3 March 2023 / Laura Garvin Gomez
Is Peppermint Oil Safe for Cats?
Peppermint oil can work wonders on humans, but with its strong and minty aroma, how do cats react to its use around the home?
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In our world, peppermint is reminiscent of Christmas candy canes and refreshing summer breezes.
Peppermint essential oil can work wonders for humans - from clearing congestion and helping with hair growth to boosting our energy levels and relieving discomfort.
So, if it works so great on us, how would peppermint oil and cats get along? If you have a furry friend in your home, you'll likely already know how different they can react to things we wouldn't even think twice about.
While something may seem endlessly effective for our health, it's important to keep the wellness of your kitty at the forefront too. We're detailing the effects of peppermint oil on cats and whether or not it's safe for you to use at home.
Why do some cat owners use aromatherapy?
It's not an uncommon theory to assume that everything good for you will also be good for your cat.
Some pet parents use essential oils to help with their cat's digestive systems as well as to tackle skin conditions like extreme shedding or hair balls.
Peppermint oil in particular has gained traction for its ability to remove fleas, thanks to its naturally powerful properties as a pesticide.
Cats, however, love to lick their fur as an act of self-grooming, so anything you place near your cat should always be safe enough for them to (potentially) consume.
Is peppermint oil safe for cats?
The short answer is, peppermint oil is sadly not safe for cats.
Internal consumption of peppermint oil is considered toxic, and can lead to numerous health issues including, but not limited to:
- Liver damage
- Breathing difficulties
- Wobbliness or seizures
- Digestive issues such as vomiting and diarrhoea
Eating essential oils is not even recommended for humans due to the potential damage their potency can cause, so placing them anywhere where your cat could ingest them will unsurprisingly cause them to fall ill.
If you do see any of these symptoms in your cat, particularly after exposure to peppermint oil or other hazardous essential oils, call your vet immediately.
Is diluted peppermint oil safe for cats?
Even diluted peppermint oil - blended with a carrier oil, water, or another non-hazardous base - can cause issues for your cat if ingested.
Oil and water also don't mix. So, even if you were to combine water and a bit of peppermint oil for your cat, chances are the effects will be exactly the same as if you hadn't diluted it at all.
Carrier oils aren't a sure-fire solution to the problem either, as these can lead to upset tummies if ingested too.
The primary consensus among vets is that topical application is simply not worth the risk. If you find your cat is suffering from fleas, or other ailments that may constitute a home remedy, always consult with your vet to ensure your methods are safe for use.
Can I still use peppermint oil in a diffuser?
While inhalation isn't quite as unsafe as ingestion, there's still a high risk your cat could be affected by the aromas. If you've ever tried to diffuse peppermint oil around your cat, chances are you've seen them run the other way at quite a rapid speed.
Cats, like dogs, have very strong olfactory receptors that can pick up scents with up to 14 times the strength of our own noses. Since peppermint is a particularly powerful essential oil, even the slightest whiff can overrun your kitty's senses and make them incredibly uncomfortable.
Cats are also very sensitive to the phenols contained within essential oils, and these are the primary culprits behind their toxicity when ingested.
If you do try and diffuse the oil around your home, it's likely your cat will start to lick their fur as a way to try and remove the aroma from their bodies.
Since your diffuser works by spreading little particles of oil into the air, these can catch onto your cat's body and cause toxic effects once they do try to groom themselves.
They can also potentially absorb themselves into your kitty's blood stream and pose just as big a risk as they would when ingested.
In short, it's best to avoid any kind of use of peppermint oil if you want to ensure the safety of your furry friend.
What other essential oils are considered unsafe for cats?
Use of essential oils at all around your pet should be approached with great caution, as even the "safe" ones could pose risks depending on your pet's personal sensitivities.
That being said, there are some oils that should never be used around your cat. These include:
- Pine needle oil (or any other form of pine oil)
- Lavender oil
- Clove oil
- Citrus oils - like bergamot and lemon
- Eucalyptus oil
- Tea tree oil
- Wintergreen oil
- Thyme oil
- Oregano oil
- Cinnamon oil
- Ylang ylang oil
Learn more about what essential oils are safe for cats.
If you feel like you absolutely require the use of any of these oils around your home, be sure to speak with your vet about the safest practice for avoiding any contact with your cat.
Some sources will recommend opening your windows, closing your doors, and ensuring your cat is in another room before using any potentially hazardous oils, but even this should be appropriately verified by your vet.
So, peppermint oil is sadly a big no-no for cat parents. While we understand this might be annoying, creating the proper environment for your furry friends is something we all strive for - even if it means sacrificing the aromas of candy canes to do so.
This doesn't mean that all essential oils should be banned from your home. There are some scents that may be okay for your pet in particular. But the okay use of one or two oils shouldn't spark experimentation at will with any you like the look or smell of.
Be sure to talk to your vet before deciding to diffuse an essential oil around your home, and always avoid topical application on your pets to minimise the risk of toxic ingestion.