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Do Cats Like Eucalyptus Scent? What You Should Know!

Cats have an acute sense of smell that they rely on for communication and to gather information about their surroundings. It’s no secret that cats are biased toward certain smells, like their food and the rotisserie chicken that’s about to be served for dinner.

They are also known for being drawn to the smells of certain plants, especially catnip. If they can favor certain smells, what about the scent of eucalyptus? It’s common for the humans in the household to use eucalyptus scent, especially during cold and flu season, but cats strongly dislike the smell of eucalyptus.

Cats do not like the scent of eucalyptus. Not only is eucalyptus a deterrent for cats but it’s also toxic and poses a danger to our feline friends. Keep reading to learn more about eucalyptus and the effects it has on cats.

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What Is Eucalyptus?

eucalyptus
Image Credit: Chesna, Pixabay

Eucalyptus may be best known for being the primary food source for koalas. Eucalyptus is a genus of fast-growing evergreen trees and shrubs and nearly all species are native to Australia. The fragrant eucalyptus leaves have been used in traditional medicine practices for many years and across various cultures.

Not only are the leaves still used for medicinal and healing purposes, but eucalyptus is also used as a fragrance, flavoring, and an ingredient in various cosmetics and industrial solvents. Eucalyptus oil has been studied and proven to kill bacteria, certain viruses, and fungi and has also been shown to act as an expectorant that loosens phlegm and assists with coughing.

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The Dangers of Eucalyptus for Cats

sick cat vomiting the food
Image Credit: Tom Wang, Shutterstock

Humans and cats have very different systems and though eucalyptus has an abundance of health benefits for humans, it is dangerous for cats. The toxic component in the leaves is eucalyptol. Exposure often occurs through ingestion of eucalyptus essential oil or products containing the essential oil.

The leaves of the plant are also toxic if ingested, but exposure is rare because eucalyptus is hardly ever grown indoors. Thankfully, cats are heavily deterred by the smell of eucalyptus but if for any reason they were to ingest the leaves or any product containing the oil, you should contact your veterinarian or pet poison helpline right away for further guidance.

Signs of Eucalyptus Toxicity:
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive salivation
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Unsteady gait
  • Tremors
  • Seizures

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Common Essential Oils That Are Dangerous for Cats

Any questions regarding the safety of essential oil use should be discussed with your veterinarian. You can also access the ASPCA’s list of toxic and non-toxic plants to see which plants pose a danger of toxicity to your pets.

tea tree essential oil
Image Credit: ronstik, Shutterstock

Though oils derived from toxic plants are incredibly dangerous, essential oils from non-toxic plants are highly concentrated and can also pose a health risk. We’ve included a list of the most common essential oils that are potentially dangerous to cats:

We’ve included a list of the most common essential oils that are potentially dangerous to cats:
  • Basil oil
  • Bergamot oil
  • Bitter almond oil
  • Cinnamon oil
  • Clary sage oil
  • Clove leaf oil
  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Geranium oil
  • Juniper oil
  • Lavender oil
  • Lemon oil
  • Lemongrass oil
  • Lime oil
  • Myrrh oil
  • Nutmeg oil
  • Orange oil
  • Oregano oil
  • Pennyroyal oil
  • Peppermint oil
  • Pine oil
  • Rose oil
  • Rosemary oil
  • Sandalwood oil
  • Sassafras oil
  • Spearmint oil
  • Sweet birch oil
  • Tarragon oil
  • Tea tree oil
  • Thyme oil
  • Wintergreen oil
  • Wormwood oil
  • Ylang ylang oil

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Keeping Your Cat Safe

It’s very important to keep your cat safe from the dangers of eucalyptus and other essential oils. Not only are they at risk of toxicity but also respiratory problems associated with inhalation when exposed to oil diffusers.

Here are some tips for keeping your cat safe from exposure to plant and oil toxicity
  • If you have houseplants, make sure they are non-toxic to cats and any other pets in the household. If you have any toxic plants, either remove them from the home or place them in an area that is off-limits to your cat.
  • If you use essential oil diffusers, use only pet-safe oils from reputable brands and dilute them appropriately. Limit the use of oil diffusers as much as possible.
  • Keep all essential oil bottles and diffusers out of reach of your cat. Also, make sure to keep any products containing essential oils securely shut and safely stored away.
  • Only use passive diffusers in rooms where your cat can easily get away, or limit access to that room altogether during use. Never use active diffusers in the room with your cat.
  • Avoid using highly concentrated oils or combining different oils, and do not purchase products that do not advise of their concentration.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about any concerns you have regarding the use of household products and the safety risks they pose to any pets in your home.

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Conclusion

Eucalyptus is not only a very unpleasant smell for cats, but it is also considered toxic. Eucalyptol is the toxic component found in the leaves of the plant and ingestion could lead to some troubling clinical signs. If your cat were to ingest any eucalyptus-containing products, you should contact your veterinarian right away for further guidance. It’s a good idea to keep all things eucalyptus away from your cat; they will certainly appreciate it.

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Featured Image Credit: abeldomi, Pixabay

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