Is Lavender Safe For My Cat?

What you should know before buying that diffuser 🌿

lavender safe for cats

The scent of lavender can be super relaxing. But should you be worried about having it around your cat?

It turns out lavender is actually toxic for cats, so your BFF should steer clear.

The Dodo spoke with Dr. Megan Conrad, a veterinary consultant for Hello Ralphie, to find out why exactly lavender isn’t safe for cats.

Is lavender toxic to cats?

Lavender is mildly toxic to cats, which means it’s not typically fatal.

“The toxic compounds found in the pretty purple-flowered plant are called linalool and linalyl acetate, which cats' livers are unable to process,” Dr. Conrad told The Dodo.

Lavender can cause liver damage in cats, but your cat would need to eat a ton for that to happen. In most cases, cats only eat enough to cause a belly ache — but that doesn’t mean it’s safe to keep around.

“Despite the plant not being severely toxic, better to play it safe and keep it out of your cat's reach,” Dr. Conrad said. “Even just an upset stomach is not fun.”

Signs of lavender toxicity in cats

Lavender toxicity can cause gastrointestinal (GI) problems for your cat.

“If your cat eats enough of a lavender plant or flowers, they can experience GI upset,” Dr. Conrad said.

Signs of lavender toxicity include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite

If you notice symptoms like these, or any other unusual symptoms, you should give your vet a call. They can help you figure out what sort of treatment your cat might need.

Treating lavender toxicity in cats

Treating your cat’s lavender toxicity won’t always involve the same approach, since what your cat will need will be based on what his symptoms are like.

“The treatment given will depend on your cat’s symptoms and could include supportive care such as IV fluids, stomach-coating or anti-nausea medications, and assisting your cat to eat if their mouth has been irritated,” Dr. Conrad said.

Is lavender oil safe for cats?

Lavender oil is even worse for your cat than the plant itself.

“As for lavender essential oil, as this is a much more concentrated form of the ingredients found in the plant, it can carry a higher risk of making your cat sick,” Dr. Conrad said. “It's also easily and quickly absorbed into the cat's system via their skin or from them grooming and ingesting it.”

Even a lavender oil diffuser could cause trouble, particularly if your cat has asthma or other breathing problems.

“Cats with respiratory issues can possibly have their symptoms worsened by inhaling lavender (or other essential oils) that are diffused into their environment,” Dr. Conrad said.

The way lavender oil affects your cat will depend on how concentrated it is and how much gets into his system, either through ingestion or absorption.

“Symptoms can range from mild GI upset or mouth irritation to potential liver damage,” Dr. Conrad said.

The bottom line is, while you might find it to be pretty soothing, lavender can cause some issues for your cat. So it’s best to avoid it in any form in your home.

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