Is essential oil "pillow mist" safe for cats?
September 22, 2019 11:32 AM   Subscribe

I've been gifted a bottle of "pillow mist" containing several essential oils. I have pet cats who like to sleep with me on my pillow. The pillow mist contains lavender, bergamot, mandarin, sweet orange, and geranium essential oils. Are any of these poisonous to cats? Is this stuff safe to use without hurting them?
posted by talitha_kumi to Pets & Animals (8 answers total)
I wouldn't use them but they probably won't hurt your cats unless they get the bottle and drink it. Geranium can be slightly harmful to cats and in essential oil form I imagine it's much more potent, and most cats hate citrus and will avoid it. Lavender should be okay but again, essential oils are a lot stronger than people think they are and can be harmful especially to folks with respiratory challenges. I would be surprised if your cats would join you on your pillow if you used this mist. It might be nice to use in a guest bedroom where you'd like to keep your cats away and the linens smelling pleasant for folks with a cat allergy, or maybe in your closet to freshen up clothes before you wear them out.
posted by Mizu at 11:44 AM on September 22, 2019

All of the sites I can find about essential oils and cats warn against, because they are potentially poisonous. There seems to be no disagreement about whether or not there's a risk, just where the line is. Some sites warn strongly about diffusers, and others say it's probably okay if the cat is not confined near the diffuser.

I can't find anything about geranium oil, but it seems Mizu have found info that it's poisonous to cats; I would cross that off your list of safe oils. Citrus oils are also poisonous to cats. Given that you would spraying them onto a surface where your cats like to sleep, you're talking about getting these oils onto their fur and skin, which they'll then lick off. That's worse than a diffuser. Every site seems to think that even these small amounts are potentially toxic.

There are some sites that say lavender is safe, but I'm personally wary, because essential oils are very concentrated.

I would not use this.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 11:53 AM on September 22, 2019 [5 favorites]

Here is a site that talks about a lack of good data on essential oil toxicity in cats. Note that it has a longer list of potentially toxic or known to be toxic oils, and it does include lavender.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 11:55 AM on September 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

Cat's don't like citrus scents (bergamot, mandarin).
posted by dum spiro spero at 12:24 PM on September 22, 2019

You should verify whether the mist contains oils or is a hydrosol. Hydrosols contain only the water soluble components of the distilled plant material and are safe to use on your face so they might not pose any danger to your cats.
posted by Conrad-Casserole at 1:42 PM on September 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

Citrus is generally used to deter cats from using people’s gardens as a litter box so I’ll be surprised if they want to go near your pillow.
posted by Jubey at 4:56 PM on September 22, 2019

I wouldn't even use that on a pillow for humans to sleep on, many of those oils are skin irritants, especially around the eyes.
posted by poffin boffin at 5:53 PM on September 22, 2019 [6 favorites]

Anecdata: I believe I have this exact pillow spray and I have not had any issues with irritation, facial or respiratory, and I'm pretty sensitive to both. AND I tend to douse the pillow with it (probably overly so) because I love the smell that much.

While I don't have a cat and am not an expert on toxicity, I can tell you if you have the same bottle as I, only a little comes out in each spray (it's a very fine mist) and one to two sprays is enough to really refresh the room and pillow.

Might be worth trying it out on a lazy weekend morning, spraying it on the pillow when the cat's not directly on it, before dismissing it outright.
posted by seemoorglass at 1:43 PM on September 23, 2019

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