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Does Lavender Calm Cats? Is It Safe?

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	Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

Vet, MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cats that spend time outside have likely come across many different types of plants, flowers, and foliage during their adventures. Some of the scents that they smell can have effects on them, such as making them feel happy, excited, or relaxed. It’s said that lavender can help calm cats down and make them feel relaxed. Is there any truth to this? The short answer is yes! Lavender can have a calming effect on your kitty. However, lavender is toxic to cats (and dogs) when ingested. Here’s what you need to know.

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How Lavender Calms Us and Cats

Lavender affects cats much like it affects humans, even when it comes to the toxicity aspect. Lavender has the ability to calm the body without sedation. It’s thought that the scent of lavender positively affects the “flight or fight” response in our bodies and helps reduce the symptoms of anxiety. It can also help regulate the nervous system and normalize things like heart rate and adrenaline levels.

Why Lavender Is Toxic to Cats

a cat that feels sick and seems to vomit
Image Credit: chie hidaka, Shutterstock

The ASPCA indicates that lavender is toxic to cats and dogs when ingested. Signs and symptoms of toxicity in pets include nausea, vomiting, and a loss of appetite. The compounds in lavender can overload a cat’s organs (especially the liver) and can even result in respiratory problems. However, it’s important to keep in mind that your cat would have to eat quite a bit of lavender plant to experience any serious side effects.

Still, even a small amount that gets ingested can build up in the body, and if ingestion occurs more frequently as time goes on, it could lead to health problems for your kitty. The goal should be to keep your cat from consuming lavender plants whenever possible. Essential oils are much more concentrated and therefore pose a higher threat to your cat, they should not consume lavender oil.  However, if you catch your kitty nipping at lavender once or twice, you shouldn’t be alarmed unless toxicity symptoms surface.

How to Keep Your Cat Safe Around Lavender

While lavender is toxic to cats, that does not mean you must keep it out of your home. That said, not just pets can show symptoms of lavender poisoning. Humans can also show signs of toxicity when too much lavender is ingested (usually in the form of essential oils), and it can even lead to respiratory failure in young children. So, it’s a matter of keeping everyone in the household safe when lavender is around.

If you want to grow lavender plants inside your home, hang them in pots from the ceiling so your kids and cats can’t reach them but can still benefit from the scent. If you enjoy keeping potpourri that includes lavender, put it in a pot with a lid and other places where the cats and kids can’t find it. Grow catnip and other plants that are healthy for cats so they are more attracted to them than to your lavender. Chances are that your kitty won’t show much interest in munching on lavender in the first place.

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Final Thoughts

Lavender is a beautiful flower with a scent that may benefit us when it comes to problems like anxiety and stress. It seems that your cat can get those same benefits, as long as they don’t ingest the plant and especially not the oil. If your cat loves lavender and can’t stop munching on it, you can get rid of your plants (or put them outside) and instead use lotions and sprays to infuse the lavender scent in your home.

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Featured Image: Hans, Pixabay

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