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.

Dr. Arnold Plotnick, DVM

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Are Lavender-Scented Products Harmful to My Cat?

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Reader Comments

Denise    Springvale, ME

8/19/2013 8:06:01 AM

I personally don't use essential oils. I was told if you take lavender buds and soak them it makes lavender water. They suggested to either put some of the lavender water on a paper towel and dab around their face and neck area or spray some on their coat with a spray bottle. Any insight on this would be greatly appreciated. Sinceely, Denise Novak

debby    raleigh, MN

3/5/2013 12:20:22 AM

that was a good read didn't know that

Galadriel    Lothlorien, ME

3/3/2013 11:58:12 PM

Good to know.


7/25/2011 5:24:30 PM

I Have 2 Beautiful Cats, During This Summer They Got Exposed To Fleas. My Sister Recommended That I Use 3 Drops Of Cedar Wood Oil Along With 3 Drops Of Lavender Oil In A Spray Bottle Filled With Water. She's Had Cats For Years And Never Had A Problem So I Tried This..This Was Yesterday Morning And Now My Cats Aren't Eating Or Drinking And They Are Drooling Here And There Also Sleeping A Ton...I'm Scared To Death And Have No Money At This Time For A Vet...Is There Anything Anyone Could Tell Me To Help Me?? I Don't Want To Lose My Poor Babies!! My Sister Says Her And A Friend Had No Problem With This Remedy...This Has Become A Nightmare For Me!! Please Help!!

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