Lavender for Cats: Safe Aromatherapy or Toxic Threat? - Cat Crack Catnip

Lavender for Cats: Safe Aromatherapy or Toxic Threat?

Concerned about the safety of lavender for cats? Many cat owners wonder about the potential dangers of this popular herb. In this article, we’ll delve into whether lavender poses a threat to your feline friend, examining the effects of both the plant and its essential oils. You’ll learn key information to keep your cat safe and alternative relaxation methods that are feline-friendly.

What you should know about the safety of Lavender for cats:

  • Lavender is a no-no for your whiskered friend; its toxic compounds mean essential oils and plants can be a danger when licked, sniffed or nibbled on.

  • Exposure to lavender can turn your cat’s purr into a panic; symptoms of toxicity include skin irritation, vomiting and more. If Mr. Whiskers gets into lavender, ring up your vet—stat.

  • Invite tranquility without the toxins: opt for non-toxic plant pals or cat-safe aromatherapy alternatives like Cat Crack Catnip to keep your fur baby blissfully zen and out of harm’s way.

Understanding Lavender and Its Effects on Cats

Ah, lavender, the aromatic jewel of the herb garden. Its calming scent and beautiful blooms make it a favorite among humans. But is lavender safe for cats? Unfortunately, the answer is not as soothing as the scent itself, or the ambiance created by lavender candles.

Lavender contains two potentially toxic compounds, linalool and linalyl acetate, which can make your furry pal sick if ingested or inhaled in concentrated forms such as essential oils. The lavender plant itself can also pose risks to your cat, leading to lavender toxicity.

The Truth About Lavender Essential Oil and Cats

Essential oils have taken the wellness world by storm, with lavender oil being one of the most popular among many essential oils. However, while we relish in the calming aroma, our feline friends may be at risk. Lavender essential oil is particularly harmful to cats, who lack the ability to metabolize its components properly, leading to toxic effects and potential respiratory distress.

The higher concentration of toxic compounds in lavender essential oil, such as linalool and linalyl acetate, presents a greater risk to cats compared to the lavender plant. So, while that lavender oil may be a treat for your senses, it could be a threat to your cat.

Lavender Plants vs. Cats: A Risky Combination?

But what about the humble lavender plant? It may seem like a safer option compared to the concentrated oils. While it’s true that lavender plants are less likely to harm cats from mere contact, they can still pose risks if ingested in large amounts. So, is lavender oil safe? That’s a question worth considering.

Cats are fastidious groomers, and they can inadvertently ingest lavender by rubbing against the plant or from droplets of essential oils from diffusers and then grooming themselves. Even dried lavender can irritate their gastrointestinal tract if eaten in small amounts, and be potentially toxic if a large quantity is ingested.

Can Inhaling Lavender Scent Harm Your Cat?

Surely, a whiff of lavender can’t harm your cat, right? Wrong. Cats have a keen sense of smell, and the strong scent of lavender can irritate their cat’s respiratory system, causing symptoms like coughing and breathing difficulties.

Inhaling lavender oil through diffusers can lead to respiratory issues, especially concerning for cats with pre-existing conditions such as asthma. So, to prevent respiratory irritation, avoid using essential oils in areas where your cat spends a lot of time and ensure they can leave the room if diffusers are used.

Identifying Signs of Lavender Poisoning in Felines

So, we’ve found out that lavender can pose a risk to your feline friends. But how can you tell if your cat has been exposed to cats lavender poisoning? Cats may exhibit a variety of symptoms due to lavender poisoning, including skin irritation, gastrointestinal issues, and potential liver damage.

Skin contact with lavender essential oil can cause redness and chemical burns, while ingestion can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea. In severe cases, it can even cause lethargy, changes in heart rate, difficulty breathing, and potential liver damage. These symptoms may not appear immediately, making it crucial for pet owners to observe their cats closely for any signs of distress.

Immediate Steps When Your Cat Eats or Gets In Contact with Lavender

If your cat has had contact with lavender, or you suspect that they have ingested it, don’t panic. The first step is to contact a veterinarian immediately. The 24/7 Pet Poison Helpline can provide immediate guidance in case of accidental over-exposure of pets to essential oils like lavender.

It’s important not to induce vomiting in your cat, as this can potentially cause burns to their delicate digestive tract. Instead, collect any lavender, potpourri, or essential oil products your cat has been exposed to, and bring them to the vet for examination.

Alternatives to Lavender for Cat Relaxation

After diving into the potential dangers of lavender for our feline companions, you may be wondering, “So, how can I create a calming environment for my cat?” Fear not, for there are many alternatives to lavender that can help promote relaxation in cats, without posing potential health risks.

From natural remedies such as silvervine and catnip to non-toxic supplements like pheromone diffusers, there are plenty of ways to create a calming atmosphere for your pet without resorting to lavender.

Safe Aromatherapy Options for Your Kitty

When it comes to safe aromatherapy options for cats, it’s all about selecting the right essential oils. Some safe options include rosemary, frankincense, and cedarwood essential oils. However, they should still be used with caution and properly diluted.

Always diffuse essential oils in a well-ventilated area, allowing your cat the choice to leave if they find the scent unfavorable. In addition to essential oils, non-lavender-based air fresheners such as Fresh Wave products and hydrosols can offer aromatic benefits without the same level of risk.

Non-Toxic Plant Alternatives to Lavender

If you’re green-thumbed and love to have plants around the house, there are plenty of non-toxic plant alternatives to lavender. The Chinese Money Plant, Spider Plant, and Boston fern are not only safe for cats but also contribute to a calming environment and help purify the air.

Other cat-safe plants that you can keep at home include:

  • Catnip

  • Staghorn Fern

  • Bromeliads

  • Baby Tears

  • Calathea varieties

Choosing these non-toxic plants provides cat owners with the opportunity to enrich their home environment without the risks associated with lavender.

Preventing Accidental Lavender Exposure

While it’s best to avoid lavender around cats altogether, sometimes exposure can occur accidentally. Here’s how you can pet-proof your home to prevent unintentional exposure and ingestion by your furry friends.

From growing cat-repelling plants like rosemary or lemon thyme to spreading citrus peels or using a vinegar and water spray in your garden, there are several ways to keep your curious cat away from lavender plants.

Securing Essential Oils and Scented Products

Essential oils and scented products such as lavender oil should be stored in secure cabinets or shelves that are out of reach of cats. This includes securing residual oil that might be present on the outside of bottles.

When using scent diffusers or scented candles, place them in locations where cats are unable to knock them over or touch the oils or wax. And remember, even liquid potpourris containing essential oils can cause burns to a cat’s skin and mouth, so it’s best to avoid them altogether.

Understanding Labels and Chemical Products

When it comes to protecting our furry friends, knowledge is power. By reading labels on chemical products, you can determine their suitability for use around cats.

Products should be explicitly marked as safe for cats to ensure they do not contain harmful substances. Here are some tips to protect your cat’s health:

  • Avoid using products that contain essential oils, including lavender, as they can be toxic to cats.

  • Look for products that clearly state they are cat-safe.

  • Avoid using chemical products that do not have clear labeling indicating they are safe for cats.

The Role of Veterinary Guidance in Using Essential Oils

While we've covered the potential risks of lavender and the alternatives, it’s important to remember the crucial role of veterinary guidance when it comes to using essential oils on cats. Before introducing any essential oils, consult with a veterinarian, particularly if your cat has existing medical conditions or is on medication.

Veterinarians can provide guidance on the safe use of essential oils by recommending:

  • starting with a diluted solution

  • monitoring your pet for any adverse reactions

  • suggesting pet-specific essential oil products that are pre-diluted and designed to be safer for topical use on cats.

When to Seek Professional Advice

Even with the best precautions, accidents can happen. If your cat shows signs of distress or you suspect they’ve been exposed to lavender or any other potentially harmful substance, seek professional advice immediately.

Veterinarians can provide guidance on the safe use of essential oils, ensuring the ones chosen are safe and suitable for your cat’s specific health profile. After all, our feline friends depend on us to keep them safe, so don’t hesitate to seek professional advice when in doubt.

The ASPCA Poison Control Center Resource

When it comes to potential poisoning cases involving pets, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) is a valuable resource. This premier animal poison control center provides animal poison-related emergency services, available 24/7 for assistance with animals that have been exposed to potentially hazardous substances.

In addition to their emergency services, the ASPCA maintains a comprehensive database of toxic and non-toxic plants, which can be looked to protect the health your pet. So if you’re ever concerned about your pet’s exposure to lavender or any other potentially toxic substance, don’t hesitate to reach out to the ASPCA or your local vet for guidance.


As we journeyed through the world of lavender and its potential effects on cats, we’ve uncovered some surprising truths. While lavender’s calming scent may be a treat for our senses, it’s not so soothing for our feline companions. The essential oils it contains can cause a host of issues from skin irritation to liver damage, particularly if ingested or inhaled in large amounts.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are plenty of safe alternatives to lavender, from cat-friendly plants to pet-approved essential oils. With careful precautions and the right knowledge, we can create a calm and safe environment for our furry friends.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe for a cat to smell lavender?

Nope, lavender isn't a good idea for your feline friend. It can cause some uncomfortable effects, so it's best to keep it away from your cat.

Can cats be allergic to lavender?

Yes, cats can be allergic to lavender oil and pollen, so be cautious when using lavender around your cat.

Does lavender oil repel cats?

Yes, lavender oil can help repel cats due to its strong scent, but other essential oils like lime, peppermint, and eucalyptus can also do the trick. So, if you're not a fan of lavender, you have options to try!

Is lavender safe for pets?

No matter how much your furry friend may enjoy rolling in a lavender field, it's best to keep it away from them. Lavender contains linalool which can be toxic to pets, especially to cats and dogs. So, it's safer to keep your pets away from lavender products and plants.

What should I do if my cat ingests lavender?

Contact a vet right away and don't try to make the cat vomit. Stay calm, they'll guide you.

Join Our Mews-letter?