Photo credit: Paddy and Dushi
Essential oils have been around since the time of the ancient Egyptians and have been used ever since to reduce anxiety and inflammation, fight infection, heal burns, and in a variety of other manners. The use of essential oils has been well documented in a multitude of cultures including the ancient Indians and Chinese, the Greeks and Romans, and throughout the Dark Ages and Renaissance in Europe. In more modern times, essential oils have been used to treat humans and animals alike, and many holistic practitioners swear by their efficacy and power.
But what are essential oils? Simply put, they are the concentrated compounds from plants that are characterized by their essence or distinctive scent. Practitioners believe that each different essential oil has specific properties that directly affect the human body. You’re probably most familiar with the more popular essential oils of lavender (all those calming lavender-scented bubble baths and lotions?), tea tree (you may have used it to treat a fungal infection or an ear infection), and peppermint (there’s a reason Rolaids and stomach aids are often flavored like this powerful herb!), but there is a vast variety of oils available that all have distinct purposes and applications.
Once the human population of the world discovered the power of essential oils, explorations into the use of essential oils on animals began. With our tendency to treat our animals as one of the family, this was an obvious next step. Because the veterinary use of essential oils is a relatively new field, there is a lack of literature and information on it’s safety and appropriate applications, but essential oils have proven useful in the treatment of dogs, horses, and other farm animals.* So what about the more fickle and delicate feline?
As it turns out, cats cannot tolerate essential oils as many other animals can. In fact, cats have a highly sensitive metabolic system and their livers and kidneys cannot process many substances. Essential oils fall within the realm of substances that cats cannot process, so it is very important to avoid using essential oils with your favorite feline friend. But does this mean you cannot use household products in your home that contain essential oils?
Most cleaning agents that utilize essential oils are safe to use around all of your pets, including your kitty. Our cleaners make use of the cleaning and aromatherapy properties of essentials oils but are diluted to a safe level that you needn’t worry about your cat’s delicate systems. While you won’t want to use a concentrated oil on or directly near your cat, household products that make use of essential oils should be safe enough for regular use. Just make sure you provide an easily accessible escape route in case Kitty doesn’t tolerate the diluted oils well!
For more information on essential oils, please visit the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy!
*Please consult your veterinarian before beginning or discontinuing any treatment or medication.