Are Lavender-Scented Products Harmful to My Cat?

Our expert shares the real deal on essential oils and how they react with cats.

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Q: I’m a CAT FANCY subscriber and have read numerous articles and books that say all lavender-scented products are toxic to cats and should be avoided. Now I see aromatherapy products for cats, including some with lavender scents. Is it OK for me to use lavender-scented hand lotions? What’s your advice?
 

A: Many essential oils — including lavender oil — are toxic to cats and should never be given to cats orally or applied topically, in my opinion. These products can be rapidly absorbed through the digestive tract or through the skin, and then travel to the liver where they are metabolized. The feline liver is deficient in many enzymes, and it might be unable to metabolize these compounds properly, which leads to toxicity. If cats even inhale some of these oils, it can lead to problems because the oils can get absorbed from the lungs into the bloodstream and then to the liver. 
 
I doubt that a lavender-scented hand lotion has enough lavender oil to cause problems for your cat, especially because the smell is not wafting through the apartment where the cat can’t avoid breathing it. However, avoid petting the cat directly immediately after using lavender-scented hand lotion to avoid possibly getting it on the cat’s fur and becoming ingested during grooming.

Regards,
Dr. Arnold Plotnick, DVM

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Are Lavender-Scented Products Harmful to My Cat?

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Reader Comments

Lynn    Flagstaff, AZ

7/3/2015 3:03:42 PM

My vet as well as many aromatherapy practitioners say that if you dilute lavender essential oil 1/10 it is not toxic to cats. You are NOT supposed to put it on their fur nor give it to them orally but you can use the dilution in a vaporizer, etc. If you search online you can find a lot of references to it. Since I am not a vet it would be best to confirm whatever information with your vet.

liz    worc, MA

4/18/2015 10:52:33 PM

I diluted some lavender oil with water in a spray bottle and used it on my carpet.. I have been looking up the dangers of the oil and am concerned. Is it safe for my cat to be in the room with me hours after spraying?

Penny    International

11/27/2014 3:31:24 AM

I put lavender essential oil on myself and my 3yr old cat just walks away from me when after applied... Is there any other oils I should be careful about around cats?

elizabeth    north salem, NY

11/2/2014 5:24:59 PM

greetings!
confused as to which products containing lavender are harmful for our cats.
IS LAVENDER BAR SOAP HARMFUL TO THEM IF LEFT OUT ON TOP OF SINK TO USE ON MY HANDS ???
SAFE TO PET CAT AFTER WASHING HANDS WITH THIS ???
thank you
elizabeth

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