Cat Corner

Are Essential Oils Harming Cats?

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Are essential oils harming cats?

Facebook. It’s an excellent place for all the gossip, but also to find advice and spread news. I recently saw this post and was shocked, not only by the poor suffering kitty but how little we knew about the harmful effects of essential oils. I am a cat lover, I also spent a lot of the time on the internet and yet I didn’t know this (and we should).

Edit Update: The original post was removed because sadly Ernie has passed away. A brief synopsis of events is seen below:

Sue’s original post talks about her 16 year old cat Ernie becoming increasingly ill after using a diffuser set that was purchased for Christmas. The Eucalyptus one, in particular, meant that after day 4 he started showing symptoms such as:

  • Lethargy
  • Excessive drooling
  • Being unstable on his feet

After a trip to the vets, they confirmed the poisoning and gave him vitamin boosters and antibiotics to help him metabolize the ingredients. Unfortunately it ended up being fatal and upon further research found that the following ingredients and essential oils were also toxic to cats and small animals:

  • Orange
  • Lemon
  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Frankincense
  • Tea Tree (Melaleuca)
  • Thyme
  • Peppermint
  • Cinnamon

They were also informed that scented candles that are treated with essential oils will burn in the same way and are harmful.

Are there scientific studies? Not that I could find. BUT

My cats have been vomiting recently since Christmas and I had booked an appointment at the vets. After reading this and realizing I got a big bunch of scented candles and new essential oils for my burner this year, I stopped using them. After a couple of days, my cats are fine. I can find no other contaminant or reason that they would have mysteriously become and subsequently stopped being sick and their diet has been unchanged throughout. This leads me to believe it is probably the cause.


My concern is how many people have unwittingly poisoned their own pets because they didn’t have this knowledge. At the very least, ongoing health issues and high vet bills, and at worst, unknown causes of death! Because of this, I have created a petition to be considered in parliament. If we reach 100,000 signatures they have to debate it and at the very least we can raise awareness! Please Please sign up here, even if you aren’t an immediate cat or small animal owner, if you know any fluff balls that could do with this knowledge then spreading awareness helps. Everything is appreciated:


In case you weren’t aware, there are actually a lot of poisonous substances that can upset cats that we have around the home and the International Cat Care website have an extensive list here. (some of them are surprising.)

What The Experts Say:

The veterinary department for UK based charity Cats Protection have stated:

The toxicology of essential oils is not well understood in animals, least of all cats. However, it is clear that cats do not possess the range of detoxification pathways that dogs or people have, and some essential oils are known to be toxic to cats through contact, ingestion and/or inhalation. The majority of essential oils are well absorbed through mucous membranes and many are well absorbed through the skin. Essential oils can cause mucous membrane and gastrointestinal irritation, central nervous system depression, and skin hypersensitivity and irritation.

There may also be psychological effects of these oils when inhaled even at low concentrations. If you think there is a risk that your cats may come into contact with any accidental spills, leaky bottles, residue on door handles, your hands or may lick your skin after the oils have been applied then we would recommend that these oils are used with caution and extra care is taken to make sure your cats are kept well away.

Signs/Symptoms of A Poisoned Cat

It’s always good to know what to look for, so here are some of the warning signs of poisoned cats. If your cat starts displaying any of these, visit the vet ASAP.

  • Lethargy (sleepiness)
  • Fitting
  • Shallow or abnormal breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive drinking or urination
  • Change in behaviour or disposition

If you think your cat could be reacting badly to essential oils, take them straight to the vets! Learn more about indoor cat care here or find out about outdoor cat care here.


Founder at The Mummy Toolbox

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