Is Eucalyptus Safe To Have Around Cats?

Here's what you should know before keeping it in the house 🌿

cat with leaves and question marks

If you’re thinking of sprucing up your home or workspace, an easy way to do that is to add a pretty bouquet of flowers to a table or desk — but, if you're a cat parent, you’ll have to watch out for flowers that are poisonous to cats. And a common addition to lots of bouquets is eucalyptus, which is toxic to cats.

We spoke with Dr. Cristina Bustamante, an associate veterinarian with Caring Hands Animal Hospital in Florida and founder of Dr. B Vet, to find out everything you need to know about eucalyptus and cats.

Is eucalyptus safe for cats?

While you might like the smell, eucalyptus isn’t safe to keep around cats — whether it’s dried or fresh.

“Eucalyptus is poisonous to cats,” Dr. Bustamante told The Dodo. “Cats are not able to metabolize chemicals found in the plant; therefore, those chemicals can damage your cat’s internal organs.”

Signs of eucalyptus poisoning in cats include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Tremors
  • Drooling

This even extends to eucalyptus oil, which can cause irritation in your cat’s mouth or on her skin as well, Dr. Bustamante said.

So basically, if you have a product that contains eucalyptus in any form, you should keep it far away from your cat (or ideally not keep it in your home at all).

If you know your cat has eaten some eucalyptus or has been exposed to the oil, call your vet ASAP.

While symptoms of eucalyptus poisoning can show up shortly after being exposed, they can also take several hours to develop, so don’t assume your cat is OK just because he doesn’t have any symptoms. (And in most cases of cat poisoning, early treatment leads to a better outcome.)

“There are also very helpful 24-hour poison hotlines, such as the ASPCA Poison Control [at] (888) 426-4435 and Pet Poison Helpline [at] (855) 764-7661, that can help you and your veterinarian best care for your pet when they have been exposed to toxins,” Dr. Bustamante said.

Treatment for eucalyptus poisoning in cats

If your cat got eucalyptus oil on her fur or skin, your vet will first wash it off to avoid irritation and to make sure your cat doesn’t ingest it while grooming.

“Take the packaging of the toxin with you when you take your pet to the vet, since this can help with the treatment and diagnosis,” Dr. Bustamante said.

If your cat ate eucalyptus, your vet will take some other steps to treat her, too.

“[The vet] will treat the symptoms by giving them supportive care, such as stomach protectants, medications for nausea and intravenous hydration,” Dr. Bustamante said. “We also recommend performing blood tests to evaluate organ function [to see] if these have been compromised by the ingestion.”

So, if you’re going to have eucalyptus oil or plants in your house, just keep them all far away from your cat (though it might be a better idea not to bring them in your house at all)!