Top 5 Best and Worst Essential Oils to Use Around Cats

Top 5 Best and Worst Essential Oils to Use Around Cats

 So, you started using essential oils, and you can’t get enough of them. But for some reason, your cat seems to be keeping its distance, staring straight at you from afar, even creepier than usual. It’s possible that your cat just enjoys doing this to freak you out, but it’s more likely that your cat does not like the smell of those essential oils!

This brings us to the question, “what are the best and worst essential oils to use around cats?”

Using Essential Oils Around Cats

It’s important to understand that there is a raging debate about the use of essential oils around pets. GuruNanda doesn’t recommend applying any of these oils directly to the skin or fur of your cat. Be sure to consult your veterinarian and/or a clinical aromatherapist specializing in animals for advice on topical usage.

Many cat lovers have asked, "Are essential oil diffusers safe for cats?" While we don’t encourage the use of essential oils topically or orally for cats, some essential oils are considered safe to diffuse around cats. Although this article will provide some reliable guidelines, please understand that each cat is different and could have a different reaction.

If you only take away one thing from this article, please let it be to pay close attention to your cat(s) when you diffuse an essential oil.

cat on bed

Determining the Effects of Essential Oils on Cats

Differentiating between which essential oils are safe to diffuse around cats and which ones are not is a complicated challenge. The perspectives are varied, so our mission with this article is to find the most consistent information around the web and share it with you.

In many articles, you will find a reference to the ASPCA website for which plants and herbs are toxic to cats. ASPCA covers the ingestion of such plants and herbs. However, there have not been enough formal studies to be certain about the effects of diffusing essential oils. Therefore, ASPCA is an excellent resource for the ingestion of plants, but not so much for diffusing essential oils.  

However, many people have used essential oils around their cats, and the goal of this article is to comb through all of the information around the web and develop a safe list of essential oils to use around cats.

The Top 5 Best Essential Oils to Use Around Cats

Disclaimer: Each cat is different. That’s part of what cat lovers appreciate about their cats the most. It’s important to note that cats can be allergic to certain plants and herbs just like humans. It is always best to check with your veterinarian and an aromatherapist that specializes in animals before using essential oils around cats. Also be sure to carefully observe your cat after diffusing an essential oil. If you notice your cat behaving strangely or moving away from the area more than usual, the cat might be experiencing adverse effects from the oil.  

5 Best Essential Oils to Use Around Cats

Cedarwood: Cat lovers around the web praise the use of Cedarwood Essential Oil around cats. Not only is usually safe to use around cats, it also contains properties that kill adult fleas. For users, it provides a calming and grounding experience. According to Cornell University, Cedarwood is eligible for minimum risk pesticide use.

Rosemary: According to ASPCA, Rosemary Essential Oil (specifically Rosmarinus officinalis) is safe to use around pets in general. Like Cedarwood, it has also been used to kill fleas, which provides multiple benefits for both you and your cat. According to one study, cats treated with Rosemary infused shampoo treatments were “well tolerated and adverse effects were not recorded.” Although, we do not recommend applying any essential oil directly onto your cat.      

Lavender: The reviews are mixed regarding whether Lavender Essential Oil is safe to use around cats or not. This will, again, come down to your cat. Moderation and observation are critical parts of using essential oils around cats. However, many users have noted that their cats seem curious about the smell and do not show any signs of toxicity.  

Frankincense: This essential oil is claimed by some websites to be toxic to cats if ingested or applied. Just as a reminder, only diffuse the essential oils on this list, and pay close attention to your cat as you diffuse. Many essential oil users love to diffuse Frankincense Essential Oil to help reduce stress and improve sleep.

Clary Sage: Not only is Sage deemed non-toxic for cats by ASPCA, there is also plenty of anecdotal evidence that suggests it is an excellent oil to help keep you and your cats calm. Many people use Clary Sage Essential Oil to relax, rejuvenate, and balance their moods. Diffuse this fantastic oil is a great way to enjoy yourself without negatively affecting your cat. 

Warning Signs

Discontinue the use of essential oils and move your cat out of the area immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Irregular breathing
  • Unusual lethargy
  • Constant drooling
  • Spasms or tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Inflammation or redness on the mouth or nose
  • Rubbing of the face with a paw
  • Signs of dizziness


Depending on the severity of the symptoms, you may want to take your cat to an emergency veterinary technician as soon as possible.

Cat trying to escape

The Worst Essential Oils for Cats:

This list was put together by exploring the official ASPCA and Pet Poison Helpline websites. While some users have found that their cats are fine around some of these oils, there is enough evidence out there to suggest that these are a risk to your cat.

Tea Tree: There are several accounts around the web of cats falling victim to Tea Tree Oil. It is cited as toxic to cats on both Pet Poison Helpline and ASPCA. However, keep in mind that the ASPCA list is more focused on digestion than inhalation.

Peppermint: According to Pet Poison Helpline, Peppermint Essential Oil is “known to cause poisoning in cats.” Dogs are also highly sensitive to this essential oil, so it might be best to avoid Peppermint Essential Oil around pets in general.  

Wintergreen: According to several sources, including the Pet Poison Helpline and ASPCA, Wintergreen Essential Oil can be toxic to cats. There are also several anecdotal examples of cats struggling around Wintergreen Essential Oil.

Citrus: According to, “The stems, leaves, peels, fruit and seeds of citrus plants contain varying amounts of citric acid, essential oils that can cause irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression if ingested in significant amounts.” There have also been numerous reports of cat-owners whose cats are sensitive to citrusy scents.

Pennyroyal: This essential oil is derived from plants within the mint family. The specific species is Labiatae. It is frequently used in flea powders, sprays, and in fragrances. Unfortunately, since some companies advertise Pennyroyal Essential Oil to help get rid of fleas, some pet owners have used it to ward off pests even though their cats are in the home.

According to “It can be toxic to cats particularly when ingested.” Several other sources confirm this to be true. It may not be so toxic when diffused, but why take the risk?

Cat cuddling

Final Thoughts

Yes, it might be a little inconvenient to do all the research for the best and worst essential oils to use around cats, but it’s worth it because you love your little feline friend. Very few things are more devastating than feeling like you might’ve harmed your cat. Remember that the best thing you can do for your cat is to keep a very close eye on them after diffusing essential oils. And definitely, don’t leave the essential oils lying around or easily accessible to your cat.

Which essential oils work well around your cat(s)? Which ones don’t?

Let us know in the comments below!