Is It Safe To Use Essential Oils With Cats?

kitty-eye_contactThe articles I posted about a month ago on Essential Oil Safety With Cats and Essential Oils to Avoid with Animals have stimulated quite a response.

There is a great deal of controversy surrounding whether it's safe to use essential oils with cats, and if so, exactly which essential oils are safe with cats, and whether it is the quality of the oils, the amount, or the constituents that matters.

Some readers disagreed with my earlier statements of caution and list of essential oils to avoid with cats. Here are some of the emails I received:

May I suggest that you consult Dr. Melissa Shelton DVM regarding your article on cats. The experts have a far different list of oils for cats. Your list is for adulterated oils not YL oils. Hope you find this helpful to correct your article. Plus Dr. Rev. Leigh Foster is also cat expert also has a much different list -which is VERY short. good news for cats, in fact, she says only grapefruit to be avoided and only because cats are not too meaty anyway. Thank you for your newsletters. (name withheld)

Dr. Rev Leigh Foster has used ALL those on the list w/YL only with fabulous success. Her specialty is cats.

Dr. Shelton has been asked to write a reference book and eo for animals, per one of her calls. She also did a call titled "Cats Cats Cats". Dr. Shelton talks about some of the oils in the list like pine she makes a very good statement watching cats chewing on pine needles and why are they attracted to that it if it was toxic to them. Animals will do what they need in nature. Makes sense. I think we have to re evaluate all those things with animals as we have had to do with all that was out there like with wintergreen, as an example for us humans. (name withheld)

I have again listened to Dr. Melissa Shelton's call "Cats, Cats, Cats" she talks alot about those oils that everyone says are "harmful" to cats. She has Thieves high in clove diffusing all the time in her house which is the clinic and all her cats get regular tests and there has never been a problem. Clove is on that list. She continues to monitor and is getting some hard data to show that in her opinion those concerns are for the poor quality oils and not for YL. Cats are like us, they are all different. She wants to pool information and if your cousin can communicate and share her data with Dr. Shelton of her cat's blood work etc. that will also help her in collecting data and writing her Animals reference book, as Dr. Shelton states in the training call. (name withheld)

Not being a vet, I really can't tell you what essential oils are safe and which are not. I can only report on what others have said. Each person wanting to use essential oils with their pets needs to do as much research as they can and make up their own mind.

My cousin has studied the topic (I don't know the name of her instructor or the method) and sent me the list of oils to avoid with cats. She has noticed that her cats (and dogs) have a hard time with certain oils, so she is very cautious.

People wrote in and asked for more clarification on where she got her information. This is my cousin's response:

The information I obtained about being cautious using essential oils on cats came from the book Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals by Kristen Leigh Bell, who has studied with Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt of the Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy. She cites two experts on cat sensitivities, Dr. Susan Wynn, DVM, who practices holistic medicine, and Dr. Safdar Khan, DVM, who works for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. This is a quote from Holistic Aromatherapy, page 163:

“The reason for this sensitivity can be found in their liver. Cats do not have the necessary enzymes to break down certain substances and effectively excrete them. This leads to a buildup of toxins in their bodies.” … "This toxin buildup does not always manifest itself immediately. Depending on the cat and what it has been exposed to, it can show up in hours, days, weeks, months, or even years."

Since I am not an expert, I would suggest that the person who disagrees with the above read the book (which has scientific explanations) and access the following internet sites for additional information and perhaps contact them for further explanations.

www.optimumchoices.com/animals_essential_oils (this site even sells Young Living and is still citing caution.)

http://www.thelavendercat.com/3501.html (Dr. Khan explains why essential oils are toxic to cats. The site also has additional information from other sources,)

www.holisticat.com/aromatherapy

http://www.cat-lovers-only.com/essential-oils-kill-cats.html

http://www.suite101.com/content/aromatherapy-and-cats-a124236 (article written by an aromatherapist who has her own aromatherapy company…you would think she would want to promote the sale of her essential oils, even for cats!)

Of course there is controversy and until more data and research is available there will always be disagreement. You can only make your best judgement based on the information you have and your intuition. Personally, because my pets are very precious to me, I would rather be more cautious since essential oils are extremely potent substances no matter how pure and no matter if Young Living. In addition, many people do not know how to properly use essential oils and therefore can cause more harm than good.

Just because it is Young Living does not mean it is safe for use without caution. I do use Young Living oils exclusively, but I am very careful using essential oils and have many reference books that I consult for cross-reference, not solely Young Living literature.

The issue with using essential oils on cats is not necessarily the purity of the oils (which, of course, is very important) but the components which make up the essential oils, such as phenols and terpenes, to which cats may be highly sensitive.

Kristene Leigh Bell goes on to say: "In certain clinical settings, essential oils can be used by veterinarians, and have shown themselves to have marked effects. The important issue is which oils are used, the quality of those oils, the dilution of those oils, and what the achieved effect is. For this reason, you won't find any recipes for cats in this book containing essential oils, and I discourage their use amongst laypeople. There are too many risk factors involved…"

I really suggest that people interested in treating their cats with essential oils read this book and/or go to the websites cited to more fully understand what the issue is in more detail than I can present here. Even though YL distributors may be well informed on essential oil components and functions, the customers to whom they sell the products may not.

Just like I would never feed onions or chocolate (no matter how organic and pure) to my dog because doing so could kill it. But onions, especially if organic, are very healthy for me!

Once again, its not for me to declare what is right or wrong here. I urge you to do your own research, exercise caution, and decide for yourself if its safe to use essential oils with your cats.

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