Skip to Content

Can You Use Essential Oils On Cats?

Can You Use Essential Oils On Cats? Essential Oil Benefits

By now, you know how much I love essential oils and how beneficial essential oils are for you, your family and friends. Essential oils have been used in a myriad of ways for various ailments, be it for skin problems, health issues, stress, pain, and much more or simply to make you feel good. As much as essential oils are beneficial for humans and dogs, they can be overwhelming for cats. Cats need to be dealt with caution!

So, why is there is a lot of fuss around the subject of using essential oils on cats? I have successfully used hydrosols, herbal and essential oils on dogs and helped them with problems of lifestyle to become healthier and happier, without any harmful side effects. However with cats, it is a whole new game and I would not recommend that you use essential oils on cats. Why not? Read on…

Why Not Use Essential Oils On Cats?

In general, essential oils are absorbed into the body of the pet by means of inhalation or direct contact with the skin, i.e. topical application. Small amounts of essential oils are potent enough to have a significant biological impact on all systems of the body of the animal.

However, cats metabolize substances very differently than the rest of the animal family. The main reason for this is that the liver of the cat does not contain an enzyme (glucuronyl transferase to be precise) to break down some compounds as effectively as humans or other animals. Therefore, when the cat’s liver cannot process those compounds, it tends to store it and this can lead to toxicity.

For cats, this process takes place over a period of time and it can be slow and lead to illnesses along the way or worse, it can be very quick and prove fatal. The point is – be very careful and avoid using essential oils on cats.

Can You Use Essential Oils On Cats? Essential Oil Benefits

What Should You Do Instead?

Essential oils, misapplied, can kill cats. As noted above, cats lack an important detoxification mechanism which is present in most mammals. Are there any safe options with cats you’d ask? Luckily, there is and a safer option that I recommend is to use hydrosols.

Cats seem to enjoy hydrosols which are also known as hydrolats / steam distillates and are basically the waters drawn out of the aromatherapy distillation process. Hydrosols have strong anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties due to high levels of carboxylic acids. They are soothing and best of all, they are rather inexpensive.

Can You Use Essential Oils On Cats? Essential Oil Benefits

How To Use Hydrosols On Your Cat?

Well, to start off, don’t simply spray your cat with hydrosol. Let her smell the hydrosol first and watch for any signs of resistance or let your cat decide whether she likes the hydrosol or not. If she appears to like the smell, you can then apply a small amount of hydrosol to your hands and rub it on her coat. Please only use a small amount as cats tend to lick their coats.

One of the most useful hydrosol is witch hazel water. Further, you can mix and match various hydrosols and use them on cats for the treatments noted below as follows:

  • Skin issues and healing (chamomile hydrosol)
  • Fleas (lavender hydrosol)
  • Scenting or freshening (geranium hydrosol)
  • Calming (neroli or lavender hydrosol)
  • Burns (lavender hydrosol)
  • Rashes or irritation (rose hydrosol)

How To Store Hydrosols And Where Can You Buy Them?

Hydrosols are normally kept refrigerated. Another option is to keep the hydrosols in tightly closed bottles, away from heat and direct sunlight.

When buying hydrosols, always get them from your preferred supplier of essential oils if possible, i.e. a company which deals in therapeutic grade essential oils for aromatherapy purposes. Most of them will also carry a range of excellent quality hydrosols. And be sure to get hydrosols or hydrolats and not the synthetic versions such as rose water.

The Bottom Line

Don’t we all love our feline buddies! So, it is up to us, pet owners, to be responsible and be knowledgeable about what is good and what can be dangerous for our cats!

Rating: 5


Tuesday 7th of November 2017

Question from KTO:

Is there any essential oil that can be rubbed into the skin at the base of the back of a cat's neck that could help with nerve pain in her paws? She has trouble putting her little paws on the floor because of nerve pain.

Thank you so much.

Olivia's Response:

I would avoid using essential oils on cats as it can be fatal, see post below on alternatives you can use:

Pamela Caldwell

Friday 7th of July 2017

Thank you for sending me this link!!! I recently purchased this natural flea and tick product for my dogs and have not tried it yet on the dogs, much less the cats. They are all on Revolution and its effect seems to be diminishing. This natural product says it is safe for dogs puppies cats and kittens. It says it is formulated by a veterinarian and it is 4% lemongrass, 1% cinnamon 1% sesame oil .5% castor castor oil and 95.3% purified water. I have just started looking into essential oils now for about 3 months and respect your advice. You can see it at Would love to hear your comments. I would like to try it on the cat I told you about in another post that loves your pain formula and wants to lick me when I have it on. All the spot on topicals seem to irritate her skin.


Saturday 8th of July 2017

Hi Pamela,

I would generally not use any essential oils on cats due to the potential long term effects which are not well known as it goes into their bloodstream when the lick their coat/fur. This product may be different (not sure) since it is formulated by a Vet. In any case, if you are using it, please ensure that you follow the directions for use and take the necessary precautions, especially if the cat starts to lick its fur/coat.

Regards, Olivia


Sunday 26th of February 2017

I used essential oils on my cat when he had an abscess on his face that just wouldn't heal. I added lavender and frankincense to some olive oil and applied it directly to the wound with my clean finger every couple of hours for a week. At last it began to heal after months of not healing. He is now fully healed and that was over a year ago. There were no obvious side effects from using the oils


Sunday 26th of February 2017

Hi Scharryn,

Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I'd rather be on the cautious side and play it safe as cats tend to lick their paws and coat constantly. I suppose bit harder for the feline to reach areas around the face.

Regards, Olivia