Is lavender a safe plant for cats?

Sometimes you have read that lavender can have relaxing effects on cats, or that it is a miraculous repellent for fleas.

Some may even say that it is a well-proven cat repellent.

With all this conflicting information, it is difficult to know if lavender in cats works and why.

The lavender plant itself is not very toxic to your cat ; however, plant formulations can be. Your cat can eat a lot of lavender that you have in your garden and may just have an upset stomach, but on the other hand, lavender essential oil can be deadly for your pet due to its concentration.

Cat liver lacks several specific enzymes that help it safely process volatile compounds in essential oils, so these should be kept away from your cat.

In this article I will try to answer the most important question; Is lavender safe for cats?

What is lavender?

The Lavandula genus contains 60 different species, native to the Mediterranean region and some parts of Asia.

The most common species is  Lavandula angustifolia. These plants have been used since ancient times as ornamentals and to obtain flavoring and flavoring essences .  

An essential oil can be obtained from it. Essential oils are highly concentrated oils distilled from plants for use in oil burners, to scent candles and beauty products, and as natural remedies.

Lavender essential oils can treat:

  • Soothes skin irritation and insect bites.
  • Wound healing.
  • Sleep aid.

Lavender has also been an   important  ingredient in soap making and in bath water to wash and purify the skin. In fact, the word lavender comes from the Latin ”  lavare  ” which means “to wash”. The flower has a sweet and slightly musky aroma.

The only insects that seem to tolerate lavender are butterflies and bees, the two insects you really need in your garden.

Because lavender is so widespread and smells so pleasant, some pet owners might think it would be good for their cat. The truth is that it really isn’t. While a bite or two of a lavender plant can’t harm your cat, a large amount can, especially when it comes to the concentrated form of lavender oil .


Lavender and its possible toxicity to cats

According to the   ASPCA , lavender is toxic to cats. Fortunately, it is only slightly toxic. Excessive consumption  of the plant cannot cause death, but your cat may suffer nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.

Lavender contains more than 150 compounds, including camphor,  linalool,  and  linalyl acetate  that are toxic to cats. In no case should you let your cat lick the lavender essential oil.

A cat’s liver lacks the liver enzyme glucuronyltransferase, taking  longer to clear toxins from the body, and making it unable to break down chemicals in essential oils.

If you have lavender oil in diffuser form,  put it where you can’t reach it. Inhaling lavender oil diffusely won’t harm your cat, but keep the room ventilated and make sure she can leave the room in case she encounters the unpleasant odor.

How does lavender poisoning occur?

Lavender toxicity can occur in the following ways:

  • Ingestion of any part of the lavender plant.
  • Inhalation of essential oils used in an oil burner.
  • Dermal absorption, inhalation and ingestion of essential oils applied to the skin. While the fur serves to protect the cat’s body from the outside world, anything that is put on the fur is absorbed into the body or can be ingested when the cat licks itself.

In addition to toxicity, lavender essential oils can also irritate the cat’s skin and the delicate mucous membranes in the mouth, causing contact dermatitis and mouth ulcers.

Symptoms of Lavender Poisoning in Cats

If your cat has found a lavender plant and ingested a large amount, you may notice the following symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting

A cat’s fur is delicate and thin, so rubbing in a “calming” mixture of lavender oil that has not been properly diluted can lead to:

  • Redness on the skin.
  • Chemical burns

Direct ingestion of these lavender oils can cause:

  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Difficult breathing
  • Uncoordinated gait.
  • Lethargy and weakness.
  • Muscle tremors

Redness and / or burns on the lips, skin, gums, and tongue.

Treatment of lavender poisoning

If you’ve applied lavender oil to your skin or hair, bathe your cat in warm water and dish soap (the kind you use in the sink, not the dishwasher).

If your cat has ingested lavender, do not induce vomiting unless directed by a vet.

Treatment will depend on the severity of the symptoms:

  • Gastric decontamination:If the cat has recently ingested lavender or a product containing lavender, it is possible to induce vomiting followed by the administration of activated charcoal to prevent further absorption.
  • Fluid therapy:to correct dehydration and increase urinary toxin excretion.
  • Anti-Nausea Medications –To control vomiting.


Lavender, while not a very toxic substance, is not really something your cat needs. The essential oil in particular should be kept away from your pet. It is an effective and natural repellent against fleas, but it should probably be applied to carpets and furniture rather than to a cat.

Lavender scents may or may not help your cat relax. Natural doesn’t always mean safe, so check with your vet. There are many other natural options to explore. Find one that suits both you and your cat.




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