They say that curiosity killed the cat, but new studies now show that certain essential oils may kill your cats too if you're not careful. Researchers have found that 2 types of components, phenols and monoterpene hydrocarbons, commonly found in essential oils can be fatally toxic to our feline friends in high doses. This is because unlike humans, cats' livers lack an enzyme called glucuronyl tranferase, and are unable to break down these toxic chemicals as a result.
Read on to find out how to use essential oils safely around cats, as well as to find out exactly which essential oils have been found to be the most harmful to cats.
1. Don't touch your cat after applying essential oils to your body.
Any residual oil that accumulates on your hands and skin can end up getting stuck to your cat's fur, which they'll end up ingesting when they decide to clean themselves. This is why it's important to thoroughly wash your hands after applying essential oils. You should also keep the skin that you applied the oils on covered up for a while, just in case your beloved cat decides to rub up against you.
2. Never diffuse toxic oils in your home.
If you diffuse oils into the air, then your cat will undoubtedly end up inhaling the oil, which could be very harmful to them in certain cases. If you really must use essential oils via inhalation, a safer way to do so is to add a few drops to a bowl of steaming hot water, cover the bowl and your head with a towel, and then breathe the vapor in. Make sure that your cat is in another room when doing this.
3. Don't apply toxic oils to anything your cat could rub or lick.
Using essential oils as cleaners will leave a residue on the surface, which could easily be ingested by cats who lick it or rub themselves against it. As an example, it's probably fine to clean your showerhead with essential oils, but not your kitchen counter.
4. Keep all oils where your cat can't get to them.
Since cats are such mischievous and curious creatures, it's very important to keep essential oils well out of their reach. Even if jars of oil are tightly sealed, there will probably be some residue on the outside which could still end up harming your cat. That's why it's best to store all of your essential oils in a closed drawer or cabinet that your cat will never be able to break into.
5. When possible, use higher dilutions.
If you want to minimize the risk that accidental exposure presents to your cat, then we'd recommend always using essential oils that are as diluted as possible. In this way, if your cat ends up accidentally ingesting or inhaling some toxic components, the damage done to them would be less likely to cause a toxic buildup.
6. Don't leave dishes out that have touched essential oils.
For anyone who loves to cook with essential oils, it is of the utmost importance to clean these dishes and put them away immediately after using them. This is because there are very few cats in the world that won't go and sniff or lick your dirty dishes when you're not around.
Essential Oils Which Are Toxic to Cats
Wondering what essential oils have been found to be toxic to cats? Below, you'll find the list that most researchers seem to agree on. However, just because an essential oil isn't listed here, it doesn't mean that it is safe to use, so you should stop using any essential oils immediately if ever in doubt.
Here's the list: