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Is Incense Safe for Cats? What You Should Know!

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	Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

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

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Incense can help improve focus and relaxation while reducing tension, anxiety, and insomnia. It is often used in meditation and yoga due to the sense of calm it produces. But what effect does it have on our cats? Is it even safe for them?

Unfortunately, incense is not safe for cats due to the smoke it produces. Smoke inhalation is extremely bad for cats, and too much exposure can lead to disastrous health consequences. Cats have a much better sense of smell than humans, and any scent from incense may overwhelm their senses.

To learn about which scents and diffusers should be avoided and how to keep your cat safe, take a look at our guide below.


What Else to Avoid

Incense is not the only scent that is problematic for cats. Plenty of other substances can cause adverse reactions in your cat.

1. Scented Candles

Much like incense, the smoke and scent from a scented candle may be overpowering for your cat. This is especially true if your cat already suffers from respiratory issues like asthma. If your cat has lung issues and you notice that they are experiencing more flare-ups when candles are lit, they should be avoided in the home.

Other signs that your pet may be sensitive to candles include coughing, sneezing, irritated skin, and runny eyes and noses. Disregarding the scent and smoke, candles can also be dangerous if your cat can reach them. If your cat can knock the candle from its perch, it could start a fire.

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2. Essential Oils

citrus essential oil
Image Credit: DariaHurst34, Pixabay

Essential oils should be avoided. Not only can the essential oil diffusers exacerbate any respiratory issues that your cat may already have, but the oils can also threaten your cat’s health and safety.

Many essential oils are toxic to cats and contain chemicals that can only be processed with enzymes that cats lack. These chemicals are processed through the liver, but since your cat cannot adequately process them, it can lead to poisoning. Even a single lick or a small drop on the skin could be enough to cause problems for your cat.

If you believe your cat may have come into contact with essential oils, reach out to your local pet poisoning helpline immediately.

Watch for signs of essential oil poisoning

  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Decreased body temperature
  • Lacking coordination
  • Tremors
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Redness of the mouth
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Fragrance on fur, skin, or breath
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3. Air Fresheners


How to Safely Enjoy Incense

If incense is an integral part of managing your anxiety or insomnia, there are ways that you can use it safely without putting your cat’s well-being at risk.

When burning incense, open windows in the room. Ventilation is vital to ensure that your cat is not inhaling any smoke. Likewise, keep your cat out of the room where the incense is burning.  Once you are done burning incense, store it in a secure location where your cat cannot access it.

Consider an Alternative

A potential alternative that requires relatively little monitoring is an air purifier. Air purifiers can even be beneficial for your pet, as they work to make the air safer and more breathable for both you and your cat.

The main concern with air purifiers is how they are manufactured. If they have a cord to plug into the wall, your pet could get tangled up and have the air purifier fall on them. The sound the air purifier makes may also be distressing to your cat. However, there are workarounds for this, such as placing the air purifier somewhere your cat cannot reach or keeping it in a room your cat does not have access to.

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Although incense is not safe for cats, there are ways to enjoy it without putting your feline friend in danger. Essential oils and air fresheners should also be used cautiously, while air purifiers may be the perfect alternative. With anything you introduce into your cat’s environment, monitor them for any negative side effects and reach out to your vet for any concerns you may have.

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Featured Image Credit: Denis Oliveira, Unsplash