Dear THT, Are Essential Oils Toxic For My Cat?

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Todays question was sent by Katie, via this Facebook post:

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Purity is Paramount!

While it's true that cats metabolize essential oils differently than us, which requires some cautions, I suspect what happened here is not the result of using essential oils.  Unfortunately Sue allowed her want to save money to outweigh her common sense.  She found a bargain at Amazon and bought what is highly likely to be synthetic garbage containing little or no essential oil.  These oils are adulterated with so many chemicals, and are nothing more than a sweet smelling poison that is dangerous, and even deadly when diffused.  It is more likely that Sue unknowingly poisoned her senior cat of 16 years, with fake oil.  For more information on these dangers, see our article, The Real Dangers of Fake Essential Oils

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Facts: Essential Oils For Felines

  • Cats lack an enzyme called glucuronyl transferase. This is important for the Cytochrome p450 liver metabolism pathway. This makes cats very susceptible to ALL kinds of toxicity, including plant, NSAIDS (like aspirin, ibuprofen and Tylenol), chocolate and caffeine (methylxanthines), lead, zinc, and many, many types of pesticides.  
  • Avoid oils high in phenols and eugenols for direct application (topical or internal) such as Basil, Birch, Cinnamon, Clove, Fennel, Melaleuca, Oregano, Peppermint, Thyme, and Wintergreen as well as oils high in d-limonene which includes all Citrus oils.
  • Avoid oils containing monoterpene hydrocarbons for direct application on cats (topical or internal) Essential oils containing monoterpene hydrocarbons include Terpineol: cajuput oil, pine oil, and petigrain oil.  Limonene: Very common in citrus oils.  Pinene: pine oil and other coniferous plants such as fir.
  • You can safely diffuse essential oils diffused, but you must allow your pets to roam freely.
  • There are 70-80 million pet dogs, and 74-96 pet cats in the U.S. and only 44 cases of possible toxicity due to EO's cases reported annually.  Out of them, only 31 of the cases in 10 years were classified as major illness.  How many of these cases included pure essential oils?  A small number, if any, I suspect, since the number of people using adulterated/synthetic essential oils far outnumbers those who are using pure essential oils.  Out of those using essential oils, a very small number of people consult with an aromatherapist regarding proper use.
  • Animals have a natural instinct to heal themselves organically, and used properly, all forms of herbal medicine can be greatly benefitial.
  • Essential oils used on pets must be diluted properly for topical application, and should not be used in this manner daily.  Always consult with an aromatherapist who is well versed in the use of essential oils for pets.
  • Never use essential oils in which you are unsure of purity around your pets.

In Our Home

  • We have been both cat and dog owners our entire lives.
  • We diffuse essential oils all night, every night.  
  • We had a full fledged apothecary in our home when we internet based only. We blended essential oils daily. There was never the slightest bit of trouble with our cat.
  • We allow our cat to roam freely while we diffuse.
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