Dangers of Essential Oils: Cats

Essential oils are known for their calming aromas, and many of us regularly use them around our homes as plug-in diffusers, potpourri, candles, or sprays. What a lot of people don’t realize is they don’t smell the same to your cat as they do to you, and they can pose a toxic threat to our pets. Here’s what you should know.

What to Avoid
Cats are far more sensitive to fragrances than humans. What may seem like a harmless aroma to you might be overwhelming for your cat. This is especially true if the fragrance is present in a small space or if it continues for an extended period of time. Keep this list of toxic oils away from your cat’s nose and out of their reach.

  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus
  • Clove
  • Eucalyptus
  • Pennyroyal
  • Peppermint
  • Pine
  • Sweet Birch
  • Tea Tree
  • Wintergreen
  • Ylang Ylang

If your cat may have been exposed to essential oils (via inhalation, ingestion, or contact with skin), they could have one of several reactions. Please watch for these warning signs:

  • Panting, coughing, or wheezing
  • Watery eyes and/or nose
  • Drooling or trouble breathing
  • Nausea/vomiting


What to Do
If an essential oil is inhaled, immediately get your cat into fresh air. This can often alleviate symptoms quickly. If oil makes contact on skin or fur, wash with hand-safe dish soap. Watch for symptoms once the affected area is clean. Call your veterinarian immediately if the oil was ingested or call us at 415-554-3030. Do not induce vomiting as this can potentially further obstruct your cat’s airway.

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