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Feline Friendly Essential Oils for Cats

Humans and cats have a natural understanding that goes way back in time, as far back as 3,600 BC. It has only improved with time. Today there are well over 500 million domesticated cats worldwide with the US claiming up to 88 million of those.

That makes them the most popular pets, and not just because they are really cool but also because 90% of their brain is similar to that of a human. That explains why Stubbs the Cat was a very successful mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska; leading people for a whopping 15 years.

Which essential oils for cats should I buy?

But owning a cat goes beyond just the social and good understanding. There is strong evidence suggesting that owning a feline reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke by a third. Additionally, cat owners are generally more open to new experiences and are 17% more likely to be college/university graduates with at least one degree. That is to say there are endless reasons to keep and love a cat.

Even so, taking care of a domestic feline is totally different from taking care of other pets, especially when essential oils are concerned. If you are a cat owner who also enjoys the occasional scent of essential oils you may want to read on and learn how you can get the best of both without risking the safety of your cat.

Which essential oils for cats are safe?

If you do some reading around the web you will come across a lot of conflicting information about cats and essential oils. But one thing that does stand out is the fact that cats don’t process oils in the same way that humans and other pet animals like dogs do.

That’s why cats and certain oils don’t mix together well. It is that difference that makes so many cat owners unsure about what oils to use for their furry companions.

What Is The Truth?

This might sound like a lot of science (and it actually is) but you do need the information so that you understand how to keep your cat safe. For starters, cats are very sensitive to scent.

They have scent glands on their forehead, along the tail, chin, lips and even the underside of the front paws. They have an extra ordinary ability to ‘taste’ scents that are in the surrounding environment, which they do through grimacing.

Are Essential Oils Toxic to Cats?

Despite that amazing ability to sense scents, felines don’t have an enzyme called glucuronyl transferase (usually found in the liver) which protects animals from toxins, like those caused by harmful scents. That leaves them very susceptible to certain plant components. You probably know this already but it wouldn’t hurt to mention that essential oils are usually extracted from plants.

Now what happens is that when a cat inhales the scent, its liver may fail to recognize the substances contained in that scent. Usually when that happens the substance is neither metabolized nor expelled, instead it is stored in the body as a toxin. The toxicity can build up over time and eventually lead to illnesses.

Considering how cats are small in size that can take a very short period of time. If the worst comes to the worst you may have to detoxify and treat your pet cat. But first you will need to know whether the illnesses are in fact arising from toxicity.

Signs of Toxicity in a Cat

Here are the most common signs:

  • Changes in behavior. For example the cat can refuse to play and show utter lack of energy.
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits.
  • Signs of light headedness and confusion.
  • Digestive problems like diarrhea, vomiting and constipation.

Those are just a few but they could point to a toxicity problem. If you notice such changes every time you use certain types of essential oils it is advisable to get a vet’s diagnosis and/or opinion. In the long run, the best way to keep your cat in perfect health is to only use essential oils that are good for cats.

Are Essential Oils Safe For Cats?

How about we start with the essentials oils bad for cats. Generally, you should try as much as possible to keep your cat away from oils that are rich in phenols, ketones, alpha-pinene and d-limonene.

That goes for both internal and topical application. A cat’s liver can’t metabolize those compounds, particularly if they are highly concentrated.

So which oils to avoid?

  1. Oils that are rich in phenols include: cinnamon, peppermint, eucalyptus, thyme, wintergreen, ylang ylang, basil, birch, clove, tea tree, marjoram, anise, oregano, parsley, nutmeg and citronella.
  2. Oils that contain ketones include: sage, peppermint, spearmint, marigold, thuja, red cedar, yarrow, dill, Dayana and hyssop.
  3. Those that have alpha-pinene are: pine, cypress, juniper, rosemary, eucalyptus, spruce, myrtle, silver fir, verbanon, nutmeg and dill.
  4. D-limonene is present in citrus oils like: orange, tangerine, grapefruit, lemon, celery seed, lime and mandarin.

Note that you may still use the listed oils with your cat but after very thorough dilution.

It is the high concentration of those toxic substances that causes the problem, otherwise very small quantities are largely harmless.

Dilution of the essential oils to reduce/eliminate toxicity

If you can dilute your oils so that the phenol content is less than 8%, ketone is less than 20% and alpha-pinene and d-limonene are less than 15% that would be great.

So, the list above contains oils that you should only use with absolute caution.

What oils are safe for cats?

1. Lavender essential oil

Just like in humans, lavender oil eases pain, tension and anxiety in cats. It is also a great flea repellant. It has a calming effect, so it’s great for car rides, vet visits or other commonly stressful situations.

2. Frankincense oil

This oil has so many qualities that are all beneficial to your cat. It is antiseptic, disinfectant, anti-inflammatory and helps with digestive problems like constipation.

3. Helichrysum oil

This liver stimulating oil is a detoxifier that also has antibiotic and antifungal properties.

4. Geranium oil

You may use this oil to balance your cat’s hormones and boost its emotions. It reduces stress and depression while at the same time enhancing blood circulation

5. Cedarwood oil

Topical application of cedarwood is very effective at killing adult fleas.

Our top picks

Choose Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils Only

Most of the problems that are associated with essential oils and cats usually boil down to the quality of the oil. If you use synthetic, perfume grade oils your feline will most certainly get an undesired reaction. The same cannot be said for high quality, therapeutic grade oils.

However, even if the oil is 100% pure and natural you still need to dilute it up to 80 or 90% (please refer to the previous section for more guidance on how much you should dilute specific oils).

This is the best way to ensure you’re using essential oils safe for cats.

The Best Essential Oil Brands for Cats

While it might be extremely hard to get an essential oils kit that is strictly designed for cats, you can buy a normal set and dilute the oils to the optimum level for cats. If the set contains one or a few oils that are not good for your cat you can always keep them far or only use them when your furry companion is not around.

In light of that, we have narrowed down all the options to the two listed below. Apart from containing most of the oils that are good for cats, they are pure and natural.


This set contains some of the best essential oils for pets, including lavender and frankincense. Those two are completely safe for cats and even come with several health benefits. While lavender is great for relaxing your pet cat by easing its pain, tension and anxiety, frankincense helps treat a variety of digestive problems and also offers anti-inflammatory and antiseptic qualities.

The other six are peppermint, lemon, eucalyptus, cinnamon, clove leaf and rosemary. They are not harmful to cats when diluted thoroughly. It is also advisable not to use them on your cat every day. The reason why we even considered recommending this set is because Majestic Pure oils are 100% pure and natural. They don’t have any additives, which makes them safe for cats when they are diluted.

Plus the packaging is actually good. Each of the oils comes in a 10ml amber bottle that filters out light. The sleek majestic case makes this product an ideal gift box, not just for cat owners but generally anybody who needs to take advantage of the benefits of essential oils.


This is a single oil, but the best you can possibly get. While many people turn to doTerra essential oils, this one has it beat in this instance. Of all the essential oils that that you can use for your cat helichrysum is arguably the very best. It detoxifies the liver and helps eliminate potentially harmful substances, including toxins from other essential oils. Cats are generally more sensitive to essential oils than other animals.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use the oils in your house if you have a pet cat. Instead, you can use this oil to reduce or completely eliminate the negative effects of other oils on your cat. It also offers antibiotic and antiseptic benefits, which makes it a great oil for boosting your cat’s immunity.

This particular brand from Fabulous Frannie is 100% pure and comes in a 10ml bottle. Its ability to mix well with other oils makes it great for making DIY blends for your cat. But remember to dilute it before any topical application, otherwise it might harm your cat’s skin. Alternatively, you can use it with a diffuser and let your family enjoy the benefits of helichrysum as well.

How to apply essential oils?

You can either use an essential oil diffuser to diffuse the oils into the air or use a carrier. Coconut oil is recommended as a carrier. It will reduce the risk of skin irritation, but coconut oil is a known anti fungal solution, and it can help your cat’s skin.

Final notes

  • While you should avoid some oils, essential oils have shown to be a great way to boost their physical and emotional wellbeing.
  • Use 100% therapeutic grade essential oils
  • Remember to always store essential oils out of reach for pets and children. If you suspect that your pet has been poisoned by essential oils (or other substances): immediately contact a veterinarian or the Pet Poison Help Line (24/7) at 855-764-7661.

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Marisue June 25, 2018 at 8:01 pm

How should an oil be used for cats, in a diffuser or topically and where on cats?


Jessica July 16, 2018 at 8:28 am

Great question Marisue. So sorry for the delay in reply. In many cases essential oils are safe for topical application when diluted with water and sprayed onto the fur. I also recommend using only therapeutic grade oils. Alternatively, the most recommended way to use essential oils for your cat is by diffusing them. That way both you and your four legged friend can reap the benefits in a safe way.

Looks like helichrysum is the top seller when it comes to boosting feline immunity and keeping them overall healthy and happy.


kelly carvallis July 19, 2018 at 1:33 pm

I’ve seen several sources that state lavender (and possibly Frankincense) were toxic to cats.


Jessica July 22, 2018 at 5:27 pm

Hi Kelly,

Thanks so much for bringing this up. What a great point.

Currently the ASPCA states that lavender is not dangerous, toxic, or poisonous to cats BUT that does warn that introducing the essential oil topically or internally is not recommended. Both doTerra’s lavender and balance blend have shown to be effective for calming purposes.

The same goes for other oils such as frankincense and eucalyptus. Always remember to diffuse these ones and not apply directly or with a spray to your pets fur.

Caution: As always, it is important to keep an eye out for any symptoms such as symptoms such as dizziness, lack of appetite, vomiting, lack of balance, or lethargy when introducing anything new to your four legged friend. But ideally you’ll notice a calmer, less anxious, flea free, more relaxed kitty!


Amanda Alexander August 18, 2018 at 1:51 pm

Which of these safe oils are good and helping with congestion? I have a cat with feline herpes and she’s 17. I want something that will help her loosen the mucus and help her breathe a little easier. Suggedtions??


Jessica August 29, 2018 at 10:32 am

Hi Amanda!

Sorry to hear your cat is having a little trouble breathing. The number 1 pick to help cats breathe a little better, and is safe, is eucalyptus. Just like humans! This oil is known to be an expectorant and doubles as a flea repellent at the same time. You can use this by itself or with lavender, cedar-wood, or camomile to relax your four legged friend, depending if she is showing a little anxiety, or needs a little rest.

Either make a mixture in a spray bottle and spray in the air around your cat, or alternatively use with a diffuser for 15-20 each hour, for about 4 hours. Do this for 2-3 days until you notice her breathing easier.

If you like, find out more about eucalyptus and our top recs here


Darby August 18, 2018 at 11:54 pm

Is lemongrass safe for cats as well? I’ve seen some sites say they are toxic and others say they are good to use.


Seth August 29, 2018 at 5:59 pm

Hey! Would I be able to diffuse rosemary, spruce, or hinoki oils around my cat?


Jessica September 20, 2018 at 10:37 am

Hi Seth!

Spruce is a no go. Rosemary can be used but should be well dilluted and unfortunately I’m not sure about hinoki.


Shanda August 31, 2018 at 2:16 pm

Is there an essential oil that might safely help stop my cat from pulling out her hair! Mostly this is around her tail and hind quarters. Would I want to apply directly or diffuse?


Jessica September 2, 2018 at 2:11 pm

Hi Shanda,

So sorry to hear that! The top two oils I would recommend are Geranium and Lavender oil. Both diffused for 15 minutes per hour, for 2-3 hours a day.
Geranium helps balance out cats hormones and emotions which helps reduce stress. This may be why she’s pulling out her hair.
Lavender also is a great relaxer for tension, anxiety or pain.

Lastly, I would check to make sure there are no cuts, wounds, or fleas around these areas. Some sort of irritation might be why she’s picking at those areas.

Feel free to look at our top picks for lavender and geranium and make sure you’re using high grade, quality oils. Hope it helps!


MARGARET Austin -Cantore September 14, 2018 at 2:27 pm

Jessica I have a cat with asthma/allergy situation..she grooms alot has to have paw gel to help eliminate hair in feces..want to relax her and ease her symptoms…can I use essential oils on a diffuser for her? .thank you


Jessica September 20, 2018 at 10:44 am

Yes you can! The two that might work best in this situation are lavender and geranium.

Lavender helps with anxiety and eases tension she might be feeling and geranium reduces stress and helps boost emotions. Put a few drops into a diffuser and turn on a low mist setting for 15 minutes at a time, in a closed room. Be sure to use quality oils and check for any unusual reactions. You can do repeat this every hour for 2-3 hours or until you’ve noticed her relaxing. Hope it helps!


Helen October 5, 2018 at 11:56 am

I have read that Rose Geranium oil can be used on dogs for tick prevention. I am wondering if this would also be safe for cats too? If so, would you have an6 recommendations on application. Many thanks


Jessica October 9, 2018 at 11:05 am

Hi Helen!

Yes it can be used for cats as well to keep away the ticks, as well as rosemary oil. Just remember to make sure you properly dilute it.
Try mixing 4 drops of rose geranium with one cup of water and spray onto your cat’s fur. Be sure to keep an eye out that the mixture is not ingested.

Also, you can use neem oil to repel fleas and ticks too. Add a small amount, like a teaspoon per 1 cup of pet shampoo for bath time. Hope this helps!


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