Lavender Poisoning in Cats

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Lavender Poisoning in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Lavender Poisoning in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What is Lavender Poisoning?

While a lavender plant itself isn’t toxic to your cat, formulations from the plant can be. Your cat can eat a lot of lavender and may suffer only an upset stomach, but on the other hand, lavender essential oil can be deadly for your pet because of its concentration. A cat’s liver lacks several specific enzymes that helps it to safely process the volatile compounds in essential oils, so these should be kept far away from your cat.

Lavender Poisoning Average Cost

From 235 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

Symptoms of Lavender Poisoning in Cats

If your cat has gotten into a lavender plant and eaten a large quantity, you’ll notice the following symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Lavender essential oils can easily be absorbed through your cat’s respiratory system, where they then move into the bloodstream. From the bloodstream, they move into the cat’s liver. Your cat’s skin is delicate and thin, so rubbing a “soothing” blend of lavender oil that hasn’t been diluted with a carrier oil can lead to liver problems for your cat, as well as chemical burns. Likewise, liquid potpourris contain cationic agents and essential oils. which can burn your cat’s skin and mouth. Ingestion of these oils can cause:

  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Uncoordinated gait
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Pawing at face and mouth
  • Muscle tremors
  • Redness and/or erosions on lips, skin, gums and tongue
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Causes of Lavender Poisoning in Cats

Your cat’s liver lacks several specific enzymes that allows it to break down certain substances, including the components of essential oils and liquid potpourri.

The lavender plant itself contains linalyl acetate and linalool. These substances can cause gastrointestinal upset in your cat. Even a diluted massage oil can lead to a mildly upset stomach, so try to avoid letting your cat get into lavender plants or anything that has been made from lavender.

Your cat needs attention, play sessions and the chance to safely explore its environment every day. If it doesn’t get these opportunities, it will become bored and get into situations that can make it sick.

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Diagnosis of Lavender Poisoning in Cats

When you realize your cat has gotten into some form of lavender, call the vet, even if it hasn’t become symptomatic. If you believe it has gotten into your potpourri or essential oils, do not make your pet vomit, as the ingredients can burn its digestive tract. Instead, put the lavender, potpourri or essential oil into a sealed plastic bag and give these to your vet for examination and testing.

Your vet will give your cat a full physical exam, which includes a urinalysis and blood work. These will tell the vet just how the lavender and related products are affecting your cat, so they can devise the most appropriate treatment plan. Specifically, the vet will look for signs of liver or kidney damage.

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Treatment of Lavender Poisoning in Cats

Once your vet knows just how badly affected your cat is by the lavender it ingested, they will be able to order the most appropriate treatments, which include supportive IV fluids (to rehydrate your cat, eliminate toxins and support their liver and kidneys). If your cat has suffered chemical burns from eating potpourri or a lavender essential oil, it may not be able to eat normally. In cases like this, your vet will insert a feeding tube into your cat’s stomach so it can get nutrition this way until the burns have healed. 

Your vet will also give an anti-emetic (anti-vomiting) medication to your cat, along with medications that coat and protect the stomach. If your cat is in pain from its poisoning or from chemical burns, it will receive pain medications appropriate for cats, as well as antibiotics. To prevent liver damage, your vet will also give medication to it that helps to protect its liver.

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Recovery of Lavender Poisoning in Cats

Your cat can recover from lavender poisoning as long it receives veterinary care as quickly as possible. It can recover from chemical burns it may have suffered after licking up an essential oil or potpourri. If you massaged an essential oil into its skin, thinking to help it relax, it will also recover from the injuries to its skin with the right treatment. 

Before your cat comes home, remove all essential oils and potpourri products, or keep them in an area where it can’t get to them. Before you massage any essential oils into your cat’s fur, ask your vet if it is safe to do so. 

If your cat ate from a lavender plant and you don’t want it to do so in the future, remove it or place it where your cat can’t get to it. Give it the chance to nibble at “cat-friendly” grasses instead.

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Lavender Poisoning Average Cost

From 235 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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Lavender Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Bubba

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tabby

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8 Years

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0 found helpful

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0 found helpful

Has Symptoms

None Yet

Hello, my wife and I are watching my parents cat and she though lavender oil would help him relax a bit. I told her I wanted to look up if it was a good idea first but she did it before I read that it wasn’t a good idea to do. She diluted it with coconut oil and put it on the top of his neck mostly in the fur and now I’m concerned. The lavender mix doesn’t seem to be overly strong to me but to the cat it might be. He is acting normal now but I’m not sure if we should bathe him to be safe?

June 10, 2018

Bubba's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Any concentrated oils that are applied to the skin of a cat or dog can be quite irritating. It would probably be best to wash the oil off.

June 10, 2018

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Snicker

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Short haired calico

dog-age-icon

10 Years

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0 found helpful

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0 found helpful

Has Symptoms

None So Far

My cat ate some epsom salt that contains “lavandula hybrida oil”. I don’t think she got a lot of it and she seems to be acting normal it but only happened a few minutes ago.

June 8, 2018

Snicker's Owner

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0 Recommendations

You should keep a close eye on Snicker for the time being as the salt may also cause trouble as well, if Snicker starts to drink a lot you should restrict access to water; if any other symptoms develop you should visit your Veterinarian to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 8, 2018

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Lavender Poisoning Average Cost

From 235 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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