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Is sandalwood essential oil safe for cats?

Is sandalwood essential oil safe for cats?

September 19, 2023

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When it comes to the health and well-being of our feline friends, we want nothing but the best. In recent years, essential oils have gained popularity for their therapeutic benefits. Sandalwood essential oil, in particular, is known for its calming properties. But the question remains: Is sandalwood essential oil safe for cats?

The Basics of Essential Oils and Cats

Is sandalwood essential oil safe for cats?

Essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts that carry the fragrance and therapeutic properties of the plant they are derived from. They have a wide range of uses, from aromatherapy to natural remedies for various health issues. However, what’s beneficial for humans may not always be safe for our pets.

The Cat’s Unique Physiology

Cats have a unique physiology that makes them more susceptible to toxicity from certain substances, including essential oils. Unlike humans and many other animals, cats lack an enzyme called glucuronyl transferase in their liver. This enzyme is crucial in metabolizing and eliminating certain compounds, including many found in essential oils.

The Case of Sandalwood Essential Oil

Sandalwood essential oil is derived from the wood of sandalwood trees. It has a warm, woodsy aroma and is commonly used in aromatherapy for its calming effects. However, despite its pleasant scent and soothing properties, sandalwood essential oil may not be safe for cats.

Scientific Findings on Cats and Essential Oils

There are limited studies directly addressing the safety of sandalwood essential oil for cats. However, research on cats’ sensitivity to essential oils in general provides some insight.

A study published in the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care reported cases of cats developing severe health issues after exposure to essential oils through skin contact or inhalation. Symptoms included drooling, vomiting, tremors, and in severe cases, liver failure.

Expert Opinions

Many veterinarians caution against using essential oils around cats. Dr. Tina Wismer, the medical director at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, states that some essential oils can cause problems in cats, ranging from mild irritation to severe toxicity.

Care Tips for Cat Owners

If you’re a cat owner who enjoys using essential oils, there are several precautions you can take to protect your pet:

  • Use a diffuser in a separate room where your cat doesn’t have access.
  • Ensure your cat has a way to leave the room if you’re diffusing oils in a shared space.
  • Avoid applying essential oils directly onto your cat’s skin or fur.
  • If you suspect your cat has been exposed to an essential oil and is showing signs of distress, contact your vet immediately.


The use of sandalwood essential oil may not be safe for cats due to their unique physiology and inability to metabolize certain compounds found in essential oils. While further research is needed specifically on sandalwood essential oil, the existing scientific findings and expert opinions suggest erring on the side of caution. As responsible pet owners, it’s important to prioritize our pets’ health and well-being above all else.

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