Oil Diffusers and Cats: Is It Safe to Have Both?

Nearly 30% of Americans own a cat. Are you one of them? 

If so, you know the joy that your favorite feline brings into your life! Furbabies are like family, and you naturally want the very best for yours. 

Often, this requires carefully reviewing the types of products that you bring into your home, double-checking each one to make sure it's pet-friendly. 

If you've recently started using essential oils, you might be wondering about the relationship between oil diffusers and cats.

Is it OK to diffuse your bedtime lavender when Kitty is in the room? Are there special precautions you should take before filing your reservoir? Today, we're diving into ways to use your diffuser safely, so you and your beloved cat can both enjoy the therapeutic benefits of this household hobby!

Can Cats Be Near Essential Oils?

First, let's deliver the good news.

You do not have to discard your oil diffuser just because you bring a kitten home or you want to add a cat to the family! Nor do you have to send your cat outside when you're ready to freshen your home with a new scent.

Cats and oil diffusers can cohabitate. The key is understanding how your pet's sensitive nose reacts to different oils. 

There are plenty of incredible oils that are safe to use around your cat. In fact, there are even varieties that can help treat and even heal your kitty's minor ailments, such as ear mite infections. However, there are a few essential oils that can be dangerous to diffuse nearby.

Thankfully, you don't have to second-guess your next purchase or wonder if you've chosen the wrong bottle. Researchers have studied these connections for years and know the precise dos and don'ts!

Next, let's take a look at the oils to avoid using around your cat.


Feline Foes: Essential Oils to Avoid

How can certain essential oils, which are so soothing and beneficial to humans, negatively affect your cat's health? The answer lies in the phenols that some oils contain. 

These are compounds that occur naturally in certain plants. When an essential oil is made from that plant, the phenols are found in heavy concentrations. While harmless to us, these phenols require a special enzyme for metabolization that cats don't have.

If you're used to diffusing your essential oils all throughout the day, your cat could ingest a substantial amount of those phenols. As such, it's helpful to know which oils contain them. 

A few of the most popular kinds include:

  • Citrus oil
  • Peppermint oil
  • Cinnamon oil
  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Clove oil
  • Tea tree oil

If ingested in high amounts, these oils could trigger a range of health conditions in your cat. These include gastrointestinal distress, liver damage, and central nervous system depression. 

Signs of Phenol Toxicity

When we speak about cats ingesting essential oils, it's important to understand what we mean. Of course, you aren't actively dropping the oils onto your kitty's tongue!

But, she's likely absorbing more of the oil than you think.

When you diffuse essential oils, the droplets go into the air and fall onto surfaces in your home. Usually, these are tiny droplets that dissipate in a matter of seconds so you never really notice them. 

However, if your cat happens to be strutting by at the right time, she could rub her fur up against that droplet, or even against the diffuser. The same applies if you pet your cat right after using your diffuser when your hands might be coated with a little oil. 

In addition, your cat can also inhale any oils that are suspended in the air around your home. As they fall, these droplets can adhere to her coat, and she could ingest them later as she cleans herself with her tongue. 

Keeping all of this in mind, you need to understand the key warning signs of phenol toxicity. If any of these symptoms appear, it suggests that your cat has ingested too much of the dangerous phenol chemicals and needs immediate medical attention.

Warning signs to look out for include:

  • Vomiting
  • Watery eyes
  • Watery nostrils
  • Wobbliness
  • Tremors
  • Drooling
  • Labored breathing
  • Liver failure

Note that these symptoms could appear very quickly. Or, they could take a while to manifest. It all depends on the concentration of phenols in the air and how much your cat ultimately took in.

If you diffuse essential oils and notice any of these health conditions, go ahead and take your cat in for an emergency vet visit. If you're unable to make the appointment quite yet, you can also call the ASCPA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) for guidance on what to do next.

An Alternate Route

If you love these oils, take heart. You do not have to totally abandon your practice of diffusing them in your home! Just try to limit your cat's exposure, or only run your diffuser for a short amount of time. 

You can also take your diffuser to work and enjoy it at the office if allowed. The scent of peppermint oil is invigorating and shown to improve your focus!

Diffusing Oils Your Kitty Will Love

Now that we've covered what not to do when using your essential oils around your cat, let's talk about ones that are perfectly safe!

Remember how certain oils are toxic to your kitty because of the phenols they contain? The opposite applies in this case. Other oils are safe because the plants they're derived from are safe and considered non-toxic to pets. 

A few of the most popular, feline-friendly plants include:

  • Basil
  • Rose
  • Sage
  • Fennel
  • Thyme
  • Jasmine
  • Lemon balm
  • Hibiscus

Before you rush out and buy a bottle of each kind of oil, remember the differences between a whole plant and a bottle of essential oil. To maintain their distinct scent, these oils contain much higher concentrations of certain compounds, including phenols. 

Moreover, each manufacturer is different in the way they process and create their oils. As such, specific plant components are found in varying degrees across various kinds. Before you make any purchase, take the time to read the label on the bottle.

It should list the plant compounds it contains, along with associated concentrations of each. While the plants in the above list are generally considered safe, it's always best to check with your veterinarian before buying or diffusing a new oil.

The Best Kinds of Diffusers to Use

cat sleeps on the couch

If you decide to diffuse essential oils in your home, it's wise to choose a diffuser that can help keep your kitty as safe as possible. 

In general, there are certain kinds of diffusers that are more pet-friendly than others. Take passive reed diffusers and potpourri pots, for instance. Though these can be beautiful and decorative, they also pose a major health and safety risk.

Cats can easily knock these diffusers over, spilling their contents onto the floor or dampening their fur to a dangerous degree. The same holds true for candles, room sprays, plug-in air fresheners, and liquid potpourri products. 

An essential oil diffuser, on the other hand, is one of the safest health and wellness products you can have in your home. 

These allow you to drip a few droplets of your preferred essential oil into a reservoir of water, immediately diluting the oil and rendering it not as potent. Then, you plug the diffuser into your wall, where the oil-infused water droplets can shoot into the air as a fine mist. 

Looking for a new diffuser for your home? Check out our Wood Essential Oil Diffuser.

Not only is this high-output diffuser offered at an economical price point, but it's full of innovative features that make it remarkably feline-friendly.

The Cat-Friendly Features of Our Diffuser

Why should you add this diffuser to your home collection? Let's take a look at a few features that make it exceptionally cat-friendly.

Size and Scale

This diffuser is designed to be as sleek as possible, making it a welcome and discreet addition to any room in your house. Its slim size is also advantageous to your cat, as it's less likely to get knocked over by a flapping tail or curious paw!

In addition, this diffuser also boasts a sizable 400mL tank. With this size of reservoir, it can run for more than 13 hours before needing a refill! This allows you to stretch your essential oils even further and dilutes the oil for a longer period of time. 

Timed Operation

Arguably the best, most kitty-centric feature of this diffuser? The timer!

With this model, you never have to worry if you left the house and forgot to unplug your diffuser. You also don't have to wonder if your cat is ingesting too much oil because you went to work and left it running. 

Rather, you can strategically set this diffuser to run on a timer that meets your needs and accommodates your (and your cat's) schedule. The timing options include:

  • One-hour timer
  • Three-hour timer
  • Six-hour timer
  • Continuous timer

Variable Mist Output

When your diffuser is running, you can also control the level of mist it's delivering. This way, you can help make sure your cat isn't ingesting too much without your knowledge. 

If you plan to run your diffuser all day, you can choose a low mist output of 30mL per hour. If you need to freshen the air quickly, you can also choose from a high mist output of 50mL per hour. 

Pet-Proofing Your Diffuser Use

Cats aren't the only animals that can't tolerate certain kinds of essential oils. Dogs, bunnies, and other common household pets are also at risk if you don't follow certain safety precautions. 

Rather than packing up your diffuser forever, just keep these important safety tips in mind.

Keep It Out of Reach

Cats are excellent climbers. Even if you think your oil diffuser is safe on a high shelf, it might be no match for her pouncing prowess. 

Thus, think twice when setting your diffuser in place.

Choose a location where your cat cannot access it, such as on a bookshelf without a spot to land. Otherwise, you run the risk of your cat finding the perfect perch, taking a perfect swing, and catapulting everything to the floor.

Restrict Access

To stay safe, you can also restrict your oil activities to rooms where your cat is not allowed to roam, such as your master bathroom. 

This way, you can reap all of the oil diffusion benefits without any of the worry. Just make sure to close the door behind you and put all of the equipment away when it's not in use. That way, if your kitty does wander into off-limits territory, the threat is still eliminated.

Stay Vigilant

You know your cat better than anyone else does. Keep a close eye on her throughout the day and monitor her for any signs of toxic poisoning. 

If you notice even the slightest change in her health or behavior after you diffused essential oils, then call your veterinarian immediately.

Ask Your Veterinarian 

While many holistic pet treatments can be beneficial, this is one area that's best left to the experts. For instance, you might apply what you know about the healing properties of tea tree oil and rub some into your cat's ears to help combat infection.

Yet, this oil is highly toxic to cats and can wind up causing far more harm than good. If your cat has a health condition that you want guidance about, always talk to your veterinarian about recommended options. 

Oil Diffusers and Cats: Stay Safe and Smart

child playing with cat

You already know the plentiful health benefits of running your oil diffuser. Yet, it's critical to practice caution when using it around your precious furbabies.

When it comes to oil diffusers and cats, less exposure is best. As long as you aren't running your machine in a small, unventilated room for the entire day, the oils listed as generally safe should be appropriate to use.

Looking for more health and wellness information you can trust? Want to outfit your home with cushy, plush accessories? We've got you covered.

Check out our full selection of products today and contact us with any questions. 

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