Essential Oils & Pets
Essential Oil Vet – Janet Roark, DVM
March 1, 2015
Cats: How to safely use Essential Oils with Cats
With cats… ultimately, you will hear many things from many people about cats and oils. Here’s my take: Cats lack an enzyme called glucuronyl transferase. This is important for the Cytochrome p450 liver metabolism pathway. This makes cats very susceptible to ALL kinds of toxicity, including plant, NSAIDS (like aspirin, ibuprofen and Tylenol), chocolate and caffeine (methylxanthines), lead, zinc, and many, many types of pesticides.
So which oils do you stay away from? Most medical grade oils are so pure that you can use them topically on cats sporadically in a highly diluted form (as if for infants). It’s not a good idea to use them topically or internally on your cat every single day (with the exception of helichrysum, myrrh, lavender and Frankincense).
*The oils to stay away from and use something different if you can are the oils that are high in phenols ketones as far as direct application (topical or internal) to your cat (basil, birch, cinnamon, clove, fennel, melaleuca, oregano, peppermint, thyme, rosemary, spearmint, and wintergreen.) They are also sensitive to d-limonene containing oils (bergamot, dill, grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange, and tangerine).*
Just like people, every individual animal is different and you should consult your veterinarian if you are concerned and get some blood work to ensure no underlying liver disease.
There are many ways to use essential oils with cats – my preference is water diffusion. You can also make a litter box powder with essential oils by using 1 cup of baking soda and 3-4 drops of an essential oil of your choice, stirring well and letting it sit overnight (to saturate the baking soda with the oils) and then sprinkling this on your cat’s litter (You do not have to use the full cup, just enough to cover the litter). You can also apply the oils topically (I recommend dilution for this – 1 drop in a tsp to a tbsp of carrier oil and using a drop of that mixture) – the easiest way to topically apply essential oils to cats is simply by petting along the spine. It is the best tolerated. You can also use the reflexology points or rub the tips of the ears, if your cat is more agreeable to these applications. The cat will ingest these oils via grooming when applied topically, which is why dilution is recommended. You can also apply essential oils to cats by giving it internally. Start with just a toothpick drop of the oil, and mixing it with wet food. Some cats are very picky eaters and will not eat their food if there is an oil in it, others don’t seem to mind it at all. Just observe your cat’s behavior and they will tell you what works best for them.
So the “Take Home” message is this: don’t give oils to cats topically or internally every day (with some exceptions), dilute them, only use medical-grade quality (and tested) oils, and when in doubt, feel free to ask!