peppermint vs. cats
March 9, 2010 2:46 PM   Subscribe

Cat emergency! How do I clean up peppermint essential oil?

I recently discovered ants in my bathroom. I read online that peppermint oil would drive them away, so I put a lot on my bathroom floor. I'd say about 3 or 4 tablespoons. I dipped a paper towel in water and scrubbed the oil all over the floor. After I did this I got back online and did some more research on peppermint oil and ants. I was hoping to find info that said one application would be enough. Instead I found info that said peppermint oil can cause neurological damage and even death in cats if inhaled! My cats didn't come in the bathroom while I was applying the peppermint, but they were right outside the door when I opened it. After reading the peppermint oil toxicity info, I locked them in the bedroom and opened the windows wide. I also called a vet who said to call back if they started throwing up. I called another who said he would call back after researching. It smells minty in here and I believe they must have inhaled the scent. I don't want to take any chances with their lives, so I'm considering putting them in the carriers and driving to a friend's house. But then what? 10 years ago (pre-cats) I used peppermint oil in a diffuser and my apartment smelled like peppermint for 6 months. This is on the floor so there's a chance I can scrub it away, but there's also a chance I've scrubbed it into the cracks between the tiles and places that are inaccessible. What's the best way to completely clean this up, and when will it be safe for my cats to come back into my tiny apartment? Also, if anyone has any personal or general info regarding peppermint oil and cats I'd really like to hear it.
posted by january to Pets & Animals (3 answers total)
I'm not sure what you read, but I'm reading the ASPCA website which says "If ingested, the peppermint plant and its oil could indeed potentially cause harm to your cat. Cats are especially sensitive to peppermint oil, and effects such as gastrointestinal upset, central nervous system depression and even liver damage could occur if ingested in significant quantities. Some peppermint oil formulations also contain aspirin derivatives, which could result in additional toxicity. Furthermore, if inhalation of the volatile oil were to occur, aspiration pneumonia may be possible. Based on this, we would not recommend using peppermint leaves or oil in areas where your cat is allowed access."

I'm pretty sure this is not applicable to peppermint fumes. I'm pretty sure this is what your vet was getting at. So, clean your floor normally with something with a similar scent and don't worry excessively about small amounts of oil in floor cracks.
posted by jessamyn at 2:54 PM on March 9, 2010

This thread has a few ancillary mentions of Mefites who have pets who used peppermint oil. While I wouldn't continue to use it, they mention their dog being okay and their cat getting high off it, respectively.
posted by WCityMike at 5:53 PM on March 9, 2010

I'd dump a bottle of rubbing alcohol on the floor, then wipe it up. Alcohol will cut the oil.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 12:52 AM on March 10, 2010

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