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Is Eucalyptus Poisonous to Cats? Common Houseplants Examined

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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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Eucalyptus is poisonous to cats in high amounts. When it is concentrated into an oil, it is especially toxic. You should not defuse it if you own a cat, as the oils can be toxic when your cat inhales them. Even a small amount can cause problems, so defusing it in a different room isn’t an option, either. There are several other types of essential oils that are also poisonous to cats, including tea tree oil, cinnamon, and peppermint.

However, when kept as a plant, eucalyptus isn’t extremely toxic. It only becomes a serious problem when it is concentrated in oil. Still, you probably don’t want your cat eating large pieces of your plant. Eucalyptus isn’t the safest plant to have around cats, but the plant is much safer than the oil.

Cats are not able to metabolize the chemicals found in this plant, eucalyptol. Therefore, if they eat too much of it, they will get sick.

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What Happens if a Cat Eats Eucalyptus?

If a cat eats too much eucalyptus, there are several problems that may occur. Firstly, your feline may start to salivate more than normal. This is the body’s way to try and clear toxins from your cat’s mouth and throat. Usually, these are the first symptoms and may be the only symptom if your cat hasn’t consumed very much.

Vomiting and diarrhea are usually next. These symptoms occur due to the stomach upset the plant causes. Plus, they also help to remove the toxins from your cat’s digestive tract. Therefore, this is another way the body attempts to protect itself, as well.

If your cat eats a lot, then neurological symptoms may begin to occur. It is estimated that they would need to eat around 70 leaves per 2 lbs of body weight as a lethal dose. It is highly unlikely a cat will eat anywhere near this number of leaves. Essential oils are around 10 times more potent than the leaves.

Confusion is the first neurological symptom to appear. Your cat may simply not seem like themselves. They may walk around aimlessly, become more vocal, or pace. Some cats begin to lose their motor functions. Not necessarily because their body can’t do those things, but because the processing speed is a bit slower. Therefore, they may be unable to jump or climb efficiently.

In very serious cases, seizures may occur. These can permanently harm your cat’s brain and you should ideally have your cat at the vet before seizures occur. Preferably, as soon as your cat starts to have diarrhea or vomiting, you should contact your vet for further instructions.

Can I Have Eucalyptus in My Shower if I Have a Cat?

cat in the bathroom
Image Credit: Mathilde Langevin, Unsplash

Eucalyptus essential oil is extremely toxic to cats and it is not a good idea to have it around if you have a feline. Even if you use this oil in a different room, it can potentially harm your cat by simply moving through the air.

As you’d guess, these essential oils are extremely good at moving through the air, which is often why they are diffused. Even if you only use it in the shower, your cat may inhale some of the particles in a different room. Plus, when you open the door, the oils will start to diffuse throughout your home at a higher rate.

Based on this information, it is generally best to skip the essential oils if you have a cat.

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Are Cats Attracted to Eucalyptus?

Generally, cats are not drawn to eucalyptus plants. In fact, they typically try to avoid the smell. However, that doesn’t mean that all cats will automatically avoid this plant. You can’t rely on this instinct to keep your cat safe if you have a eucalyptus tree.

Also, you should not use these plants or their oil to deter cats from certain locations. Because this tree is toxic, there is always the chance that a cat will consume or lick them, leading to serious symptoms or even death.

Can You Burn Eucalyptus Leaves Around Cats?

essential oil in beautiful bottles
Image Credit: Nikolaeva Galina, Shutterstock

No. The oils given off when the leaves are burned are toxic to cats. If your cat inhales them, then there is a significant chance that they will experience minor symptoms, at the very least. In the worst-case scenario, your cat could experience serious symptoms, eventually leading to death if it goes untreated.

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Is It Okay for Cats to Smell Eucalyptus?

No. The scent from a eucalyptus plant comes from the plant’s oils, which are airborne if the scent is traveling through the air. If your cat inhales these oils, it may begin to experience negative symptoms. Therefore, we don’t recommend allowing your cat to smell these plants.

Your cat shouldn’t smell the oils of this plant or the plant itself. Both of these substances are toxic. While deaths are rare, they can occur, especially if your cat is already sickly or sensitive to this plant.

Which Essential Oil is Toxic to Cats?

There are many essential oils that are toxic to cats. Essential oils are extremely concentrated and so if the plant they come from is toxic to cats, then the essential oil made from the plant will be too. In fact, even if the plant is only mildly toxic to cats, if you concentrate it into an essential oil, it will likely become highly toxic to cats.

For these reasons, you have to be extremely careful regarding what essential oils you use in your home. Many different essential oils are toxic to felines, and many of these are quite popular.

Here is a short list of essential oils that are very toxic to cats. Keep in mind that this isn’t a comprehensive list. There are some less popular oils that are toxic, as well.

  • Eucalyptus
  • Tea Tree
  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus
  • Peppermint
  • Pine
  • Wintergreen
  • Ylang Ylang

These oils should not be used in homes with cats. You shouldn’t use them on yourself or to diffuse in your home. Even a small amount can harm your cat, so we don’t recommend using them at all, even if it is in another room.

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Conclusion

Eucalyptus is toxic to cats. While deaths from this oil are rare, they can occur. Too much eucalyptol can lead to seizures and neurological damage, which can eventually lead to death. Therefore, we don’t recommend keeping eucalyptus plants in your home if you have cats. Furthermore, you should avoid using the essential oil, too.

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Featured Image Credit: Chesna, Pixabay

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