Heads up, cat mamas and essential oil fans. A Michigan woman has warned pet owners everywhere that she unknowingly "poisoned" her cat with essential oils. Understandably, many people who own cats are seriously concerned — and experts say these fears indeed have some truth to them.
In a Facebook post that has since been removed, Sue Murray wrote that the tragic incident began after she used a diffuser to spread eucalyptus oil scent in her house to help with a head cold.
She wrote, "The first couple days I didn’t notice any symptoms with Ernie, but on the fourth day, he was lethargic, unstable on his feet and was drooling excessively. My husband instinctively Googled eucalyptus oil. It stated that it can be toxic to cats and that they can’t metabolize it, and stated all of Ernie’s symptoms. It also said that without medical attention, it could be fatal!"
Are essential oils toxic to cats?
As it turns out, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) lists essential oils, including (but not limited to) eucalyptus, orange, and lemon as being among the leading causes of tremors in cats.
ASPCA even includes a specific warning about essential oils on a list of poisonous household products for pets:
Cats are especially sensitive to essential oils, and effects such as gastrointestinal upset, central nervous system depression and even liver damage could occur if ingested in significant quantities. Inhalation of the oils could lead to aspiration pneumonia. There are significant variations in toxicity among specific oils. Based on this, we would not recommend using essential oils in areas where your pets have access, unless pets are supervised or the use of the oil is approved by your veterinarian.
How awful! That's the last thing we'd want to have happen to our precious pets. Luckily, there are easy ways to prevent this from happening. Tina Wismer, the medical director for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, told Snopes that problems like these often arise when owners use essential oils on their cats to treat other problems.
She said, "Most of the problems are seen when owners apply 100-percent essential oil [products]. There’s some essential oils used for flea control [that] are typically less than 5 percent. So that’s a big difference."
She advised pet owners to always check to be sure that essential oils are labeled for use with a specific animal before using it on said animal. She also suggested that pet owners using diffusers should move their pets to another room and avoid using the devices for long periods of time. In case your pet does accidentally get exposed, symptoms to be on the lookout for include drooling, vomiting, coughing, and sneezing. Get your pet medical attention as soon as possible if this is the case.
Let's keep our beautiful cats safe!