Many pet owners are starting to wonder if they can use lavender essential oil for fleas on cats.
Lavender essential oil contains a chemical called linalool, which can be toxic to fleas and ticks. But, it also poses risks to cats.
In fact, the ASPCA lists lavender plants as toxic to cats.
With all this conflicting information, it’s difficult to know what works and why. So, let’s take a closer look at how safe it is to use lavender essential oil for fleas on cats.
Lavender Essential Oil for Fleas on Cats – Quick Links
- What is lavender essential oil?
- Why do people use lavender essential oil on cats?
- Fleas on cats
- Does lavender oil get rid of fleas on cats?
- How does lavender oil deal with fleas on cats?
- Is lavender essential oil safe for cats?
- Is lavender essential oil toxic to cats?
- How do you use lavender essential oil for fleas on cats?
- Do other essential oils get rid of fleas on cats?
- Other methods for getting rid of fleas
Recently, people have been interested in the possibility of using lavender oil on cats.
What is Lavender Essential Oil?
Lavender oil has been used in medicine and aromatherapy for years, with varying degrees of success.
Its treatment of anxiety in humans has been the focus of numerous studies and trials.
Essential oils are concentrated solutions of the chemicals found in a plant. As such, anything potentially harmful in the original ingredient will be even more potent.
Just because it is safe for humans doesn’t mean that it’s safe to use on our cats.
Why Do People Use Lavender Essential Oil on Cats?
One recent study showed a lavender oil derived capsule to be very effective in treating generalized anxiety disorder, when taken orally.
When something works for us, we’d like to think it will work for our cats. After all, it’s only natural to think what’s good for us is good for them.
So, some people try to use lavender essential oil on cats to calm them down. But, more commonly, this product is used as a flea treatment.
Some pet flea treatments available to buy contain a diluted lavender oil. And, people often try to create their own concentrate solution at home.
However, this isn’t always safe for our cats.
It’s important to keep in mind no tests have been carried out with cats to determine lavender oils safety or efficacy when diffused. Cats often deal with substances and chemicals in a different way to us.
Fleas on Cats
Cat fleas are small parasitic insects that most owners struggle with at some point in their cat’s life.
They live deep in your cat’s fur, and survive by drinking your cat’s blood. So, it makes sense that people will try almost anything to get rid of them!
As adults, fleas will measure 1 – 2mm long. So, they can be hard to spot. And, it’s easy for infestations to get out of hand.
If you notice your cat suddenly scratching a lot, you may be dealing with fleas.
There are a lot of flea treatments on the pet market that try to deal with the problem. It ranges from essential oils like lavender oil, to collars and shampoos.
But, just because a product claims to work, doesn’t mean it always does. And, it doesn’t automatically mean it’s safe for your cat.
Does Lavender Essential Oil Get Rid of Fleas on Cats?
Lavender essential oil has been shown to kill pests and parasites such as fleas and ticks.
A study published in the journal of medical entomology showed its ability to kill all life stages of fleas and ticks.
This makes it possible that after coming into contact with lavender oil, cats fleas might be effectively controlled.
However… the chemical that has an effect on these pests can also be toxic to cats, in the right concentration.
So yes, you might get rid of the fleas by using lavender oil. But you could also end up with a very sick cat.
How Does Lavender Oil Get Rid of Fleas on Cats?
Lavender essential oil contains a chemical called linalool. Linalool can make up as much as 49.47% of essential lavender oil.
So, the same chemical that makes lavender oil potentially dangerous to your cat could make it a potent flea poison. Linalool is not only toxic to cats, but in the right concentration effectively kills pests.
As we briefly saw in the previous section, linalool solutions have been used in tests to successfully treat cats with fleas.
The cats involved exhibited no adverse effects afterwards.
But, when it comes to home blended or unregulated lavender oil, cats might not be so lucky.
This is because lavender oil is not consistent.
From batch to batch it can differ hugely in composition. So finding the right concentration of linalool in a domestic setting would be almost impossible, not to mention dangerous.
Homemade vs Commercial
It may be tempting to use lavender oil as you might do a normal flea treatment. With the correct placement, normal treatments are usually okay to use.
But, commercial products are carefully controlled.
Your homemade dilution of lavender oil will not be.
There is no real way of knowing just how much linalool is on your cat with lavender oil.
Using lavender oil on cats for fleas domestically is therefore a possibility, but not advisable.
Solutions containing linalool are currently in use as commercial pesticides. But they are treated with caution, and the subject of strict safety protocols.
Is Lavender Essential Oil Safe for Cats?
To answer the question ‘is lavender oil safe for cats’ we need to define what we mean by safe. Safe when applied topically? Or safe taken orally? Safe to inhale as a mist?
All of these can have different answers.
The ASPCA lists lavender plants as toxic to cats.
Symptoms of lavender poisoning include nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite. These are not things any of us want to inflict on our furry friends.
The reason lavender has this effect is the chemical linalool that we’ve already discussed.
This dangerous concentration of linalool only becomes more of a risk when the lavender is presented in oil form. Around 220 pounds of lavender are used to make one pound of oil.
Natural Does Not Necessarily Mean Safe
It’s easy to think that because a product is natural, it should be safe for your pet. Sadly, this is often untrue.
A great number of plants contain chemicals that could harm your cat. This becomes a serious concern when the chemicals are concentrated into an oil.
Concentrations can vary depending on the lavender itself, or the method of processing. So you can never be sure what you’re exposing your cat to.
Is Lavender Essential Oil Toxic to Cats?
The simple answer is yes, lavender oil is toxic to cats.
As we’ve mentioned before, lavender oil contains linalool. This is what makes lavender oil toxic to cats.
From what we know at the moment, it’s probably best not to use lavender essential oil for fleas on cats. Using lavender oil for cat fleas may effectively kill the fleas, but could also harm your cat.
There’s not been a lot of research into cats and lavender oil, when applied to their fur.
We know it can produce skin irritation and allergic reactions in humans and rats. It’s probably best to wait until we know more before you go rubbing it into your cats coat.
It’s also important to remember that cats clean themselves regularly. Anything applied to your pet’s fur may find its way to their mouth in no time at all!
How Do You Use Lavender Essential Oil for Fleas on Cats?
Lavender essential oil is seen as a home remedy for cat fleas. However, as we’ve discovered, trying to make and use this product at home can have dire consequences for our pets.
If you’re still keen to find out ways it can be used for fleas on cats, you need to talk to your vet.
They will be able to advise you on the best way to move forward with a flea treatment, and discuss the pros and cons of lavender essential oil with you.
If you’ve turned to lavender oil because you can’t find any other flea treatments that work, your vet may be able to suggest some cat-safe options that you haven’t tried yet.
Do Other Essential Oils Get Rid of Fleas on Cats?
It’s becoming more and more popular for people to consider using essential oils as treatments for problems their pets have.
But, like lavender oil, not all of these products are without downsides and consequences.
So, do your research before trying any other essential oils on your cat.
The best person to ask for advice and information is your vet. They will be able to show you up to date research, and recommend the best products.
Other Methods for Getting Rid of Fleas
If you’re at your wit’s end trying to get rid of fleas, there are plenty of different products you can try that are safer than lavender oil.
To start with, speak to your vet. They may be able to suggest products that you haven’t heard of before, and can let you know any risks associated.
And, while you wait for a vet appointment, head on over to our complete guide about fleas on cats.
This will give you the complete run down of the best treatment methods, what fleas are, and how to prevent fleas from coming back.
Lavender Essential Oil for Fleas on Cats
It’s safe to conclude that lavender essential oils and cats don’t really mix.
Your cat is unable to metabolize the linalool, and this could make them very sick indeed.
A lack of research means it’s safer to err on the side of caution, and steer clear of lavender oil.
Although there is some evidence to suggest lavender oil can have some effects on cat fleas, it’s not worth the risk of attempting to use it in this way at home.
References and Further Reading
- Woelk, H. & Schlafke, S. ‘A Multi-Center, Double-Blind, Randomised Study of the Lavender Oil Preparation Silexan in Comparison to Lorazepam for Generalised Anxiety Disorder’, Phytomedicine (2010)
- ‘Aromatherapy with Essential Oils’, PDQ Cancer Information Summaries (2007)
- ‘Lavender’, ASPCA, Toxic Plant Gallery List
- Jaenson, T. (et al), ‘Repellency of Oils of Lemon Eucalyptus, Geranium, and Lavender, and the Mosquito Repellent MyggA Natural to Ixodes Ricinus (Acari: Ixodidae) in the Laboratory and Field’, Journal of Medical Entomology (2006)
- Hink, W. (et al), ‘Toxicity of Linalool to Life Stages of the Cat Flea, Ctenocephalides Felis (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae), and its Efficacy in Carpet and On Animals’, Journal of Medical Entomology (1988)
- GHS Classification – Linalool
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