Essential oils are, undoubtedly, beneficial for the human body. They can boost mood, relieve pain, and even help repel potentially harmful insects. That, however, doesn’t mean they’re good for pets as well. Cats have an especially toxic relationship with these natural oils, which can damage their liver and other vital organs. In this article, we’ll examine this link in further detail and look at the common toxic essential oils for cats.
Why are essential oils toxic for cats?
Essential oils are not inherently harmful. They’re made from plant extracts and carry many benefits, but cats are highly sensitive to phenols and phenolic compounds, which are found in substantial amounts in certain essential oils. Felines also lack particular enzymes in their liver, making it difficult to metabolize and eliminate toxins like essential oils from their bodies. Additionally, the risk of a potential problem increases with the concentration of the essential oil.
Which essential oils are toxic for cats?
The most toxic essential oils for cats include:
At low concentration, cinnamon is not toxic to cats. However, the concentration is quite high in essential oils, posing a serious health threat to cats. The spice is classified as an irritant by the cats’ body, and exposure to it can lead to skin rashes, redness, and burns. Cats also have thin skin, which easily absorbs cinnamon from the oil, causing liver disease, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Eucalyptus oil helps control blood sugar, reduce inflammation, and treat cold sores in the human body. For cats, it doesn’t have the same effects and can lead to poisoning and other harmful symptoms instead. Cats are highly sensitive to eucalyptus, and their liver is not equipped to process the concentration of the plant in essential oils. Keeping it away from your feline is the only way to prevent these harmful effects.
Like every other essential oil on this list, lavender oil is harmful to cats. Their liver isn’t fit to metabolize the plant, and it plunges their entire system into chaos and leads to symptoms like respiratory trouble, nausea, and sneezing. Even the tiniest exposure to lavender can trigger any of these symptoms, so vets advise pet parents to take great caution before using lavender oil in the house around cats.
Tea tree oil
While tea tree oil is sometimes used to treat fleas in pets, the pure, highly-concentrated version of the essential oil can be incredibly harmful to cats. Vets highly recommend avoiding this toxic essential oil for cats as it irritates the animal’s skin and causes other issues like ataxia, lethargy, tremors, and coma. Too much exposure to tea tree oil, which is easily absorbed by cats’ skin and accumulates in the body, might also prove fatal.