Are essential oils safe for your cat?

Cat Faeries gets about 30 emails a week asking if we carry essential oils, and if we don’t, they want to know why. We also hear from people who have essential oils confused with flower essences, which are what Cat Faeries specializes in and are two very different things. And these are great questions! One is a volatile plant oil, and the other is purely vibrational, the vibration of a plant or flower, not actual plant material.

In 1982 Auntie Cat Faerie got her first certification as an aromatherapist and believe me when I tell you, in 1982 NO ONE knew what on earth that was, the word actually scared them! Auntie Cat Faerie went on to get 4 more certifications during the 1980’s. (just a little obsessed are we?!) But by the early 1990’s the term aromatherapy was being misused and overused so she got out of that field not wanting to be associated with a modality that had corporations who make those toxic “air fresheners” but began to call them aromatherapy, or with people who had zero training or background who got involved in multi level marketing selling essential oils to friends and co-workers. Also, aromatherapy was never a good term for essential oil usage as the smell is only one part of the benefits of this healing modality – Essential Oil Therapy would have been better. Anyway, the oils penetrate skin, enter the blood stream, and can affect all vital organs, therefore on must be highly trained to recommend or administer them. And understand the species they wish to work with.

Sir Issac Newton our “feline editor at-large” wanted to give our readers the scoop on essential oils and their use for cats. Before you pounce on that story I’m going to tell you about a use for one essential oil, oregano oil, which will prove how effective the oils can be – as well as – how strong these volatile compounds are.

You’ve heard about “oil pulling” with coconut oil? If not, you would take a spoonful of coconut oil, and add ONE drop of oregano oil to it, put it in your mouth and swish for 15 to 20 minutes, first thing in the morning, before eating or drinking anything, to remove toxins and freshen the mouth. Yes, 15 or 20 minutes seems like an eternity to swish something in your mouth so to distract myself I feed the cats and check email – the time flies. When the time is up spit it out in the trash (not the sink) and rinse with water or use a dedicated toothbrush. My dentist is blown away by my progress because I had a history of gum disease which is 100% resolved from the swishing. I try to swish again before bed, after flossing, and interestingly the two oils always seem to find and dislodge a particle or two that I missed flossing! Now this is where essential oil therapy comes into play and its truly fascinating – the added oregano oil is so potent that it literally has kept me from accumulating any tartar. As you know tartar is so rock hard at the gum line or clinging to teeth needs to be chiseled off by a dentist. Well, if oil swishing with one drop of oregano oil has keep Auntie Cat Faerie tartar-free (truly, my mouth is a tartar producing factory) you can imagine what too much could do if ingested by a person and small animal like a cat. The best of the holistic veterinarians we know, like Cheryl Schwartz, says NO to essential oils for cats. Many cats have died or ended up in the Kitty ER from essential oils.

As a side note, our Catnip Meow Mist is a hydrosol which is the watery run off during the process of making essential oils. Catnip doesn’t yield much in the way of essential oil (don’t trust anyone who says that it does, it will be fake if they are selling it) but it makes a divine hydrosol and it’s perfectly safe for a cat, baby, or any being to come in contact with. Can this be said about other hydrosols? Maybe yes, maybe no – it would depend upon the plant used.


Newton’s Purrspective – Essential Oils – Should They be Used on Cats?

Essential oils are all the rage for people these days. Uses range from plain enjoyment of the fragrance to treatment of actual physical ailments. The oils can have therapeutic value, but many factors determine the quality of the extracted plant oils.

These include:

  • The plant itself and what part is used
  • Climate and cultivation methods
  • Timing and method of harvest
  • How the oil is produced and stored




Isaac Newton

How many people do the research to determine if the essential oils they purchase are high quality? Are they likely to do what the company claims? Do they contain impurities which could be harmful? To date, there is no regulation.

That said, I’m not surprised that the use of essential oils for cats remains highly controversial. One of the attractions of the oils for people is the scent. Cinnamon! Eucalyptus! Lavender! Cats’ noses are very sensitive (one of the reasons we prefer unscented cat litter) and we are unlikely to find enjoyment in such concentrated perfume.

Some people use the oils for perfume as well as therapy. A drop or two of lavender is said to be calming for people. However, it is unlikely to have the same effect on Kitty. Also, remember that anything you apply topically to a cat is likely to be licked off in minutes. Oils may be safe for humans to ingest, but cats have a different metabolism and sensitivities to chemical compounds.

Essential oils are highly concentrated. Some, such as the popular Tea Tree Oil, can cause serious skin irritation if not diluted. This, of course, is a danger in applying any oil directly to a cat’s skin. Also remember that oils are fat soluble. They cannot be simply rinsed off. And, once absorbed by the skin they can travel to any part of the body containing fat.

Most oils can be distributed into the air using a nebulizing diffuser. Although much less concentrated than direct inhalation the mist could still be an irritant to Kitty’s delicate nostrils. For safety’s sake some recommend using a diffuser only in a part of the house with no cat access.

The bottom line is I could find no evidence that essential oils should ever be used on cats. The potential hazards are far too great.

However, cats can still enjoy the benefits of plant compounds. Hydrosols come from steam distillation of plants used for aromatherapy. The result is a much less concentrated plant essence. Auntie Cat Faerie explained to me that this is the process used to produce Catnip Meow Mist. I love this for freshening up my Cat Faeries toys. I didn’t mind pieces of dried catnip all over the floor, but it triggers the need to vacuum in some people.

Flower essences are the safest product available for your cat. They are generally made from an infusion of plants and flowers picked at their peak. However, Cat Faeries is one of the few companies using a special process that is in harmony with the natural and healing spirit worlds.

Unlike oils, flower essences have no scent. Cat Faeries flower essences also lack alcohol, vinegar or anything else that would taste bad. They can be sprayed on furniture, added to food or water, and even applied directly to Kitty. The Flower Essence section lists more than a dozen scenarios and directs you to the appropriate product for your cat or cats. If you are unsure, send an email to Auntie Cat Faerie. She will be happy to answer your questions.
 
 
 
 

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