Lavender oil works great for humans, sporting benefits from sounder sleep to relief from pain, but is lavender oil safe for cats?
Any time we introduce a new essential oil into our homes, we should always think about how it could affect those we love. This is especially true for pets, and cats in particular are known to have a rather stubborn relationship with new scents.
Lavender oil is one of the most popular essential oils in the aromatherapy world, and it's clear to see why with its long list of impactful benefits. So, as a lover of wellness, knowing how lavender affects our feline friends is key to figuring out the best, and the safest, self-care routine.
We'll be detailing all you need to know about what lavender oil is and how it can affect your cat's health.
What is lavender essential oil?
Lavender essential oil comes in many forms commercially, with the most popular variety being Lavandula Angustifolia, also known as "true lavender".
True lavender has common origins in France, Bulgaria, and England, and features a distinct floral aroma with an underlying freshness.
All types can be used to target benefits like sleep, stress relief, treatment from infections, and hair growth among other uses.
Is lavender essential oil safe for cats?
Unfortunately, lavender oil is not safe for cats. In fact, it can be very toxic for their health.
As is the case with most animals, cats are more sensitive than humans when it comes to inhaling aromas and processing them correctly.
Lavender oil in particular contains two constituents, linalool and linalyl acetate, that cat livers cannot process. This makes them extremely poisonous when consumed (whether accidentally or otherwise).
What are the signs of essential oil toxicity in cats?
If your cat accidentally eats lavender, either the plant or the essential oil, this should be considered a medical emergency. Take your cat to the nearest emergency vet immediately for treatment.
Signs of toxicity from lavender and other essential oils include:
- Loss of appetite
- Vomiting and diarrhoea
- Liver failure
- Difficulty breathing
- Muscle tremors
Medical treatment is advised no matter how large the consumption of lavender oil is, as some cats may be more sensitive than others to these toxic effects.
Some symptoms may also take a while to appear, so potential effects shouldn't be ignored even if your cat appears perfectly fine.
Are cats allergic to lavender?
Strictly speaking, cats aren't allergic to lavender in the traditional sense, but it's still extremely toxic.
If your cat ingests lavender, it will usually cause gastrointestinal upset due to the body's inability to break down the key constituents.
To avoid this, it's best to keep any lavender plants or lavender oils out of sight and out of reach. Better still, avoid having them at all. Cats are natural explorers, which means their chances of locating even hard-to-reach oils are relatively higher than with other pets.
Is lavender oil diffuser safe for cats?
One of the most common uses for essential oils is adding them to an electric diffuser. Electric diffusers work by spreading the essential oil into the air using a fine mist.
While it's not necessarily unsafe to diffuse lavender oil around your cat, there's still a good chance they may accidentally ingest it.
That's because your diffuser produces little droplets of oil every time it operates, leading to the possibility of small quantities becoming trapped in your cat's fur or on their food and toys.
If you do choose to diffuse lavender oil in your home, always consult with a vet before doing so. There are also some steps you can follow to minimise the safety risk throughout the diffusion process.
How to safely diffuse lavender oil around your cat
It's important to remember that these steps will not automatically make lavender oil safe for your cat. Always consult with a vet before diffusing any essential oil in your home.
If your vet is happy with the use of lavender oil, here are some key points to keep in mind:
- Make sure your diffuser is out of reach. Don't leave it in any space where your cat is known to climb. Better still, leave it in another room entirely.
- Make sure your diffuser is away from any food areas or resting places where your cat is known to spend their time.
- Open up all surrounding windows and doors to provide good ventilation for your diffuser space. This will also provide a good escape route for your cat if you find they don't get on well with the scent.
- Only add a couple of drops of oil to your diffuser at a time and leave your diffuser going for a maximum of 10 minutes. Longer intervals can cause a higher risk of accidental internal exposure.
When diffused safely, lavender oil may produce a similar effect in cats as it does in humans, providing them with a sounder temperament and reduced anxiety overall.
Is diluted lavender safe for cats?
If your vet does give you the all-clear to use lavender oil in your home, always make sure it's diluted in some way.
That being said, no kind of lavender oil - diluted or otherwise - will be safe for topical application on your cat. It also goes without saying that even diluted lavender oil must not be ingested by your cat.
Use in a diffuser or bath is the safest way to avoid accidental ingestion, but there are other precautions that you can also keep a note of for better peace of mind:
- Always wash your hands after handling any essential oil, including "safe" essential oils.
- Don't clean your home with lavender oil or any other essential oil, unless approved by your vet.
- Store all your oils out of sight and reach at all times.
Which essential oils are safe for cats?
Sadly, there are no essential oils out there that are 100% safe for cats. Any essential oil that you're thinking of using should be double-checked with your vet to ensure its suitability in your home.
Some oils that are known to be safer for cats include:
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use essential oils around my kitten?
Essential oils should never be used around young animals, including puppies and kittens.
How much lavender is toxic to cats?
There is no established toxicity dose for lavender oil on cats, but any exposure to the oil should be monitored. Always go to your vet immediately if your cat accidentally ingests lavender oil.
While the semantics around whether or not lavender oil is safe for your cat may seem tedious and uncertain, it's worth taking the proper steps to ensure their constant well-being.
Make sure to visit your vet and ask them any questions you may have about essential oil use. They'll be able to provide the right answers for the safety of your individual pet.