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Are Essential Oils Safe for Cats?

Are Essential Oils Safe for Cats?

Are Essential Oils Safe for Cats?

One of the most controversial topics concerning cats – Essential Oils.

It is a tragic misconception that essential oils are bad for cats…or is it? In this blog we look at the ‘for’ and ‘against’ of essential oils and cats.

Sad Times.

It’s heart breaking to see that when I have googled ‘Are essential oils safe for cats?’ the top 5 responses all state that essential oils are toxic to cats. The references include the Pet Poison helpline, Cats Protection, PDSA and Hills (well let’s be honest, we can’t take ANYTHING Hills says as truth – after all they promote and encourage dry food for obligate carnivores, but let’s not open that can of worms here!)

In fact, of the 10 results on page 1 of Google all of the first 9 state that essential oils should be avoided and are toxic to cats. Thankfully the last resource stated that a few oils were safe for pets. There is reason in the world!

Where has this urban myth come from, that essential oils are toxic for cats?

Let me share with you a few examples:

  • A cat that had fleas, was shaved and covered head to paw in tea tree essential oil. The cat died.
  • A cat being consistently shut in a bedroom overnight with a diffuser on. The cat died.
  • A cat having peppermint oil rubbed onto its ears and paws. The cat died.
  • A cat having lavender applied onto it topically when being groomed to ‘calm it down’. The cat died.
  • A cat being exposed to essential oil based cleaning products on the floor. The cat died.

These are tragic stories. To be honest as a cat mum and avid cat lover, to hear of anyone losing their cat is heart breaking for me as I’m sure you can agree.

So when we hear of stories like these, of course it is easy to make the connection that essential oils have been used with cats therefore they are dangerous.

But this isn’t the whole story.

It’s what you do with it that counts.

The stories above are tragic. What do they all have in common? The essential oils were MISUSED.

The reason I have that in capital letters is not to be shouty but to emphasise the point.

Essential oils are toxic to cats when they are used incorrectly.

If I was to take a codeine tablet daily and I didn’t need it, it would have serious implications on my health. If I was to take a supplement I didn’t need, it could damage my health.

You get where I am going with this? Essential oils are an extremely powerful healing tool – when used appropriately. Applying essential oils topically or having them regularly diffusing in the home can cause liver damage to the cat, therefore proving to be toxic. However this is only one side of the story.

Yes, cats do lack an enzyme called glucuronyl tranferase which means their process of detoxification is slower to that of humans or dogs, but they can process toxins. They are simply more sensitive, and it takes longer to do so. That’s why it doesn’t take much of an essential oil being misused to cause an issue. Essential oils are highly concentrated, cats are highly sensitive – it’s a perfect storm when combined incorrectly.

How can you use essential oils safely with cats?

Give them a choice. It’s really that simple.

I am a huge advocate and educator of self-selection.  I’ve trained in it, I regularly use it with my own cats, and I have been using it with clients and having great success for years.  It is the most amazing sight to behold when you observe it.

I talk a lot about herbs and cats because they are easy to use and there is minimal chance of getting it wrong. I do also use essential oils with my own cats and with clients, but there is a little more you need to know when using the two together.

What you need to know about essential oils.


  • Ensure you use a reputable source for your oils. Make sure they are as natural and high in quality as possible.
  • Put a single drop of an oil onto a small piece of fabric (such as a cut up, cotton face cloth) and leave on the floor for your cat to choose and work with as/when needed.
  • Offer the cat a bottle of an essential oils with the lid on – for some cats this is all they need.
  • Dilute the oil in a carrier substance if needed.
  • Give your cat a choice – put 2-3 closed bottles on the floor and let your cat show you which one they want to work with.


  • Never leave your cat unattended with an open bottle of essential oil
  • Never apply topically to your cat
  • Never add to food
  • Don’t diffuse if you don’t need to
  • Don’t ever force your cat to work with an essential oil

Essential oils can help your cat with physical, mental, emotional and spiritual issues. When used correctly they are a wonderful complementary treatment to promote balance and wellbeing for your cat.

They are a powerful healing tool and because they are highly concentrated, a little goes a long way!

I’ve used them to help Pickle with her Arthritis and Leo with his emotional blockages. I’ve even used them to support Max when he had worms!

If you’d like to learn more about using essential oils with cats why not take a look at my book:

The Aromatic Cat – How to use herbs, hydrosols and essential oils for your cats’ wellbeing.

You can purchase a signed copy here

In the book I share with you:

  • How you can use the oils safely
  • Signs from your cat they are working with an oil
  • Storage, dilution and application (not topically!)
  • Oils for behavioural, physical and emotional issues
  • Tables for reference – which oil for which issue
  • 40 botanical profiles
  • Illustrations to show how to offer the oils
  • And so much more!

Or come and join me for my upcoming workshop:

Essential Oils for Cats: 22nd June 2022. 7:30 – 9pm BST. Live on Zoom. Click the image above to see all the workshop details. 

In summary, essential oils are a wonderful tool to use with cats. Once you know the basics about how to keep your cat safe when using them the application of them is unlimited. From arthritis to anxiety, digestion upset to depression. Essential oils can be used with cats.

With love,

Julie-Anne, Leo and Max xx

To note: If you are worried or uncomfortable using essential oils with your cat, seek the help and support of a qualified self-selection practitioner like me!


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