bergamot
• Pine
• Spruce
• Any other oils containing phenols


What Essential Oils for Cats can we definitely Use? 
Here are the essential oils for cats that are very safe for cat use.
• Clary Sage Essential Oil
• Elemi Essential Oil
• Frankincense Essential Oil
• Geranium Essential Oil
• Helichrysum Essential Oil
• Idaho Balsam Fir Essential Oil
• Lavender Essential Oil
• Roman Chamomile Essential Oil
• Rosemary Essential Oil
• Valerian Essential Oil


What are the signs of Toxicity?

  • Here are some common signs
  • There is a change in their sleeping or eating habits
  • Behavioral changes such as lethargy, lack of energy, or not wanting to be play
  • Digestive imbalances such as vomiting, constipation or diarrhea, or
  • Confusion and light headed.


Cats are particularly sensitive to a group of oxygenated compounds called ketones and phenols, and some monoterpenes.

It is the thujone content in ketones and carvacal in phenols that seem to create most of the problems when not used with enzymes.

Carvacrol is a byproduct of d-limonene which is found in all citrus fruits and in many tree oils.

Examples of essential oils for Cats that should should be used with caution meaning highly diluted are shown below. I say cautiously because all of single oils are fine when used in a professionally made therapeutic blends or supplements (more below); and when used correctly!

And just as with humans, each animal’s chemistry and blood type is different so the response is different!

Examples of Phenols – Wintergreen, Anise, Birch, Clove, Basil, Tarragon, Fennel, Oregano, Thyme, Mountain Savory, Peppermint, Tea Tree, Calamus, Cinnamon Bark, Citronella, Marjoram, Nutmeg, Eucalyptus citriodora, Parsley, Ylang Ylang. These all contain greater than 8% phenols.

Examples of Ketones – Western Red Cedar, Idaho Tansy, Marigold, Spearmint, Thuja, Hyssop, Davana, Sage, Dill, Yarrow, Peppermint. All these oils contain greater than 20% ketones.

Example of Oils containing D-Limonene – Grapefruit, Bitter Orange, Orange, Tangerine, Mandarin, Lemon, Celery Seed, Lime, Bergamot, Angelica, Dill, Neroli, Blue Tansy, Citronella and Nutmeg.

Examples of Oils containing Alpha-pinene – Cypress, Cistus, Pine, Douglas fir, Juniper, Myrtle,  Silver Fir, Angelica, Nutmeg, Eucalyptus, Dill, Spruce. These are all monoterpenes that have alpha-pinene concentrations greater than 15%.

Here is a list of single oils that I use infrequently or not at all with cats in particular: Black Pepper, Cardamon, Carrot Seed, Celery Seed, Cinnamon Bark, Citronella, Clove, Galbanum, Ginger, Juniper, Melaleuca species (use with extreme caution and monitor cat), Palmarosa, Petitgrain and Western Red Cedar.