Are Lavender-Scented Products Harmful to My Cat?

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

See what's OK for kitty to smell. Via Ramachrh/Wikipedia

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.

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Cats · Health and Care

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