Essential Oils and Cats

cat and lavender
We love our pets.  They’re part of the family and we want them to be naturally healthy.   We try to take them to holistically inclined vets, but the bills can really take a chunk out of our bank accounts.
It is empowering to know that we can use essential oils on our pets too!  We are so thankful to have the tools that we need to help our pets at home.
Please note: if your animal has a serious medical condition you will want to seek the advice of a trained veterinarian.
cat and herbs


The debate about essential oils and cats:

There is a lot of debate out there about whether or not to use essential oils for cats.  It all boils down to the quality of the essential oil.  We recommend only using 100% pure therapeutic grade essential oils.

But besides the fact that therapeutic grade oils must be used there are other precautions that can be taken to assure that your feline can use the oils safely.

cat and spoon 

Why can’t we use certain oils on Cats?

Cats metabolize and excrete things very differently than the rest of the animal family.  Cat livers do not not have the enzymes to break down certain chemicals.  And when the liver (and the body) does not recognize a substance, it immediately stores it somewhere until it can figure out what to do with it!  This leads to toxicity, tumors, disease and extreme imbalances of the body.  by the way, this is the case for humans and animals alike, but cats are much more sensitive.

Most of the problems associated with essential oils whether they are for human or animal use stem from the fact that people use perfume (synthetic) quality oils in the same way that they use therapeutic grade oils. These are totally different and cause more harm than good! Particularly with cats!

What else is different about Cats?

Cats seem to have a disregard for strong odors and definitely have thin skin. So again, when you are diffusing oils in your home,remember your pets. Also make sure you use the oil correctly and with high dilution.

Cats are particularly sensitive to a group of oxygenated compounds called ketones, phenols, alpha pinene, some monoterpenes, and carvacrol (a byproduct of d-limonene which is found in all citrus fruits and in many tree oils) which their livers can not break down.

And just as with humans, each animal’s chemistry and blood type is different so the response will be different!  Experiment with you animal to see what works for them.

Examples of essential oils for Cats that should be used with caution (highly diluted) are shown below.

Examples of essential oils which contain Phenols – Wintergreen, Anise, Birch, Clove, Basil, Tarragon, Fennel, Oregano, Thyme, Mountain Savory, Peppermint, Tea Tree, Calamus, Cinnamon Bark, Citronella, Marjoram, Nutmeg, Eucalyptus citriodora, Parsley, Ylang Ylang. These all contain greater than 8% phenols.

Examples of Ketones – Western Red Cedar, Idaho Tansy, Marigold, Spearmint, Thuja, Hyssop, Davana, Sage, Dill, Yarrow, Peppermint. All these oils contain greater than 20% ketones.

Example of Oils containing D-Limonene – Grapefruit, Bitter Orange, Orange, Tangerine, Mandarin, Lemon, Celery Seed, Lime, Bergamot, Angelica, Dill, Neroli, Blue Tansy, Citronella and Nutmeg.

Examples of Oils containing Alpha-pinene – Cypress, Cistus, Pine, Douglas fir, Juniper, Myrtle, Rosemary Verbenon, Silver Fir, Angelica, Nutmeg, Eucalyptus, Dill, Spruce. These are all monoterpenes that have alpha-pinene concentrations greater than15%.

Use the following particularly infrequently with cats: Black Pepper, Cardamon, Carrot Seed, Celery Seed, Cinnamon Bark, Citronella, Clove, Galbanum, Ginger, Juniper, Melaleuca species (use with extreme caution and monitor cat), Palmarosa, Petitgrain and Western Red Cedar.

What Essential Oils for Cats can we definitely Use?

Here are the essential oils for cats that are very safe for cat use. Here is the list:

• Clary Sage Essential Oil

• Frankincense Essential Oil

• Geranium Essential Oil

• Helichrysum Essential Oil

• Lavender Essential Oil

• Roman Chamomile Essential Oil

• Rosemary Essential Oil

And many more!


How do I use Essential Oils for Cats?

Essential oils for cats should be highly diluted with a high grade pure vegetable oil such as Fractionated Coconut Oil.  Dilute essential oils for cats (and all other smaller animals) at least 50:1 (fifty drops of dilution oil to one drop of essential oil).

Place a drop of the diluted oil on the inside of the paw or directly on area of concern.   Place some in your hands and pet your cat gently ears to tail.

Diffusing oils is a great way to use essential oils for cats. Lastly, you could place a few drops in a sprayer with some water, shake it up and gently mist–but most cats usually don’t like this method of application.

Some suggested oils to use for various ailments:

Ear Health –  use warm fractionated coconut oil with lavender and clean the ear. Use it inside and outside of the ear. Dilute as described above.

Skin Health – bath the cat in lavender and roman chamomile. Remember the dilution requirements!

Calming – try a grounding blend (spruce, rosewood, blue tansy, and frankincense) for courage, (dilute 80-90%), a calming blend with lavender, sweet marjoram, roman chamomile, sandalwood, ylang ylang and vanilla bean.

These are just a few suggestions on how to use the oils. Remember to work with a holistic vet to help you make good decisions for your pet’s natural health.

*These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. 


70 thoughts on “Essential Oils and Cats

  1. Hi Susan,

    I am not sure about the diamotaceous earth, you may want to consult a holistic vet about that one. I personally steer clear of internal use with my cat and I would recommend you do the same. Cats have very sensitive livers and they process things differently than other mammals. When using essential oils on cats topically you want to make sure to dilute them heavily.

    Please keep me updated on what you find out about the diamotaceous earth.



  2. Hi Jessica,

    Cats are fine being around essential oils aromatically if they are pure. Essential oils absorb very quickly so you should not have to worry about the cat ingesting the oils by getting too close.

  3. I want to buy a diffuser and start using it. But I have four precious cat and I don’t want them to inhale the fumes if it is going to hurt them. I wanted to keep my house smelling cat free odor but rather have a stinky house than to kill my fur babies. What oils can I use? Thank you.

    1. Essential oils that are truly 100% pure, free from any synthetic chemical residues, are safe for diffusing in your home around your cats, especially because the oils are so diluted in the diffuser.

      1. When you diffuse essential oils you are diluting only a few drops into a larger amount of water and this is dispersed into a large room. This should be ok for your cats. If you put an oil on yourself, simply wait for t to absorb before petting your cats.

    2. My Siamese was born with a small growth on her bottom eyelid. It grew over the years and was removed surgically about five years ago, and has grown back. I was using a spirulina/dunliella/chlorella capsule for pets by a Russian naturopath, and it shrunk and nearly disappeared. I discontinued use (because it’s expensive and I thought it was resolved) and it has come back. Do you think helichrysm and frankincense would be good on the bottom of her paws? I put frankincense on my feet at night and put it in the dry diffuser by doTerra – should I mix it with some fractionated coconut oil and do all four paws every day?

  4. One drop of a citrus oil in a diffuser will be so diluted that it would be fine for a cat. What you want to avoid is using them topically, especially if undiluted.

  5. What would you recommend for a cat with ear problems?
    Ear down sometimes, shakes head, fluid bubbles fly out.
    Cleaning oil the vet gave us didn’t work.
    Your thoughts?

  6. I have a 14 year old cat that is hyperthyroid. I have heard so many different views about using/not using oils on cats. I welcome any thoughts and ideas on this. I was told to try myrrh. I’m a little uneasy about it. If I were to use it, how much and how do I apply?

    1. You can try Cedarwood and Lemongrass diluted in a spray bottle. Please keep me update with how this works for you. If you want a very high quality oil with standardized potency, free from harsh chemicals and other impurities, let me know 🙂

  7. As I am not a vet I don’t have advice on a protocol for such a complex diagnosis. Have you asked your homeopathic vet about what they suggest as far as essential oils go for your cat?

  8. I’ve never heard of such a reaction, however perhaps you should stop diffusing that particular oil for the time being to see if there are any changes. Try diffusing a different oil such as frankincense.

  9. I used diatomaceous earth for my shelter cat. Previously, she threw up most every day. Now she is never sick.

  10. Hope you kitty is doing well 🙂 When you use a diffuser, the oils are very diluted so you really wouldn’t have to worry.

  11. i have a 9 year old cat who has had two sarcoid tumors removed from his right hip area. Would diluted frankincense be the best do to use to keep it from growing back again?

  12. I want to start using lavender and vetiver on my feet at night but my cat tends to lick my feet. Will this combo hurt my cat. I know lavender is safe when diluted but I wouldn’t be diluting it and I don’t know if the vetiver is good for her at all.

  13. Some of the oils in the blend should not be used topically on cats. In a diffuser there are only a few drops diluted in water dispersed into the air.

  14. I am not a vet so I really can’t speak to what may be going on with your cat. However, the best advice I can give you is to make sure the cat does not hang out in your dad’s bedroom, especially now that you have increased the amount you are using. He may be sensitive to something you don’t even know has ended up in the blend you are using. I do hope he feels better soon 🙂

    I can’t speak to what may or may not end up in your brand’s finished essential oils. There is so much that goes into ensuring that an essential oil is pure, free from trace chemicals, bacteria, fungus, weeds, or even the wrong part of the plant. I do not use that brand because I trust another company’s integrity, quality, and purity more. I can teach you more. If you’re interested, fill out the contact form on the website.

  15. I am not a vet so I do encourage you to talk with your vet about such things. If they are not open to such discussion, find one that is more holistically minded.

    Definitely dilute with cats. You can mix them together. I would say much more than a tsp of carrier oil with one drop of each oil. Probably more like a couple of tablespoons. You can make it up ahead of time and store in a glass jar.

  16. It’s always best to use essential oils in a diffuser with cats, and you’re doing the right thing by having him checked out by vet 🙂

  17. The main thing is that you want to be very careful about not having them ingest the oils by licking them off their fur. Diffusion is best in most cases.

  18. The issue is that cats process things differently than any other mammal. Have the cat sniff the oils to see if it has any aversion to the oil.

  19. You could try diffusing lavender and peppermint in the space where your cat hangs out. If you want a recommendation for the oils I choose to use that are safe and pure, fill out the contact form on my website. I can also recommend oils for your husband 🙂

  20. I am not a vet so I do advise you go see a holistically minded veterinarian. A pure, high quality, frankincese essential oil diluted and applied topically is what I would use. But be careful about which brand you choose. If you want a recommendation, please fill out the contact form on this website. I do hope your cat is doing well 🙂

  21. Cat’s tend to have an aversion to being sprayed. You may want to consider using a diffuser. Try lavender and peppermint in the diffuser. If you want more info on that, please fill out the contact form on this website.

  22. That’st the brand that I use and I also swear by them. I am not sure who told you that the leaves make up 60% of their geranium oil. That company’s geranium oil is made from 100% geranium flowers.

  23. I just started using essential oils and I wasn’t aware they could harm cats . I accidentally got som melaleuca on my kitten and it was undiluted. It has been a few days and she seems fine, should I be concerned about future issues?

  24. Hi there – I have a cat experiencing misdirected aggression towards his once well-loved brother. I’m diffusing pheromones in one part of the house (vet recommendation) but I’d also like to try diffusing oils in the room where he sleeps. Looking for something very relaxing and calming and of course safe. Can you make a recommendation? THANK YOU!

  25. I have a very old male cat that has starting pooping outside of his liter box, thankfully still peeing in the box. Are there any essential oils you know of that a cat will find the fragrance offensive and keep him out of this area?

  26. My boyfriend thought it would be great to wipe his hands on one of my cats after rubbing my legs with pure therapeutic grade cypress oil. Should I be worried that she is now licking pure oil off? And how should I wash it? I don’t have any soap for cats.

  27. Thanks! I appreciate your information too. My “baby ” also has cancer so I have been researching oils that are safe .

  28. Our cat stayed with a friend and she used straight peppermint oil drops on the counter to try and keep the cat off. Said cat has walked through the oil and both absorbed and ingested it. She is vomitting, has had kittie runs and is very lethargic.
    Sadly it is a wait and see game to see if she pulls through.

  29. Hi, this is part 2 of my earlier question pertaining to diffusing essential oilsin a house where a cat lives. I’ve diffused the oils znd can see why they are called “hot oils”. They can stinv my eyes a little after the first 10 minutes of so, after 20 minutes I got a little nose bleed and a slight sore throat the next day. The reactions i was having impfoved a litle by the rrd time i diffused,erhaps ’cause the air outside was more humid today, but I would like to know if i can use a carrier oil with the plant Therapy germ fighter brand and have it still retakn its effectiveness? The carrier oil might make it more gdntle for me to handle. Please offer me guidance with this. I also need a spray blend to use on my belongings before i store thdm away. Thanks!

    1. Hi Claudia,

      I am not familiar with plant therapy germ fighter brand. Many essential oils on the market can contain hidden toxic chemicals or even weeds that may have been harvested with the plant. Essential oils that are pure should not be causing nose bleeds and sore throats. If you want me to recommend a good, safe, brand I can do so. Please email me at if you’re interested in learning more.

  30. My neighbor has an 18 year old female cat. She is suffering from up and down sugar levels, from being diabetic to not. Are there any oils that could help support this up and down problem? TIA

  31. My cat was just diagnosed with kidney disease and I have ordered Helichrysum Essential Oil to use with V6 Oil. Is that going to be ok? How should I use it, beside a 50/1 ratio? I am lost!?!?!

    1. Hi Rosia,

      I am not a vet and I highly recommend finding a vet who is holistically minded and up on all the latest research on natural therapies. I have not heard about helichrysum for use with kidney disease. I am also not familiar with V6 oil. You may want to try Juniper Berry with Fractionated Coconut Oil. What brand are you using?

  32. I read every word on this site- and have to congratulate you on making some of this easier to grasp- I have severe breathing problems and find that peppermint oil helps me considerably. I’ve read ten sites and each of them says that peppermint oil is dangerous for cats- I love it and want to diffuse it in a small apartment. How safe would that be for my cat- and thanks again.


    1. When you are diffusing an essential oil it is highly diluted in the water in the diffuser. It is safe to use aromatically. You want to prevent topical or internal use of peppermint with cats.

  33. My cat has just undergone a series of tests and she is 100% in the normal range of everything. She has a slow metabolic rate and is being put on a restrictive diet to prevent diabetes … any suggestions on which oils would be good to diffuse for her?

  34. Great website! Very informative! I have been reading about oils and have come across to not use cinnamon and peppermint around cats. Would it be safe to defuse those oils or blends that contain those oils? I use oils have a 500mL diffuser so how many drops would get the scent out but safe for my kitty? She doesn’t seem to have a problem when I diffuse four drops of whisper. Thank you!

  35. Hi Laurel, I came to your website to learn about cats and oils, I use doTerra Essential Oils. one of my cats has been in the vet for a week as his bladder filled up and he could not empty it due to obstructions of internal debris at the end of his penis. They did not find crystals – and have him on many meds to help, however he’s not out of the woods yet. Is there an essential oil that you think could help him as they say his penis end is spasming and will need a very expensive operation, he’s cost us nearly $2,000 so far. Any ideas Laurel. Thank you kindly. Victoria Allison

  36. I have a 500 ml cold mist diffuser. The directions state to use 5 drops of EO. Most of the oils I have are NOW brand. I cannot smell any Aroma with only 5 drops. I have tried 10-15. Is that still safe to diffuse around my cat? I would like to diffuse peppermint, DoTerra Breathe, Eucalyptus & citrus oils. I also have the Plant Therapy Germ Fighter oil & it is the only one I’ve really been able to smell when diffusing on my bedside table – I think because it contains cinnamon bark.

  37. Does this mean that I should not even diffuse essential oil blends that contain tea tree or citrus in my home around my cat? I notice that my cat leaves the room when I have my diffuser going

  38. I just learned today that some essential oils are harmful to cats. I’ve now read several blog articles and visited some websites on this subject and, on my search, was led to your site and this post.

    In the first site I found, reading there it sounded like my cats being around a number of the oils, diffusing them in the same room with the animals, maybe even using them diluted in carrier oil on myself and the cats being in the same room, would/could lead to liver illness.

    I am in no way trying to use the oils on my babies.

    One sweet nearly 15 y.o. kitty girl, in particular, sleeps in my bedroom and the door is closed. In our room, I have been diffusing with a small, battery operated, lightly blowing of air diffuser on the overnights. The oil used on most overnights has been a blend promoting peaceful sleep which, it turns out, includes several of the oils on the no-no list I saw at another site ( With this diffuser, the oil drops go onto a little pad that is then put in the little machine, so there is no dilution. Some nights I have used peppermint in it also, and that also on the no-no list I’ve learned. (I had no idea this might be harmful for our precious babies to be around.)

    What you shared sounds like perhaps using a diffuser that uses water and thereby dilutes the drops may be okay. Right now I am very scared and concerned I may have hurt my kitty girls unintentionally. I’ve not yet used essential oils in any way but with diffusing (light air stream and also with the cool mist in the kitchen) though my plans were to move to cleaning with some of the oils, etc. Now I am afraid to do anything with the oils.

    I purchased 100% pure theraputic oils and I have definitely noticed them helping me and I guess I can continue to use them when I am not at home. It isn’t worth it though to put our kitties at risk.

    Can you provide any clarity on this?

    I thank you sincerely.

    Alice B.

  39. What do I do if I think my 1 1/2 year old cat may have been in contact over the course of a few nights with Breathe being diffused in my sick daughter’s room? After a few days of being around it, he has been throwing up and hasn’t eaten for 2-3 days. Is this a possible connection? We aren’t diffusing it anymore (stopped 2 nights ago), but can he be sick because of this? Any recommendations on how to reverse these effects?

  40. Not sure if this thread is still active. I have a cat that has been diagnosed with IBD and is allergic to foods. throws up after every meal. is there an oil to calm her belly? The IBD is under control but I need to get her used to eating again.

  41. Hi! Will diluted eucalyptus oil harm my cat? I sprayed some on my couch to deter peeing, and now I’m worried!


  42. Hi. What oils are in your list of ‘many more’ (safe for use with cats)? I have no plans to use any essential oil ON my cat, I am just interested in continuing to use them around him. What do you think of Patchouli, Muhuhu, Myrrh, and Peru Balsam? I have noticed in one of my books that lists the chemical components of several oils that Myrrh and Patchouli are the only oils that do not have one or more of the following: Alpha Pinene, Linalool, Limonene, Pinene, and Citronellal. Alpha Pinene is listed as the first component in Frankincense for instance. Even Helichrysum has Pinene and Limonene. I use Frankincense constantly. My cat is indoor only, 800 sq ft home, and like many other people above I am worried about diffusing both “safe” and “unsafe” oils. I see that you say this is safe because dilution in water is so high. I also use personal blends that contain Ylang Ylang and Grapefruit, of course always trying to avoid contact with his fur especially directly after application. I mist my cushions with Geranium, Lemongrass, and Lavender (in water) and he often has to walk across these for window access. These seem to be safe on your list, but are on many others as some of the worst. I imagine all of this is redundant after all of your answers above, I think I just need justification? I use Eden’s Garden.

  43. Hi, I’m in the process of making my own cleaning products. All purpose cleaner, laundry soap, air freshener, etc. I’m worried about what essential oils I can use in them. I have 1 small cat and 2 small dogs.

  44. Hi Laurel, I find your site very, very helpful. May I suggest that for each reply, you reference the person’s name? I sometimes can’t tell which question asked is linked to the answer you give. Thanks a million! And my question is if Sandalwood is ok to diffuse around a 15 year old male cat with hypothyroid?

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