Neem oil for cats is used as an insect repellant, and to treat itchy skin, ringworm, skin irritation, hot spots or mange. It is a vegetable oil that is extracted from the neem tree, native to parts of India, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. The liquid is typically cold-pressed, resulting in a potent oil that can be brown, red or yellow. It is mostly used topically, and must be diluted before use. On its own it is far too potent, and can cause side effects if applied directly to the skin. For pet applications, neem oil is sold in diluted mixtures, sprays, shampoos, and less frequently as pure oil. It might keep some insects away, but there is no evidence that it actually works for these other conditions. There are also much better and safer options for insect repellants.
What are the Uses of Neem Oil for Cats?
There are many claimed benefits of neem oil, but fewer that are actually supported by evidence. The main use of neem oil is as an insect repellant. When used topically, neem oil is an effective repellant for mosquitos, fleas and other insects. This repellent effect is largely attributed to neem’s concentration of chemical compounds called triterpenes.
Triterpenes are a group of compounds found in plant gums and resins – two of the triterpenes in neem oil which repel insects are azadirachtin and nimbin. Azadirachtin is a powerful natural insecticide, while nimbin has documented anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties.
Although neem oil appears to be effective in repelling many biting insects, veterinarians typically recommend using it in with other insect repellants.
Since biting insects often carry disease, most experts recommend using traditional preventatives that are proven to be effective at countering these pests. Neem oil can be used in conjunction with these established treatments, but typically should not be used on its own.
Unproven Uses of Neem Oil for Cats
Other potential benefits of neem oil that are not well supported by evidence include the treatment of itchy skin, ringworm, skin irritation, hot spots and mange.
These potential benefits of neem oil for cats are attributed to the oil’s concentration of azadirachtin, vitamin E, nimbin, and essential fatty acids. However, these applications are not proven, despite reports of apparent success from pet owners.
Is Neem Oil Safe for Cats?
When used topically and in properly diluted concentrations, neem oil is typically safe for cats. However some vets even have reservations about this, as we shall see.
For internal use, neem oil’s safety is questionable. No studies have looked at the use of neem oil as an oral remedy, so safety statistics are unknown.
For best results, neem oil must be used properly in order to lower the risk of side effects.
For topical use, neem should always be diluted. Most experts recommend buying a product that’s already diluted.
If you have pure neem oil, it should always be diluted with another carrier oil, such as coconut or olive oil.
Undiluted neem oil should never be applied directly to your cat as it can potentially irritate the skin.
It’s worth noting that most studies looking at the topical use of neem oil have been conducted on dogs, horses and other animals – but none have looked at cats specifically.
Concerns About Neem Oil and Cats
Because of the lack of studies, some veterinarians caution against using neem oil for cats even topically – particularly because of how often cats self-groom.
It’s thought that cats are likely to ingest the neem oil on their skin by licking and grooming.
Thus, neem oil and cats don’t necessarily mix well.
The bottom line is this: while neem oil appears safe for topical use, there simply isn’t a whole lot of evidence out there to support its safety.
Additionally, oral use of neem oil has not been studied, and because of their grooming habits, cats are likely to ingest anything applied to their skin.
Overall, caution is advised with this herbal remedy. Speak to your vet if you have concerns.
How to Use Neem Oil for Cats
Neem oil should only be used topically, and only with the guidance and advice of a licensed veterinarian.
Many people use neem oil for fleas on cats. The oil’s use as an insect repellant is the most-studied aspect of the plant, so this is logical.
Most neem oil products will come in the form of shampoos, sprays or diluted tinctures.
The products should include usage instructions, which can be used as guidelines. However, we recommend checking with your veterinarian before use.
When using neem oil on cats, or any other herbal product for that matter, it’s best to spot test a small area.
Take just a bit of the product and apply it to a small area of your cat’s skin. Then, wait 24 hours and keep an eye out for signs of irritation or allergic reaction.
This way, if it does irritate your cat’s skin, it will only be a small area that is effected.
If no irritation occurs, apply the product according to the manufacturer’s instructions (or better yet, your vet’s recommendations).
Side Effects of Neem Oil for Cats
The most common side effect of using neem oil on cats is skin irritation.
When this occurs, monitor the area closely; irritated skin can easily become broken and infected or become a hotspot if your cat licks and scratched it a lot.
Ask for your vet’s advice if the irritation doesn’t subside quickly.
In some cases, neem oil has caused side effects such as diarrhea, convulsions, lethargy, vomiting and respiratory distress.
If your cat has any off these symptoms after being treated with neem oil contact your vet immediately.
Warning: Neem Oil Smells Bad!
One thing to keep in mind is that neem oil smells pretty bad.
Some people compare the smell to raw garlic, although it’s stronger and a bit less pleasant.
This is good to know ahead of time, as if you’re sensitive to strong smells you may not be able to use neem oil for your cat.
The smell gets a bit better when properly diluted, but regardless it’s a potent, fairly unpleasant smell.
Laura Kovary says
I have been using a neem oil I purchased from Penn Herbs on one of my cats for ringworm. It seems to be helping and I haven’t noticed any side effects. I’m using a small amount on her ear which is where I see the spot of ringworm.
I recently acquired a lovely black/white male kitten, who needed some care and attention to his skin with many visible patches of ringworm and less than 400grms in weight. He was only about month old, but has come on leaps and bounds. Now couple months old. Skin now greatly improved and his coat so shiny with only the odd tiny patch ringworm. He eats very well and I only give him good food which I feel important with skin conditions . I bathed him with Nobleza cat shampoo – Neem Tree Oil and this seems to be helping greatly.. I had never heard of this oil before. So I found the information regarding this on your site excellent, thank you. My vet had suggested Itraconazol for FELIX but I was reluctant to use this having read the possible side effects – He was only tiny and malnourished so I decided to use the shampoo and TLC first.
Plus the Itraconazal is long term oral medicine – one week on /one week off. So for the time being Felix is fine – lively and entertaining to say the least and will see how things go with him.
Penny Dewhurst MAY 20TH 2019
Neem oil has been used for centuries against all kinds of bugs and fungi. Every Indian knows that the best treatment for ringworm is neem oil. I have been using neem myself for a long time internally and externally against tooth infection, parasites, candida and athletes foot. I use it on my cats against fungi and fleas, and also on the odd hedgehog knocking on my door for help with mites, fleas and ringworm. I have never seen any side effects. by the way; it’s a great pesticide as well: 100% biodegradable and very effective.
I would worry more about the side effects of artificial chemicals which are used on animals (and people).
Hi Linda, can you explain how you use it with cats? Internal, external, quantity and any tips or special instructions?
Neem is antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial. I keep a bottle Neem capsules in my kitchen cabinet for my family when any of us gets sick with a cold or other virus. It really helps speeding recovery. I’ve used a combo of neem soap and oregano oil on my daughter’s back when she had ringworm several years back when antifungal creams were not working. I would wash the rash with neem soap twice a day (morning and evening) and apply oregano oil to the rash and cover with a bandage. The rash finally cleared up with this treatment.
I agree with the lady above.it seems to me companies want to discourage the use of natural remedies in favour of chemicals that they can make a profit from. I will use neem on my pets I think it’s got to be a better option.
Need oil was developed by India to fight the mite infestations. It has proven to be an effective mite killer. I had a rodent mite infestation in my residence which attacked my cats , dog and me. The exterminator was knowledgeable and in contact with the UofT urban pest expert over the 3 months it took to eliminate the infestation. The last and finally most effective treatment was a machine that fogged the Neem oil. Being highly allergic to mites I’ve used Neem oil successfully washing clothes , bedding, spraying down bed and furniture to eradicate mites. It was also effective in getting rid of bird mites on our chickens. Been oil is a proven mite killer.
Sorry for the typos. Revolution was used to eliminate mites on all my pets. Successfully I will add. Karen
Roxanne Howard says
My cat is on Revolution and still got mites in her ear. Going to try neem mixed with castor oil. First cleaning ear with alcohol and swabs then neem mixture & rub in then wipe inside ear with cotton ball, 2x per day 7 days on 7 days off then 7 more days on. well see…. Cant afford hundreds of dollars in vet bill every time my cat has an issue.
Debbie Simmons says
Bayer Advantage is 85% Pure Neem seed oil.
Huh ? You must mean something else ? Advantage us imidaclorpid , like most spot ons highly toxic to bees
I put pure neem oil on my cats collars and it was very effective against insects. I also had a little of the oil on my hands and petted them just a bit. A few weeks later they both stopped eating and drinking, losing weight. X-rays revealed severe lung, stomach and intestinal involvement. Very scarey. I’m not using any more oils on my cats and just following vets advice.
Are you sure this is related to the oil? And not poison or illness ? I put some on my cats but they don’t show any issues (yet ?) . Sounds unlikely that this would be from just one time exposure ? Good to know anyway
Hjördís Ósk Sigtryggsdóttir says
My cat had the same reaction. I used neem oil on a plant and he was eating the plant and got very sick. Hawain Rose so not the plant that made him sick
Used Neem oil successfully with ear mites on my cats. Fractionated Coconut oil mixed with tiniest ( perhaps 2 ml ) Neem. Dipped cotton bud in and wiped outside and just inside of ear lobes Not penetrating the inner ear. Proved very effective and they’ve not returned. This was months ago. Also used Neem on myself for itchy scalp and athletes foot ( all connected with Tinea fungus )
I use it for my dog’s irritated skin. It helps immediately.
I use it to brush their teeth along with a little baking soda.
I use Neem oil for my plants as an anti pesticide. With a drop of dish soap, and water in a spray bottle.
My niece has eczema and it helps her better than any prescription drug.
I use it as a treatment for my hair.
It’s a great product. I only use 100% pure Neem oil.
Well worth it!
(I’m here because I’m looking for information about Neem oil for a friend’s cat and thought I should share my experience)
Is there anyone here who’s had successfull experience with treating cats for flees with neem ? How do you do it and can you stand the smell ?