While essential oils also can benefit the mental and physical well-being of our four-leggeds, there are some risks involved that we, as conscientious caretakers, must be aware of.
Dr. Laurel Davis, Asheville’s holistic vet, offers “Stories from a Holistic Veterinarian,” the blog of a holistic vet and “animal interpreter.” With a clinic in downtown Asheville, NC. Dr. Laurel also offers animal health, lifestyle and vaccination advice for cats, dogs and their human friends across the country.
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A Fine-smelling Feline? Essential Oils and Your Cat
Essential oils have become very popular in the past couple of years, and I can understand why. In addition to smelling lovely, essential oils have a long list of potential benefits for human beings, ranging from decreasing our anxiety to fighting our infections.
While essential oils also can benefit the mental and physical well-being of our four-leggeds, there are some risks involved that we, as conscientious caretakers, must be aware of. The fanciful felines in your life will especially appreciate your awareness around the oils you choose. Cats can be exceedingly sensitive to essential oils, and what is safe for you to use as a human isn’t necessarily safe for your cat.
You may decide simply to avoid using essential oils because of the potential sensitivity of your cat-friend. It is very easy to overdo it in the essential oil department, so if you do choose to use oils in a home with a cat resident, remember that less is more.
A way to get ahead of the curve about safe vs not-so-safe oils is to educate yourself. When it comes to caring for our fur babies, there is no such thing as too much knowledge!
If you want to explore essential oils that might benefit your cat, I recommend reaching out to your local holistic veterinarian for some guidance. He or she should be able to help you navigate the many options and establish some guidelines that will keep your cat healthy and safe. In the meantime, here are a few things to be aware of when using essential oils for your cat.
1. Please always use high-quality, naturally extracted (by steam or cold press) essential oils.
All essential oils are not created equal, and sometimes diffusing or using a low-quality oil can do more harm than good.
- You can read more about essential oil quality and the difference between a fragrance oil and an essential oil here.
2. Dilute the essential oil.
Try Diluting the oil 10 or even up to 50 times before using it. A little bit goes a long way!
3. Avoid essential oils that contain phenols and/or monoterpene hydrocarbons.
These are the components of the oils that are believed to cause cats to react adversely (read more about that here).
- Some oils to avoid that fall into these categories include pine, wintergreen, clove, oregano, thyme, cinnamon, birch, melaleuca/tea tree oil, and other citrus oils.
4. Slowly introduce your cat to new smells.
Try wearing the heavily diluted essential oil or diffusing it near them. This will help your favorite felines acclimate to the oils. If you notice any adverse reactions or intolerances, back off a little and dilute the oil further before you try again. Slow and steady wins the race!
Sidenote: When you are wearing essential oils, do not expect or force your cat to be lovey dovey. Remember, their noses are much more powerful than our own, and it’s okay if your kitty needs a little space!
As Asheville’s holistic vet I would love to hear about any of my readers’ experiences using essential oils for (or around) their cats. If you have a story to share, head on over to my Facebook page and leave us a comment. Next up, I’ll be writing about using essential oils for those cuddly canines in your life, so be sure to tune in next week!
Dr. Laurel Davis is Asheville’s holistic vet, offering phone and Skype consultations for animal lovers everywhere. Call 828-254-2221 or order an Ask Dr. Laurel™ phone or Skype session or bring your dog or cat to her downtown Asheville, NC clinic. Read more patient stories.
Get to know Dr. Laurel by reading her blog.
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