Cats are particularly sensitive to a group of oxygenated compounds called ketones, phenols, alpha pinene, some monoterpenes, and carvacol (a by-product of d-limolene which is found in all citrus fruits and in many tree oils) which their livers cannot break down.
Cats lack a liver enzyme that humans and dogs have. This enzyme is necessary to metabolize and eliminate some essential oil constituents. Therefore, Melaleuca and all citrus oils are toxic to cats.
Cats are also sensitive to high levels of phenols (found in Clove Bud, Oregano, Peppermint and Thyme) and ketones (found in White Fir, Wintergreen, Rosemary and Vetiver). Oils with high levels of these constituents may overwhelm the ability of the cat’s liver to properly metabolize and effectively eliminate them, which can result in toxic overload. Cypress and Roman Chamomile can also be problematic for cats.
Dilute, Dilute, Dilute!
Even more caution should be used for kittens. It’s suggested by the Dog Oiler website to only treat kittens 3 months or older. Additional dilution is also recommended: 1 drop of oil with 2 tbsp of Fractionated Coconut Oil.
Diffusing with Cats
For cats, the preferred method of essential oil application is diffusion, using just a couple drops of oil in a diffuser with 60 ml of water. This helps keep cats from being overexposed to the very potent oils and their powerful effects.
Top Oils to Use With Cats
- Juniper Berry
In all cases, start small, use the most pure oils, and observe your cat’s behavior while diffusing certain essential oils.