Cats - Beware of some natural remedies that can be deadly.
Essential oils – GREAT CAUTION
For many years the use of essential oils was considered acceptable for such problems as fleas, minor infected injuries and skin conditions. However, the problem is with the cat’s liver. This is most often the organ that is affected by primarily the terpene content of the oil. That is to say unlike human livers they lack the ability to properly metabolise the various compounds in essential oils. There is an article written by a Dr Khan which goes into this deficiency in more detail.
The toxic effect in cats can occur very quickly, through internal or external application, or by continuous inhalation of essential oils used in burners or fans but either way, it can lead to serious liver damage or even death. The same applies to essential oils applied to human skin and passed to the coat of the animal by stroking or other contact and subsequently ingested when cleaning the fur.
The following Essential Oils are potentially particularly toxic to cats
Peppermint, Lemon Oil, Lavender Oil, Melaleuca Oil, Tea Tree Oil and Cinnamon Bark Oil
Many flea and tick repelling essential oil blends are sold through alternative healing stores or websites. These often contain the most toxic essential oils to cats: cinnamon, pennyroyal, hyssop, thyme, eucalyptus, tea tree, wormwood, camphor, sage, rosemary and tansy. The instructions may state to apply full strength to the cat's coat or to dose like a liquid medication. Both of these practices can kill a cat, according to Colorado State University and many veterinarians. DO NOT USE THESE.
There is a publication called "The Doctor's Book of Home Remedies for Dogs and Cats." where heavily diluted Pennyroyal or Eucalyptus essential oil is added to cat shampoo to get rid of fleas. It states only one or two drops of Eucalyptus oil should be added to the cat's shampoo. They do say the cat needs to be rinsed off thoroughly so that no shampoo or oil is left on the body that could be swallowed when the cat grooms itself and it cautions to never just place Pennyroyal essential oil directly onto a cat's fur. Personally I would never use this idea as for a cat with failing kidneys or liver even a small dose can overload the system.
Before going further into essential oils just a few more words on liver disease in cats. In the early stages of liver disease, symptoms will include vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss, soft and/or grey stool, weakness and listlessness. As the disease progresses, your cat's symptoms may include jaundice, confusion, convulsions and a swollen abdomen from fluids accumulating. In its final stages, symptoms include nervousness that will manifest itself in circling, head pressing, aimless wandering and possible aggression. The cat may have a staggering gait, become blind, be aggressive and fall into a coma. These symptoms are caused by the build-up of toxins in the animal's brain and its inability to expel them and are not reversible. Such procedures as liver transplants exist but they are expensive and usually require the killing of a healthy unwanted cat – which is totally not acceptable. Kidney transplants are similar but as there are two organs the donor cat is not killed but you must be prepared to adopt and love it as your own cat. I must say I have serious reservations about this also.
Even after what I have said you must use an essential oil or essential water in any preparation there are five rules to follow:
Always allow your cat to choose if it will tolerate an essential oil, Do Not Use Essential Oil on a cat if it resists in any way!
Essential oils must always be used in very high dilutions (max 1 drop to 10ml, preferably as little as 1 drop in 25ml can still be effective)
Never put essential oils on a cat's body
Never, ever close a cat in a room with an essential oil burner or fan
Never use essential oil that contains phenols
Despite being recommended in the book "Herbs for Pets." Do not use Lemongrass, or Cymbopogon citratus as a flea treatment.
Under the supervision of a licensed homeopathic veterinary practitioner, Chamomile hydrolated oils are administered orally for a variety of ailments including respiratory issues and stomach pains caused by an excess of bacteria, as stated by the "Clinical Textbook for Veterinary Technicians." When used orally, chamomile is a mild laxative that promotes the passage of parasites, foreign objects and backed-up faecal matter. Personally I have yet to see definitive clinical trials which examine the effect on an elderly cat or one with impaired liver or kidney function. Most clinical trials are carried out using young fully fit animals.
Another book "For Pet's Sake," advocates using Lavender oil for skin problems. I thoroughly disagree with this as Lavender is toxic and the cat will ingest it when it immediately cleans it fur.
Cats can become overwhelmed by the odour of essential oils, sniffing and licking if the person smells of oils. Cats can also behave as they do with catnip (another essential oil) running around and having mad moments. This suggests that the cat really loves essential oil, when, in fact, it is literally driving them crazy.
Other natural remedies:
Most cats are fed on proprietary wet or dry cat foods which are missing many of the natural ingredients their digestive systems are evolved for. Two of the most important are EPA and DHA fatty acids i.e. Omega -3. Capsules are available but as always the trick is to get them to take them. Vets seems to have the knack and perhaps they will show you.
Milk thistle is recommended for cats with liver disease or any liver problems caused by other medications or treatments (such as chemotherapy). Milk thistle helps repair damaged cells and helps protect healthy cells from being damaged. Because it does both, milk thistle may be helpful for cats who already have healthy livers by protecting them from future damage from other medications, such as aspirin. By all means chat with your vet for more information regarding milk thistle and how it can help your cat.
Dandelion has also been used for the treatment of liver disease in cats. It has been used for many years to help stimulate liver function and increase the flow of bile. It is also thought to help relieve jaundice, increase appetite and cleanse the cat's body of toxins. As I have no doubt you have seen, cat will sometimes graze in the garden and eat certain "weeds" to address a particular problem. In many ways a cat is a better judge of what will work and what will harm it.
Herbal medicines and minerals can play a role in treatment of liver disease in cats. Some commonly used treatments for liver disease by themselves or in combination with steroids, other prescription drugs and/or other herbs and holistic treatments. Trials indicate such remedies include burdock, natrium phosphate and turmeric extract but I haven’t seen the results of the clinical trials yet and consequently cannot recommend their use. As and when the results come in I will update the hub.
Cats toxic reaction to lilies and certain foods
- Cats toxic reaction to Lily pollen, Poinsettias, Onion and Garlic and Raisins and Chocolate
Lilies and lily pollen is deadly to cats, but so is onion, garlic and possibly raisins and chcolate. Poinsettias on the other hand are primarly just an irritant.
Bronchitis in cats
- Bronchitis Acute and Chronic - both in humans, cats and dogs.
Acute and chronic bronchitis responds well to treatment with essential oils. This helps relieve dry cough and expel mucus. In addition there are herbal remedies that can help
© 2012 Peter Geekie