The subtle use of aromatherapy can enhance all healing therapies. Scent has been used by humans for millennia, documented as far back as the Old Kingdom in ancient Egypt.
Humans use aromatherapy to stimulate the immune system and promote healing. This is done by using the distilled or expressed product of aromatic plant materials. These aromatic essences have many desirable physical and psychological properties, including tonic, antibacterial, antispasmodic and anti-anxiety effects.
Because the cat’s sense of smell is so much more complex and acute than our own, aromatherapy must be used thoughtfully and safely.
Cats’ amazing olfactory ability evolved as a defense against predators and other dangers. Both domestic and wild cats have the same keen sense of smell. In fact, cats can detect the scent of prey or food up to three, four, or even five miles away if conditions are good. A cat’s sense of smell is approximately 14 times better than ours.
Cats and Essential Oils Are Not A Good Blend!
Cats, like all animals, are susceptible to injury and disease. People who use essential oils in their own lives may be tempted to share their positive experiences with their pets, but it is important to know that cats are wired very differently from other animals and, as such, are not good candidates for many alternative healing therapies without in depth knowledge of the difference between cats and humans and how they react to various holistic therapies, such as aromatherapy.
Cats’ livers lack the ability to properly metabolize and detoxify many substances. This may allow certain compounds in essential oils to build up to toxic levels, causing liver damage or even death.
Never use essential oils directly on a cat, even when diluted. There are products on the market that instruct you to spray them onto your cat–but don’t do it! First, it is a serious violation of their personal space! How would you feel if someone sprayed something on you that you couldn’t get away from? Second, many cats equate being sprayed with punishment; this is not a good way to introduce a cat to aromatherapy, and could paradoxically create a major aversion. Third, the cat will try to lick the substance off; but ingesting the oil is an even more direct route for potential toxins to invade the body.
Next: Safe aromatherapy