Peppermint oil is a popular essential oil that is used for a while range of things, from relaxation or wakefulness to muscle aches, allergies, and digestion. It can also be used for skin and hair care and has some antioxidant properties.
While it probably isn’t the heal all many natural health gurus claim it is, it’s certainly not harmful to have around the house for adults and it has a pleasant smell that makes it simply nice to use in a diffuser, even if you don’t subscribe to any of the other supposed benefits.
But is peppermint oil safe to have around cats? If your cat started going for the peppermint oil, do you have to worry about an upcoming trip to the vet? Can cats eat peppermint oil?
Short answer: no. Like any essential oil, peppermint oil is too potent for cats and toxic. Even peppermint plants can cause problems for cats primarily because of the essential oils.
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Do Cats Like Peppermint Oil?
Unfortunately, cats are both curious and attracted to the fragrance of mint (usually cats know better than to go after plants that will make them sick, but peppermint is just too enticing).
Cats probably won’t go for the peppermint oil as readily as they would the plant, but it’s still something to watch out for.
The reason for the split is that peppermint contains Nepetalactone which is the main chemical found in catnip (Catnip is related to peppermint).
If your cat likes catnip, they will probably also be drawn to peppermint and it’s not as though they are going to know that one is fine and the other is toxic.
Do Cats Hate Peppermint Oil?
Oddly enough, many cats are attracted to it, so no, cats don’t necessarily hate it even though it makes them sick if they ingest it. That being said, there will always be some cats who are more sensible (or just don’t like it), so perhaps hope that yours is one of them?
If your cat doesn’t like catnip, they won’t like peppermint. The Salicylate chemical in peppermint repels cats and the nepetalactone won’t make cats who hate catnip happy either, so they are more likely to leave it alone.
Can Eating Peppermint Oil Kill My Cat?
Peppermint oil is toxic to cats and eating too much of it could prove fatal largely because of the effects that the poisoning has on them. And cats don’t even have to eat peppermint oil to feel affected by it – the smell alone, particularly the phenols and phenolic compounds, can make it hard for cats to breath, increase their heart rate, and cause aspiration pneumonia.
Plus, the smell can saturate their fur, making them more likely to groom themselves and get the oil into their system. The oil that is used topically on cats can also get into their skin and enter the bloodstream. Peppermint oil on cat skin can also cause collapse, depression, and even hypothermia!
Ingesting peppermint oil also leads to a host of problems for cats. Mint toxicity symptoms include:
- Labored breathing/wheezing
- Increased heart rate
- Fever or low body temperature
- Lack of appetite
Because a cat’s liver cannot process the phenol compounds found in peppermint, ingesting the oil can cause liver damage. It can also cause gastrointestinal problems like vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. All of these things are very damaging to a cat’s health and the liver damage can cause coma or even death.
Remember that the essential oil, in particular, is going to be very concentrated so it really won’t take much of it to cause damage to your cat.
Some cats will tolerate a small amount of peppermint oil without suffering ill effects, but since you won’t know unless it happens, it’s best not to tempt fate!
If your cat does get into peppermint oil, it’s important to monitor your cats for symptoms and get them to a vet as quickly as possible if there are any signs of trouble so that your vet can give them proper treatment.
Peppermint oil is even harder on kittens since they are far more delicate. The oil can not only cause breathing problems and stomach upset, but it can even have a terrible effect on their skin and can kill them.
That strong smell of peppermint that makes many humans happy and nostalgic for the holidays, is about 14 times stronger for cats who have a much stronger sense of smell. At that point, it’s beyond overwhelming so no wonder most cats hate it!
How Much Peppermint Oil Can I Feed My Cat?
None. Cats should not be exposed to peppermint oil in any way – eating, breathing, or topical use. Any exposure can make a cat very sick and can even be fatal. It will certainly irritate cats and make it harder for them to breathe and be comfortable.
This includes using peppermint oil as a way to get rid of fleas. While peppermint is also fatal to fleas, it causes far more problems for cats than it solves (plus it’s too slow to deal with the flea’s reproductive cycle).
If your cat has fleas, talk to your vet about safe and effective ways to quickly kill fleas and break up the reproductive cycle without risking your cat’s health.
As for using peppermint oil yourself, ensure that you are using it in a room that is not accessible to cats to protect them. This includes diffusers, potpourri, and other essential oils.
In fact, most common essential oils that we humans use to relax are toxic to cats, so if you’re a fan, it should be done well away from your pet.
Like most essential oils, peppermint oil is not good for your cat. It can cause a huge range of health issues, though the most devastating is liver damage which can be fatal.
It can also cause skin irritation, stomach problems, itching, and even collapse and coma. Peppermint oil should definitely not be used on your cat for anything, and it shouldn’t be used around your cat either or there is too high a risk of exposure.
You’re far better off either using it well away from your cat or finding other ways to deal with things like fleas or promoting relaxation in your cat.
Does your cat try to get into peppermint and peppermint oil? What solutions have you used to keep them out of it?
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.