It’s been one of the most popular trends in recent years. Essential oils and oil diffusers. I thought about bringing one into our home. I’m glad I did my research, as I always do with any product that I’m going to bring into the house. I was SHOCKED by my findings on something that most people might not give a second thought.
First Things First-What Is An Essential Oil?
Essential oils are compounds that are extracted from a plant. It is thought they capture the “essence” of the plant. After you purchase them many times you will mix it with a carrier oil (coconut oil is one example) to carry them to their destination (your skin).
The Most Important Question-Are They Safe For Cats?
Unfortunately, it’s not a strict yes or no. One thing is pretty clear. Full strength essential oils will be dangerous to your cat (or dog). The science behind it is the oil can get absorbed orally and through the skin very quickly. The next step is it gets metabolized in the liver. The issue is, cats do not have an essential enzyme in their liver to eliminate the toxin from essential oils. The Pet Poison Helpline has a great article that goes more in depth about the science behind what happens and how you can tell if your cat got into the essential oils. I’ll introduce some symptoms of exposure next.
How Do I Know If My Cat Got Into My Essential Oils?
I’m not sure about you, but I can tell if my cat isn’t acting “right”. I wanted to share some signs to look for if your kitty was exposed to the oils. This information is also contained on the Pet Poison Helpline website.
- Being unsteady on their feet
- Low body temperature
- Vomiting (if they ingested the oil)
- Respiratory Distress
If you think your cat may have ingested some essential oils contact your vet ASAP or you can call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline . Their number is 1-888-426-4435. (You may be charged a consultation fee, depending on the situation).
What Are Some Oils I Should Be Concerned About?
This is not a comprehensive list (there are others on many different websites), but here are 10 oils that are known to cause issues.
There are some articles about oils that could be safe to use on cats, but for the scope of this article, I’m focusing on the unsafe oils.
I Don’t Put Oil On My Cat And I Use A Diffuser- Will That Be OK?
In looking through many articles and the main thoughts are that as long as the oil doesn’t get on your cat or ingested your cat “should” be OK. However, cats sense of smell is approximately 15 times stronger than humans. So even if the smell isn’t that strong for you, remember it’s going to be much stronger for your cat.
You should also be aware there are also different kinds of diffusers. They are passive and active diffusers.
There are a few different kinds of passive diffusers.
One type is diffusers with a candle to heat the oil and release the smell into the room (like what you see to your left).
Another option is reed diffusers. The oil is in a bottle and you insert the reeds in the oil. The oil travels up the reeds and evaporates into the air sending the scent into the area.
You can also use wearable diffusers. It could be a necklace or bracelet that has an area where you can put the oil on felt or a bead so you can have the smell near you all the time.
Active diffusers actually send droplets of the oil into the air. One example is ultrasonic, it uses steam and vibrations to send droplets of oil into the air. There are also nebulizing diffusers produce a mist but they don’t use water as a carrier it is the straight oil.
The active diffusers would be more of a concern because it is emitting actual oil into the air. If your kitty is in the same room there is a chance that the oil could land on their fur or get on their paws from the oil being released into the air. At that point, they could ingest it and display some signs of exposure that I mentioned above.
From what I’ve researched, experts say that if you use your diffuser in a different room from your pet or are using a passive diffuser the chances of your kitty having any issues are not as high. However, if your kitty already has some respiratory issues even the passive diffuser could cause problems. Keep a close eye on your cat if you have a passive diffuser. If you notice any sort of respiratory issue (trouble breathing, coughing) move your kitty into fresh air and move the diffuser to a different area.
Personally, I would rather not take a chance of potentially putting my cats in any danger. To me, having a pleasant smelling room isn’t as important as enjoying (and keeping safe) what is in the room (like the 3 boys to the right of this article).
Have you used essential oils in your home with kitties? I would love to hear about any experiences you might have had. Leave a comment below.