You’re settling in for a quiet evening at home, a wonderful novel to read, with kitty curled comfortably on your lap. The only thing that could make this evening more perfect is a diffuser with a lovely blend of healthy, fragrant essential oils, right? In kitty’s mind, the answer is NO! Many times I’m asked about the use of essential oils in and on cats. Although I remain steadfast in my convictions, many feel this is a safe and effective treatment for their beloved pet. It is not! Essential oils are not only dangerous for cats, but can be deadly. Many veterinarians will tell you that ANY essential oil usage for cats is strictly contraindicated. Essential oils are very powerful, highly concentrated substances that should be treated with respect. Essential oils consist of hydrocarbons in the form of mono- and sesquiterpenes and oxygenated compounds in the form of phenols, alcohols, esters, and ketones. These chemicals act in various ways in the body, stimulating or calming, antiviral or antibacterial. They are readily absorbed and metabolized and can be found in the heart, lung and brain tissue within 10 seconds of inhalation; in every cell within 20 minutes. Generally speaking, the entire “physical” essence of the oil is removed from our body within 24 hours, with the spiritual healing energy staying with us for up to 6 months. Humans, horses and dogs have livers that easily accomplish this process. Cats, however, lack the liver enzyme that allows elimination of these substances; subsequently, these oils can take up to 48 hours to process, causing toxicity. Toxicity can come on slowly without immediately visible symptoms and cause life-threatening damage to your animal. A common mistake is to apply Aromatherapy meant for humans to their animals. It cannot be stressed enough that essential oils should not be used topically or orally on cats. Some so-called Aromatherapy companies recommend the extremely dangerous use of undiluted oils, some highly irritating. They promote the use of these oils not only topically, but also through highly inappropriate routes such as eyes and ears, even orally, while making medical claims in order to sell their product. This is irresponsible, dangerous, even deadly. On an animal, this type of application can only have serious repercussions. Cats are affected by inhalation just as humans are, and strict precautions must be followed when diffusing oils in our home. If you choose to diffuse oils near kitty, make certain adequate air circulation and confine kitty to a non-diffusion area, wait at least 48 hours between diffusions, and be sure that any oils diffused are in the lower volatility levels. Remember, we humans have adapted over the years to all the aromas that assault us on a daily basis. We can quickly become desensitized to an aroma in our home, causing us to “freshen” the scent more often, which can be fatal to kitty. To ensure safety, leave the diffused area for 5-10 minutes, then return to test the strength of the scent. If you still think it needs freshening up, remember that kitty has a much stronger sense of smell and more olfactory receptors than you do, and think twice before adding additional oils. To err on the side of safety seems preferable to finding out down the road that you have caused a serious health problem to your animal friend. For safety’s sake, I find that it is easier, better and safer not to use, utilize or store essential oils where there are cats.