It is a personal mission of mine, to collect data about adverse events with essential oils and animals, and I must say it is nearly impossible to find out brands, lot numbers, obtain samples, names of those involved, and veterinary records connected with any of the past "toxicity" reports. When I am able to make contact with those experiencing current concerns, I am more able to collect the accurate data needed to make an thorough evaluation of the event. However, it can still be difficult, and there is a lot of stories that get circulated of "a friend of a friend"...
What I recommend when considering essential oil use for cats is to choose oils that are used often, have been used with many cats, and to use them with techniques that cats enjoy. Tea Tree Oil, or Melaleuca alternifolia, is another feline controversy which fascinates me. I have directly communicated with people who have sadly exposed their cat to a poor grade Melaleuca oil, resulting in subsequent seizures and death. Conversely, I have met many cats and have witnessed firsthand a cat receiving 4 drops of Melaleuca oil orally twice a day, followed with blood work, and showing no ill events. I do not necessarily endorse the use of Melaleuca with cats, as there are many other essential oils that can be used in place of this particular oil - but that does not mean we could "never" use it, we just have to do so properly. animalEO calms these concerns as we only select oils to use with cats, that have been used long term, with good veterinary safety data.
Traditional chemical flea and tick preparations are very similar to essential oils in regards to quality, effectiveness, and risk. In the veterinary community, we have seen horrific side effects to the use of over-the-counter, lower cost flea and tick products. The use of better quality products, typically results in a reduction of significantly harmful reactions. Although not completely benign, this is a very different scenario from the reactions of seizuring and drooling cats, neurologic symptoms, dying kittens, reddened and irritated skin, or pets who are frantically trying to rub the product off of themselves. Even the most traditional vets can usually relate to this parallel concerning quality variations. Essential oils can vary in quality, much like other veterinary products, and poor quality can equal toxicity.
One factor that is true for cats, is that they are notoriously deficient in the Cytochrome p450 liver metabolism pathway. This particular pathway is utilized for the metabolism and excretion of all sorts of chemicals from their body, including traditional medications. A cat's liver just does not metabolize items in the same manner or efficiency as a large dog or a human. This fact has made cats unique in veterinary medicine, no matter what the substance may be that we are exposing them to. For example, certain traditional Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory (NSAID) drugs can be used in dogs, but if given to a cat, has a high likelihood of causing significant damage to organs and even death.
Medically, I have found that we can use essential oils in cats effectively - although I select which essential oils to use carefully - based on those that are used frequently, repeatedly, and with the fact that they must be of the utmost quality.
animalEO takes all of these factors into consideration - and all of the oils I select for use in cats have not only been used with thousands of cats, but more importantly, they have been used with MY cats! My cats are my babies - and I would never recommend something for a cat that I would not do for my very own cats - who sleep with me every night. (Wonka is my Sphynx cat pictured above.) All of the animalEO products have been formulated with this in mind. And all of the animalEO products recommended for cats, are specifically tailored for what cats "enjoy" and tolerate. I wanted to take the guess work out of using essential oils safely for felines - and this will make the feline world a much happier place!
Any of the animalEO products for diffusion, can be used in cat households. We mainly recommend diffusing in a Water-Based Diffuser for cats. Blends that can be used for Diffusion include: Away, Bright & Clean, Calm-a-Mile NEAT, Charming, Citrus Clean, Clear Sailing, Feathered Blend NEAT, Feathered Plus NEAT, G.I. Goe, Hormone Blend, Lemony Sniffet, Lovely, NeuroBalance Diffusion Blend, Open-Air, RoseRamie, RoseRamie Plus, Sunshine in a Bottle, Transition, and Warmth Diffusion Blend.
There really isn't a lot of need for oils for cats beyond the KittyBoost or its "sister" blends AdrenoBalance, CardioBoost, LiverBoost, NeuroBoost, SugarBalance, ThyroBalance, or UroBoost! These blends contain almost everything a cat could need, and cats enjoy it VERY MUCH! The sister blends, build upon the KittyBoost - and are now available! These blends can be used in place of the KittyBoost when more specific support is desired for the liver, heart, kidneys, or other bodily system.
For cats, I will almost always recommend three basic layers of essential oil exposure. KittyBoost (or a sister blend) applied topically to the cat, regular water-based diffusion in the household, and Litteroma. Litteroma is perhaps the easiest way to use oils with cats - and you can read about it HERE. Any blend intended for diffusion can be selected and rotated through depending on the likes or needs of the household. For the record PLEASE NOTE - the KittyBoost is NOT for diffusion as it contains Fractionated Coconut Oil. When these techniques are implemented, cats are happy, owners are happy, and results follow!
Cats present their own unique controversies and requirements to essential oil use. Most cat owners would agree that cats have distinct opinions of the world, and this certainly holds true for aromatherapy. Cats are likely a little proud of the fact that they are indeed, the most contested topic in the world of essential oil use. Human viewpoints of this subject range from the adamant stance that essential oils cannot be used safely for cats, to those who use contraindicated essential oils on a daily basis for their felines.
After hearing all of the cautions and warnings from the veterinary community, I initially had concerns for my own multi-cat household. Routine blood and urine evaluations calmed the concerns, and no detrimental effects have been noted in my home or in the homes of my patients. In my own home, as of 2016, there has been over 7 years of almost constant diffusion of essential oils, as well as topical applications. What I have found to be mostly true, is that veterinarians who were the most cautious and warned other veterinarians and owners not to use essential oils, had in fact, never used essential oils themselves.
More problematic to me, is that the oils that have been linked to killing cats and harming animals, appear to have not been truly evaluated by the veterinarians who condemned them - nor were the oils in question available for others to evaluate.
As cat people - we all know that cats are individuals. Just because I find that many cats learn to enjoy a KittyBoost application - does not mean that your cat will! It is definitely their prerogative. There ARE ways to introduce essential oils in a more acceptable manner - that is likely to increase your success. HERE is a past newsletter that focuses on various oil aversions and animals not liking oils. But I'll discuss one main thing I see with topical oil applications for cats. I call it..."THE BIG SMELLY HAND SYNDROME". It is true we recommend Petting applications of oils for many animals - and it has become a popular recommendation on how to start out with KittyBoost applications for cats. However, if I have my druthers - I actually prefer to expose cats with the "drops from heaven" or "how did that rain get in the house?" method. Basically - I have found by having hundreds of cats through my own personal home - that if they are a bit more on the difficult or sensitive side (take for example my Bengal cat who is a bit fractious) - that the less I "try" to apply oils, the better things go.
So for me, the first cat oil application is likely to look like this (of course, when we are using a properly diluted animalEO oil blend that is intended for topical use in cats...) I usually feed the cat - make it a happy event. Canned, raw foods, or special treats are great! While kitty is happily munching, I drip a couple drops (1-3 for a cat new to essential oils) of KittyBoost on their spine. I don't really care where, and I don't really try to rub it in. If this is one of my more feral cats - I start with a few days of prep work before trying to drip the oils onto them. This will mean that I want them used to me standing near while they eat, and I usually carry the bottle with me as well - so nothing seems odd at all during the routine. It is just a normal thing that I feed them, touch a bottle or reach into my pocket and unscrew something. As many of our outdoor feral cats have taught me - they are food motivated. And if they are hungry but the "human" camps out near the food respectfully - they eventually will stay close and eat. After a while, this means I am able to "sneak" a topical application to these cats.
Thankfully, most of the cats who "own" you - are not quite as wild. But if you understand how we might make a feral cat happy with a situation - you will have a much easier time with a "regular" cat! Drip some oils onto your cat during "happy time" or meal time - and then ignore it completely. Like you were never there, and that you have no idea why they looked up suddenly or twitched their back. It is like rain coming down from the sky... Just a normal event. No need to worry.
When we coat our hands with a new and smelly substance, and then hover over our cat, approaching like a Hawk ready to take prey...it can be a bit intimidating. Although Petting can be a great and mild way to apply oils to many forms of animals - cats are definitely unique in if they prefer this method or not. Purely, I have found that starting with the "sneaky drops" seems to be a much better approach for most cats.