Is Lemongrass Essential Oil Safe for Cats?

By Phil / July 29, 2017
Is Lemongrass Essential Oil Safe for Cats

If you like using essentials oils and have a cat in your home you need to be sure that you’re not exposing your kitty to any potentially harmful substances.

In this article, I’m looking at one of my personal favorite oils, lemongrass.

So, is lemongrass essential oil safe for cats?

There is some conflicting information around the use of lemongrass. This is largely because cats will eat lemongrass as a plant, and the oil is used to kill fleas on some other animals like dogs.

The essential oil however is far too strong to use around cats in its concentrated form. If they ingest the oil it’s potentially fatal, and diffusing it or using it any other way around them can also cause sickness.

This is mainly because cats do not have the liver enzyme required to break down oils like we do.

So exposure to the oil over time means their livers collect more and more of the properties of the oil and this eventually results in liver failure among other problems.

What Is Lemongrass Essential Oil?

Lemongrass plants are native to tropical areas and doesn’t look too dissimilar to normal grass. It’s a little longer and has a brighter green color.

It does however have a very strong aroma and taste. It’s commonly used to flavor dishes, such as curries and soups.

The essential oil is extracted from the leaves of the plant. It’s used in aromatherapy to help relieve muscle pain, kill bacteria, repel insects, soothe aches and pains, and ease digestive issues.

Why Is Lemongrass Essential Oil Toxic to Cats?

Not all essential oils are toxic to cats. However, a cat’s liver functions very differently to ours when it comes to detoxifying and processing essential oils.

Oils containing polyphenolic compounds, like lemongrass, are the oils that their livers cannot break down.

If you’re in doubt of an oil you’re using read the label or do some research to see if it contains polyphenolic compounds. If it does, avoid allowing your cat to come into contact with the oil.

Symptoms of Essential Oil Poisoning in Cats

If you think your cat has been exposed to any harmful oils you should take them to the vets right away. Take the oil with you so they know exactly what they are treating.

Symptoms of essential oil poisoning include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Muscle tremors or spasms
  • Uncontrollable drooling
  • Redness around their eyes, mouth, or nose
  • Lethargic behavior
  • Pawing at their face