Veterinarians caution against using tree oil for cats because it can be easily absorbed through the skin.
Tea tree oil can be poisonous to cats, especially if the oil is applied without first being diluted or if the dose is too high. Many veterinarians and other pet care experts recommend not using tea tree oil for cats, although it has been found to be a safe and effective remedy for some feline complaints in the past. Tea tree oil is one of several essential oils, like peppermint oil, that are considered toxic to these animals. Flea shampoos for cats often contain small doses of tea tree oil, but many vets advise that these shampoos should be purchased from reputable manufacturers and should contain clearly stated dosage information on the package. Cats can easily absorb tea tree oil through their skin and can also be poisoned by breathing in its vapors or by swallowing the oil.
In sufficient doses, tea tree oil can be toxic to animals.
Small doses of tea tree oil, applied very carefully, may not cause immediate or long-term harm to your cat’s health. For the average cat, a deadly dose would be somewhere between 1.5 teaspoons (7.4 milliliters) and 3 teaspoons (14.8 milliliters). A safe dose would be about five drops (0.4 milliliters), mixed with 1 teaspoon (4.8 milliliters) of vegetable or olive oil. The mixture should normally be applied to the cat’s skin, avoiding the eyes, nose and mouth.
Many pet care experts recommend not using tea tree oil for cats.
Cats are generally considered vulnerable to essential oil toxicity because their livers are often unable to metabolize the compounds found in these oils. Some believe that tea tree oil poisoning can occur even when small doses are applied to the skin, as the oil’s toxic compounds can build up in the liver over time. Some of these compounds include camphene, linalool, alpha-terpinene, and terpinolene. Large amounts of these chemicals can cause liver damage and even death in cats, and little can be done for this type of poisoning.
Cats are generally considered vulnerable to essential oil toxicity because their livers are often unable to metabolize the compounds found in these oils.
Manufacturers of tea tree oil products for cats often warn that essential oil doses should be kept very low to avoid problems. Veterinarians and manufacturers often caution against applying pure tea tree oil to a cat’s skin, as it is normally absorbed easily. Experts also advise against giving a cat tea tree oil orally. Some experts are also concerned about the harmful effects of inhaling tea tree oil and warn that cats should generally never be exposed to pure oil.