It’s not uncommon to see essential oils in households these days, but what essential oils are safe for cats? Many people use these oils for their abundance of wellness and health benefits, but we have to think about the impacts on our feline friends. 

Essential oils have become the cure for anxiety in the modern age, but do they fare as well for our cats? Let’s learn the answer to this and many more questions:

What Are Essential Oils and How Do They Work?

Commonly used in wellness industries, essential oils come in various scents and have many health benefits like reducing stress and anxiety and promoting general wellness. Unsurprisingly, they found their way into many homes. They’re natural oils obtained by distillation. The odor is extracted and then diffused or dispersed into the air, usually with diffusers. So what does this mean for your cat? Is diffusing essential oils safe for cats? To answer this question, we should first explore your pet’s sense of smell.

What Can Cats Smell That We Can’t?

Our feline friends have a powerful olfactory sense, and it’s much stronger than ours. Humans have 5 million sensors in their noses, while cats have over 200 million. Their sense of smell is 14 times better than ours

So, when we’re using essential oils, we should be aware of their effect on our furry friends.

Are Essential Oils Safe for Cats?

While essential oils have a wide range of uses for humans, and they smell nice, they can cause harm to cats if we’re not careful. These oils can be toxic if your cat comes into contact with them via the skin, ingestion, or inhalation. As a result, your pet can become very unwell.

Is It Safe to Use Essential Oils Around Cats?

While some essential oils are safe for cats, we should always be careful how we use them around our furry pals. Here are a few crucial guidelines to follow:

  • Keep essential oils away from your cat’s skin. Diffusers are among the more popular ways to extract the oils, but try to use them in rooms where your cat isn’t. 
  • Opt for a passive diffuser. There are active and passive diffusers. The active ones offer a more intense aroma, while the passive ones usually emit essential oils without a stimulus, resulting in a less intense aroma output. So they’re better for the sensitive nose of your pet. You’ll find many options on the market, including the ASAKUKI Premium Essential Oil Diffuser on Amazon.
  • Keep your diffuser out of your cat’s reach. You don’t want any unpleasant incidents involving essential oils and pets.
  • Always provide your cat with an easy exit from the area in case the smell is too strong.

What Essential Oils Are Safe to Diffuse Around Cats?

While you may think you should avoid essential oils around cats entirely, there are some safe essential oils for cats.


Cedarwood is great because it doesn’t have phenols, which contain alcohol and can be harmful to cats. Brands like the FLORONA Cedarwood Essential Oil on Amazon are excellent for use around your cat.


Lavender oil is amazing for relaxation. We like the Lavender French Pure Essential Oil on Amazon, but you need to be very considerate of your cat’s sensitivity when you use it.


Commonly found in tea, chamomile essential oils are great for promoting a sense of calm at home. Plus, you can use them for inflammations on your cat, and you can safely diffuse brands like Amazon’s SVA Organics Roman Chamomile Oil around the house. 

Here are a few more cat-friendly essential oils:

  • Bergamot
  • Rosemary
  • Rose
  • Frankincense
  • Jasmine
  • Cinnamon
  • Cypress

You have to remember that the cat’s nose is very sensitive, so always opt for less intense scents. That said, some essential oils can calm your pet, too. You can even use that as an effective way to introduce cats.

cat smelling a leaf

Which Essential Oils Are Not Safe for Cats?

Many essential oils are very toxic to pets when applied to the skin or used with diffusers. Also, it’s vital to be aware of the oil’s quality. Even though many have “natural” or “certified pure” labels, you should pay extra attention about what you expose your cat to. 

Your cat can’t metabolize everything the same way you can. Its liver doesn’t have the P450 cytochrome metabolic pathway, so it cannot metabolize certain substances, including essential oils. 

But what essential oils are toxic to cats? Here are some you should be aware of:

  • Citrus oil
  • Cinnamon oil
  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Clove oil
  • Pennyroyal oil
  • Peppermint oil
  • Oil of sweet birch
  • Tea tree oil
  • Wintergreen
  • Pine oils
  • Ylang ylang

While we all do our best to protect our cats, it’s important to know and be able to recognize the symptoms of oil poisoning:

  • Lack of Coordination — If your cat has been poisoned with essential oils, it may not walk properly, but that only happens in extreme cases. You may also notice a lack of energy or slow movements. 
  • Lower Core Body Temperature — Normal cat body temperature is approximately 101.5 degrees. A lower one could be due to tremors arising from essential oil poisoning. In serious cases, a cat can experience seizures. That’s why you should make sure your essential oils diffuser is safe for cats.
  • Issues With Eating or Digestion — If your pet’s throwing up and the vomit smells of the essential oil your cat was exposed to, you might be dealing with poisoning. In less extreme circumstances, your cat may have a sudden disinterest in food and a poor appetite. 
  • Skin Irritation — If you see any skin irritation, swelling, blistering, or redness in and around the mouth, that’s another sign of essential oil poisoning.

If you’re using essential oils and cats are running around the house, remember the side effects above. And if you notice any of them, you should know how to act immediately.

What to Do if Your Cat Gets Oil Poisoning

When you see any symptoms of essential oil poisoning, do the following:

  • Take Your Cat to the Vet — Veterinary care is vital for essential oil poisoning, especially as several other conditions start with similar symptoms. Typically, a vet will recommend analyzing your cat’s blood before deciding what to do. They could prescribe medication, for anti-vomiting, pain, or to protect your pet’s liver. 
  • Wash Your Cat — If your cat comes into direct skin contact with essential oils, it’s vital to remove any residual traces using a medicated anti-inflammatory shampoo for skin treatment that’s vet-recommended. 
  • Contact the Pet Poison Helpline — If you can’t reach a vet, the local pet poison hotline is available 24 hours a day.

As stressful as it might be, don’t attempt to induce vomiting since this may harm your cat. Many pet owners use activated charcoal to induce vomiting, but that’s a decision for your vet.

Are There Other Ways to Use Essential Oils Around Cats?

While knowing what essential oils are safe to diffuse around cats is crucial, you may wonder if there are any other methods to reap the benefits of essential oils. 

If you really want to ensure your pet gets some of the benefits of the essential oils, there are other ways to do this:

  • Sprays — Many essential oils sprays, like Wondercide from Amazon, are fantastic flea repellents and contain much lower doses of essential oils so your cat can tolerate them better. 
  • Shampoo — Cat shampoos can include a mild dose of essential oils. Brands like Earthbath Coat Brightening Shampoo on Amazon are safe, effective, and will make your cat smell like lavender oil.
  • Cat Treats — Cat treats with herbal substances are growing in popularity. For example, you can find many treats with CBD for cats or regular cat CBD oil. But if you want essential oils so your cat can feel calm, Amazon’s “I and love and you” Hearties contain all-natural ingredients that promote digestion and will keep your cat happy.


While some essential oils are safe for cats, it all depends on how you use them. 

Many essential oils are ok for cats and safe to diffuse around them, but you should still protect your cat from the intense aroma types. Also, if you want to reap the benefits of essential oils around your pet, you need to learn and be aware of any symptoms that may indicate poisoning.

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