Certain essential oils can be just as hazardous to cats as chocolate is to dogs. Therefore, cat owners who want to keep essential oils in their homes must familiarize themselves with essential oil safety. This is to prevent any adverse effect on your feline friends, as well as to enjoy your essential oil use better.

Cats Have Sensitivity To Some Essential Oils

There are two types of essential oils which are most hazardous to felines. Their adverse effects are associated with the physiology of cats and in particular their livers. Cats are devoid of an enzyme called glucuronyl tranferase which is present in other animals and assists them in breaking down and handling the various components which are found in essential oils. Essential oils tend to be concentrated and a toxic buildup within cats is dangerous.

Many cat owners who also happen to be essential oil enthusiasts may have used these products around them for years without issue. This isn’t surprising as the majority of essential oils are safe. The two components which make certain essential oils hazardous are monoterpene hydrocarbons and phenols.

Monoterpene Hydrocarbons

These are a type of organic compound which are naturally produced by plants. They are comprised of dual isoprene units which themselves are a simple organic compound which plants also produce. Monoterpene is connected to hydrocarbon rings which are aromatic. The essential oils which contain this compound include citrus, pine oil and cajuput oil. All of these should be considered harmful to cats and should be avoided by those who own them.


Phenols are another category of organic compounds which are also aromatic and comprised of a hydroxyl group which is attached to a phenyl group. While they are similar to alcohol in terms of molecular structure, a phenol is distinct because its hydroxyl group is connected to the aromatic hydrocarbon ring, as opposed to alcohol where the hydroxyl group will be attached to a carbon atom which is saturated.

Phenol can be toxic to both humans and cats. They have corrosive characteristics which can affect the eyes or skin and they can irritate the respiratory system. Essential oils high in phenol will often include warning labels on them, and includes Thyme, Cinnamon, Clove, Savory and Oregano. Exercise caution when using these essential oils around your cats, and they should always be used in the smallest dilution which is 1 percent. Higher dilutions can lead to skin burns.

Pure Essential Oils Are Best Around Felines

Companies that produce essential oils will often dilute their products with substitutes so they can lower the cost. Unfortunately, many of these substitutes are hazardous to cats and even humans to a certain degree. This is why it is so important to use pure essential oils. However, it can be difficult to know which oils are pure and which are not. The manufacture of essential oils is not regulated, so unless you’re making them from scratch it can be hard to tell what is what. Only buy from companies which bottle their own products. Be cautious with any products that seem too cheap, and learn as much as you can about the process used to produce an essential oil before buying it.