In this article we’ll look at this essential oil and it’s supposed benefits for our pets. Why do people use lavender oil for cats? Lavender oil has been used in medicine and aromatherapy for years, with varying degrees of success. Its treatment of anxiety in humans has been the focus of numerous studies and trials. One recent study showed a lavender oil derived capsule to be very effective in treating generalized anxiety disorder, when taken orally. When something works for us, we’d like to think it will work for our cats. After all, it’s only natural to think what’s good for us is good for them.
It doesn’t always work like this, however. Cats often deal with substances and chemicals in a different way to us. We’ll explore this a little later, when we look at whether we can safely give cats lavender oil. But first let’s look at why we might want to. Aromatherapy is the practice of diffusing and inhaling essential oils. Proponents claim it can have a wide range of benefits, but it’s normally focused on people.
Essential oils, in an aromatherapy context, have shown a limited effectiveness in relaxing rats in trials. It is important to keep in mind no tests have been carried out with cats to determine lavender oils safety or efficacy when diffused. Is lavender oil safe for cats? Safe to inhale as a mist? All of these can have different answers. We’ll look first at the effects of oral consumption. The ASPCA lists lavender plants as toxic to cats.
Symptoms of lavender poisoning include nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite. These are not things any of us want to inflict on our furry friends. The reason lavender has this effect is the chemical linalool. Linalool can make up as much as 49. This dangerous concentration of linalool only becomes more of a risk when the lavender is presented in oil form. Around 220 pounds of lavender are used to make one pound of oil. Needless to say, nobody should be feeding their cats lavender essential oil.
So lavender oil is definitely not safe for cats to ingest, and there is no evidence to support the many claims of its calming effects. But could it be useful in another way? Most prominently, lavender oil has been suggested as a flea repellant, with numerous products labelling themselves a safe alternative to current pesticides. Is lavender oil safe for cats to use on fleas? Lets take a look at why lavender oil and cats might not be a match made in heaven. Interestingly, the same chemical that makes lavender oil potentially dangerous to your cat could make it a potent flea poison.
Linalool is not only toxic to cats, but in the right concentration effectively kills pests. A study published in the journal of medical entomology showed its ability to kill all life stages of fleas and ticks. This makes it possible that after coming into contact with lavender oil, cats fleas might be effectively controlled. Linalool solutions have been used in tests to successfully treat cats with fleas. The cats involved exhibited no adverse effects afterwards. When it comes to home blended or unregulated lavender oil, cats might not be so lucky.
This is because lavender oil is not consistent. From batch to batch it can differ hugely in composition. So finding the right concentration of linalool in a domestic setting would be almost impossible, not to mention dangerous. It may be tempting to use lavender oil as you might do a normal flea treatment. These are potentially harmful, but with the correct placement are usually okay to use. The real problem is that commercial products are carefully controlled. Your homemade dilution of lavender oil will not be. There is no real way of knowing just how much linalool is on your cat with lavender oil. Using lavender oil on cats for fleas domestically is therefore a possibility, but not advisable. Solutions containing linalool are currently in use as commercial pesticides. But they are treated with caution, and the subject of strict safety protocols. Linalool, and therefore lavender oil, has a demonstrated effect on fleas and ticks.