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Is Eucalyptus Safe for Cats? What about fresh eucalyptus?

Is Eucalyptus Safe for Cats? What about fresh eucalyptus?

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For some time now, eucalyptus' popularity has been wildly increasing. From its use in elevating the shower experience to its role in floral arrangements and so much more, eucalyptus is a hot topic these days. However, if you are a cat owner, you may have some reservations about bringing this new plant into your home. You may have heard that eucalyptus is dangerous, even toxic, to cats. If that is you, then this article was made to answer all your questions and help you get to the bottom of this important matter! 

small eucalyptus bundle hanging

I. Is Eucalyptus Safe for Cats in Any Form?

The short answer is: NO. 

The longer version of that answer is that eucalyptus is dangerous in all forms for cats: dried eucalyptus, fresh eucalyptus, and eucalyptus essential oil all carry risks for cats. There may be some discrepancies between the level of risk depending on the level of accessibility of the eucalyptus. However, regardless of the form, the eucalyptus plant is toxic to your cat. 

The good news is that most cats do not like eucalyptus either. The pungent smell is overwhelming to their sense of smell, which is a whopping 14 times stronger than a human's. Therefore, most cats will avoid getting up close and personal with eucalyptus because they are disdainful of its odor. This means that cats will not usually seek out eucalyptus although you must still be watchful in keeping it out of their direct path. 

II. What Makes Eucalyptus Dangerous for Cats?

Eucalyptus contains chemicals that cause harm to the cat as their bodies are unable to digest them properly. The main culprit is a component of eucalyptus called eucalyptol, also known as cineole. According to veterinarian Dr. Cristina Bustamante, cats are unable to metabolize eucalyptol which can lead to damage to your pet's internal organs. 

white cat lying down

III. What are the signs of eucalyptus poisoning in cats?

First things first: if you believe that your cat has ingested eucalyptus, call your vet right away. He or she will be better able to help you determine the next best steps based on the specifics of the circumstances. 

Listed below are some main symptoms of eucalyptus poisoning. Note that not all of the symptoms need to be present in order for eucalyptus poisoning to be occurring. In fact, in many cases, only one or two will present.

- Vomiting

- Diahrrea

- Fatigue

- Spasms or Trembling

- Drooling

While the above symptoms can also point to other issues, be sure to consider the possibility of eucalyptus poisoning if your cat is exhibiting these signs. Again, it is ideal to get in touch with your vet as soon as possible in order to discuss your specific situation. 

IV. Can I Keep Eucalyptus in My House Safely with Cats?

To stay on the super safe side, you may want to keep eucalyptus out of your home entirely if you also have felines present, particularly if your cat roams the entire house. There are, however, a few exceptions where it may be safe to have both a pet cat and eucalyptus in your home:

1. If your cat is primarily an outdoor cat and only ventures inside to a specific area of the house such as a porch or sunroom that is eucalyptus free. 

2. If your eucalyptus is kept in an area in which the cat is not permitted. An example would be a master bedroom suite in which the door is kept closed. Or a bathroom where the door is normally closed.

3. If your cat does not try to eat plants. A main concern is that eucalyptus should not be in the mouth of the cat (or humans!). Hanging eucalyptus is one way to keep it away from your cat.

Even in these cases, you will want to exercise caution, especially if you know your cat to be adventurous and prone to trying new things. Keep in mind that many cats will be repulsed by the odor of eucalyptus and instinctually know to keep away, yet this is not a guarantee and every cat is a bit different, as we all know well. At the end of the day, it is up to you to make a judgment call regarding allowing eucalyptus in a home with a cat. Many people have cats and eucalyptus in their bathroom with no issues!

Eucalyptus is a wonderful plant and addition to homes with many health benefits for humans, but not for cats. Unfortunately, the uncanny climbing ability of cats and the presence of eucalyptus in the home typically don't mix well. Although there may well be circumstances in which eucalyptus and cats can safely live under the same roof, these instances require safety precautions to ensure that the cat is not hurt by exposure to the eucalyptus. You may want to speak to your vet for further direction. 

As you go, don't forget to check out Self-Care Shower's numerous non-eucalyptus products! We offer a variety of U.S.-sourced, sustainably grown natural products to enhance your self-care experience with something for everyone - with or without eucalyptus.

Image Sources:

Photo by Jari Hytönen on Unsplash

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Photo by C. SHII on Unsplash

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