Is lavendar safe for cats?

Is Lavender Safe for Cats? (Key Considerations)

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Our cats rule the roost in my house and can get into pretty much anything. As a result, it’s always good to know which things are and aren’t safe for them. It can be a stressful experience if your cat gets into something you’re not sure about, since you want to make sure your pup is going to be OK.

For that reason, this post is dedicated to helping you answer the question:

Do I need to take my cat to the vet?

We asked our veterinary advisor Dr. Jamie Whittenburg to offer some general tips for what to do when your pet gets into something they shouldn’t (or that you’re not sure about), and will give you all the information you need about lavender and your cat.

Is Lavender Safe For Cats? 

  The short answer is no, lavender is not safe for cats. The ASPCA classifies lavender as a toxic herb for several pets, including cats, dogs, and even horses. The primary issue facing cats regarding lavender is ingestion. 

Lavender is a common additive in calming lotions, body washes, and bath bombs because it has proven anti-anxiety properties for humans. In addition, lavender has become a trendy ingredient for upscale baked goods and ice creams because of its aromatic properties. 

However, with so many products containing lavender, it’s important to know whether this calming herb is safe for our furry friends. Read on to find out about the links between cats and lavender, including whether it is safe for cats to eat, breathe, or smell lavender. 

Is Lavender Safe For Cats To Eat?

No, lavender is absolutely not safe for cats to eat. Suppose you find that your cat has ingested any lavender, whether it is from a plant, a food item containing lavender, or essential oil. In that case, you should contact your vet immediately, monitor your cat for signs of poisoning, and take your cat to an emergency vet if necessary. 

Lavender contains linalool and linalyl acetate. In humans, these compounds can reduce anxiety if ingested. However, these chemical compounds are highly toxic to cats if ingested. Signs of lavender poisoning in cats include vomiting, nausea, and a lowered appetite. 

If you have cats and want to grow a lavender plant, consider growing it outside or in a space where you can ensure your cat will not have access to it. 

Is Lavender Safe For Cats To Smell/Breathe?

Cats can technically smell lavender safely, but lavender that can be inhaled through the cat’s respiratory system is not safe. Many people use lavender essential oil in aromatherapy diffusers. These diffusers release a mixture of essential oil and water as a vapor, which can enter the respiratory system. 

If you have a cat, avoid using lavender essential oil or essential oil blends that include lavender in a diffuser. Candles with lavender scents are safe because the chemical compounds don’t enter the respiratory system directly. 

Is Lavender Essential Oil Safe For Cats?

No, lavender essential oil is not safe for cats, and veterinarians consider it the method with the highest potential to poison a cat. This is because essential oil is a highly concentrated solution, so the amount a cat would need to ingest to get sick is far lower than a plant or food item. 

If you use lavender essential oil (for a diffuser, massage oil, etc.), ensure it is kept in a safe and secure place that your cat does not have access to. 

What is Lavender Oil?

Lavender oil is an essential oil derived from the lavender plant. It has a wide range of uses, from aromatherapy to skin care. Lavender oil is thought to have many benefits, including reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation.

Lavender oil is also said to help with insomnia and other sleep disorders. In addition, lavender oil may have antimicrobial properties, which means it could help reduce acne and other skin conditions.

Is Lavender Plant Safe For Cats?

Lavender plants are unsafe for cats if the cat can ingest the plant. Even just licking the plant can cause gastrointestinal distress in a cat. Many people use dried lavender plants as a decorative, pleasant-smelling item. These plants are only okay if your cat either shows no interest in licking or eating the plant or if the plant is in a secure place that your cat cannot reach. 

This is a good overview video from veterinarian Dr. Andrew Jones on essential oils in general and how you should think about them as it regards your cat:

Tips from Our Vets

It is normal to be concerned whenever your dog or cat gets into something they should not have. Dogs particularly tend to eat things with little to no regard for edibility. Because so many things can be toxic to pets, even some that are perfectly safe for humans, it can be hard to know what to do. Here are three key steps to take first:

  1. The first thing you must do if your dog or cat ate or were exposed to something that they should not have is to determine how much of the substance they actually ingested.
  2. Save labels or take pictures so that you are able to show the ingredients to your pet’s veterinarian.
  3. Your veterinarian should be the first point of contact in the case of such an event. Call the nearest emergency veterinary hospital if it is outside of normal business hours.

Please follow the advice of your veterinarian. If your dog has ingested something toxic, they must immediately be taken to a hospital or clinic for treatment. If your veterinarian does not recommend seeing your pet right away, you should observe them carefully for any signs of illness. Things to be on the lookout for include:

  1. Vomiting – Your dog may vomit from simple gastrointestinal distress after eating something other than their dog or cat food. However, intractable or repeated vomiting can signal a toxin ingestion or another serious issue like gastric dilation volvulus. These conditions are life threatening and require emergency treatment right away.
  2. Lethargy – If your dog is acting oddly, or “not themselves,” it is a clue that the ingestion might be serious. Veterinary care should be sought as soon as possible.
  3. Hypersalivation – Excessive drooling may signal a toxin exposure or an injury to the mouth. It can also be a sign of nausea. If your dog or cat is in hypersalivation, you should reach out to their veterinarian.
  4. Weakness – If your dog or cat appears to be weak, is stumbling, or has difficulty walking, the likelihood of a toxin ingestion is higher. This is a sign that your dog requires veterinary care.
  5. Seizures – Twitching, rapid leg or eye movements, and convulsions are all signs that something is wrong. These abnormal movements may be due to a toxin or another issue that the dog is experiencing.
  6. Dribbling urine – Leaking urine is often seen in cases of marijuana toxicity. Dogs or cats exhibiting this sign should be taken to the nearest veterinary clinic for treatment.

If you are unable to reach your veterinarian, a great resource for help is the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. The APCC is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can reach them at (888) 426-4435. There is a one-time $75 fee for this service.

Final Thoughts

Is lavender safe for cats? No, lavender is not safe for cats.

  1. Lavender contains the chemicals linalool and linalyl acetate which are highly toxic to cats.
  2. If cats eat lavender they will show signs of poisoning such as vomits and nausea.
  3. Cats smelling lavender shouldn’t be a problem, but it’s best to avoid it.
  4. Lavender essential oil is the most dangerous form for cats and must be avoided at all times.
  5. If cats lick or eat lavender plants it will cause digestive issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

Additional Resources

Our writing staff and team of veterinarians have dedicated a ton of time and energy to bringing you the best information possible about household products and food to help make sure your pets are safe.

You can check out our giant guide to human foods dogs can and can not eat, and we’ve created guides on whether over 40 human foods are safe for dogs to eat.

We’ve also created a series of posts on what household products are and aren’t safe for your pet, including:

Pet News Daily Staff
Pet News Daily writers are experts in pet care, health and behavior. We are members of Society for Professional Journalists and practice ethical journalism.