Cat Owners Share How to Use Diffusers Without Harm

With essential oil diffusers becoming increasingly popular for their aromatherapy benefits, many cat owners wonder: can I use a diffuser with cats in my home? Diffusing certain oils around cats can pose health risks.

However, with some precautions, you can use your diffuser safely so both you and your feline friends can enjoy the benefits.

In this post, we’ll share tips from experienced cat owners on how to use diffusers without harming your cats.

Toxicity Concerns of Essential Oils for Cats

Some essential oils, especially in concentrated forms, can be toxic for cats. Oils like tea tree oil and clove oil contain phenols that cats lack the enzyme to properly metabolize. Diffusing these oils around cats or allowing skin contact can potentially cause liver damage, gastrointestinal distress, respiratory irritation, and even central nervous system depression.

Signs of essential oil poisoning in cats can include:

  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Wheezing, coughing, or breathing difficulties
  • Watery eyes and nose
  • Lethargy or muscle tremors
  • Wobbliness when walking

Oils to especially avoid diffusing around cats include:

  • Citrus oils
  • Cinnamon
  • Peppermint
  • Eucalyptus
  • Wintergreen
  • Ylang ylang

Cats can ingest diffused oils in a few ways:

  • Through inhalation of oil droplets in the air
  • Grooming or licking oil residues off their fur
  • Direct skin contact with oils

So even using a diffuser poses risks for cats, especially if diffusing oils regularly over long periods in confined spaces.

Diffusers Increase Exposure Risk for Cats

Unlike passive essential oil products like candles or reed diffusers, electric diffusers actively disperse concentrated essential oils into the air as a fine mist. This increases the risk of respiratory irritation in cats as they can readily inhale the diffused oils.

Cats spend much of their day grooming, so oil droplets from the diffused mist can collect on their fur. Later ingestion while self-grooming allows the oils to enter the cat’s system.

Warning signs to watch for if you have diffused potentially toxic oils around cats include:

  • Watery eyes
  • Excessive drooling
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Breathing with mouth open
  • Lethargy or weakness

Discontinue diffuser use and move your cat to fresh air immediately if you notice any of these symptoms. Seek emergency veterinary care if symptoms do not quickly improve.

Cat Owners Share How to Use Diffusers Without Harm

Tips from Cat Owners on Safe Diffuser Use

With some care, essential oil diffusers can be used in homes with cats. Here are some tips from experienced cat parents for safely diffusing oils around felines:

Monitor Cats Closely When Diffusing

Know your cat’s normal behavior and watch closely for any signs of respiratory distress or lethargy when diffusing oils. Discontinue use if any concerning symptoms arise.

Use Diffusers for Short Durations

Run your diffuser for shorter periods, such as an hour at a time. Give your cat breaks from breathing diffused oils.

Choose a Low Mist Output

Opt for the lowest mist output on ultrasonic diffusers to minimize oil volume dispersed.

Avoid Toxic Oils and Dilute Appropriately

Do not diffuse oils toxic for cats. Dilute any oils appropriately in your diffuser reservoir – typically a max of 1-2 drops of oil per 200mL of water.

Diffuse in Cat-Free Rooms

Use your diffuser only in rooms your cats do not access, keeping doors closed. Ventilate rooms well after diffusing.

Diffuser in Bedroom

An image of someone diffusing oils in their bedroom with the door closed could illustrate diffusing in cat-free zones.

Store Oils Securely Out of Reach

Keep all essential oils tightly sealed and stored securely in a location your clever cats cannot access. Locked cabinets are ideal for safe storage.

Consult Your Veterinarian

Discuss any essential oil products with your vet before use around your cats. Get their recommendations for cat-safe oils and proper dilution.

Use Cat-Specific Diffusers

Consider a diffuser designed specifically for calming cats, such as Feliway or Thunderease. These mimic cat pheromones to help reduce stress and anxiety.

Feliway diffusers can help curb unwanted behaviors in cats like aggression, inappropriate urination, and furniture scratching by emitting synthetic cat pheromones. The diffused pheromones mimic cats’ natural facial pheromones to create a comforting environment. Feliway is veterinarian recommended and safe for use around cats.

Thunderease Calming Diffuser for Cats helps alleviate anxiety in cats with a patented formulation of dog appeasing pheromone, lavender oil, and chamomile oil. It’s formulated to be safe for cats and has been clinically proven in trials to reduce anxiety-related behaviors in kitties by up to 50%.

By taking some simple precautions, you can enjoy the benefits of essential oil diffusers while also keeping your beloved cats safe and healthy. Always monitor your cats closely when trying a new essential oil product and consult your veterinarian with any concerns. With careful use, diffusers can be an excellent addition to a cat-friendly home.


Essential oil diffusers provide many benefits, but cat owners need to be aware of potential dangers to felines, especially from oils containing toxic phenols. By following tips from experienced cat owners, avoiding diffusing toxic oils, supervising your cats closely, and consulting your vet, you can use diffusers safely in your home. With some care, both you and your cats can enjoy the soothing effects of essential oil diffusion worry-free.