Peppermint is a hybrid of the spearmint and the watermint. It can be found out in the wilderness when its parents exist in close proximity to one another. However, its numbers are limited under such circumstances because it tends to be sterile. Instead, peppermint is very popular with humans. Thanks to that, it was once indigenous to Europe and the Middle East but has since spread throughout the rest of the world. Still, it is interesting to note that there is more peppermint produced in Morocco than the rest of the world put together, seeing as how said country was responsible for 92 percent of total world production in 2014. In any case, a wide range of people use peppermint for a wide range of purposes. To name an example, it sees a lot of use for flavoring teas, candies, and other products. Similarly, its essential oil contains 40.7 percent menthol and 23.4 percent menthone, meaning that it is a useful source of both of those substances. On top of these, peppermint is one of the plants that see use in home remedies, though interested individuals should know that more research into its properties is necessary.
Is Peppermint Oil Safe for Cats?
In any case, since peppermint oil sees so much use by humans, some cat owners might be curious whether it can be used by their cats as well. Unfortunately, the answer is a very simple “No.” For starters, a cat has a much more sensitive nose than a human. As a result, it should come as no surprise to learn that cats are much more impacted by peppermint oil than humans, so much so that most cats are less than enthused by the smell. Even worse, cats can actually develop serious health issues by just breathing in the smell of peppermint oil. For example, they could start experiencing breathing problems as well as a faster heartbeat. Similarly, they could get aspiration pneumonia, which can happen when a living being inhales either food or some other substance into their lungs. Suffice to say that all of these issues are very bad.
On top of this, cats might swallow peppermint oil, which can cause even more complications. If they are lucky, they will get off with just some gastrointestinal distress. If they are unlucky, they might suffer damage to their liver and their nervous system. This is because peppermint oil contains toxins called phenols, which are particularly bad for cats because they don’t have the enzymes needed to eliminate them. As for how cats can swallow peppermint oil even when they aren’t being fed the stuff, well, the gist of it is that spraying peppermint can get it onto their fur. Since cats use their tongue to groom themselves, this means that cats can wind up swallowing the substance. Indeed, if they dislike the smell, they might groom themselves more than usual to get rid of it, thus causing them to swallow even more of the substance. For that matter, it should be mentioned that cats have a sensitive skin. Thanks to that, it is possible that the peppermint oil will be able to make its way to their bloodstream through their skin upon topical exposure. Something that won’t be pleasant to say the least.
There are a number of symptoms that interested individuals might want to keep a watchful eye out for if they think that their cat has been exposed to peppermint oil. Examples but are not limited to drooling, breathing problems, coughing, sneezing, lethargy, tremors, either a fever or low body temperature, and a lack of responsiveness. Getting the cat away from the peppermint oil should be the first stupid. After which, interested individuals might want to get into contact with their veterinarian for a medical professional’s opinion. Failing that, there are pet poison helplines out there, so make a phone call. That might sound excessive. However, it is possible for a cat to die from exposure to peppermint oil, meaning that such seriousness is warranted.
Don’t Make Assumptions
It is never a good idea to assume that a cat will be fine when exposed to a particular essential oil. Peppermint oil is far from being the only essential oil that can cause serious medical problems for cats upon exposure. On top of that, the lack of regulation means that it can be hard to tell how much essential oil has been used in a particular product, which is important because something that is fine in smaller concentrations might not be so fine in larger concentrations. As such, interested individuals should err on the side of caution when it comes to essential oils. If they aren’t sure that it will be fine for their pet, they should avoid its use for their pet.
Keep Essential Oils Out of Reach
Cat owners can use essential oils for themselves. However, if they do, they should make sure that those essential oils have been properly stored, meaning that they should be inaccessible to their cats. Yes, cats can find a lot of them to be unpleasant. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee of that, meaning that interested individuals can’t just count on their cats to stay away based on their instincts. Instead, thoroughly securing their essential oils is the best way to prevent their cats from getting into the stuff.
Use Essential Oils in Rooms that Are Off-Limits to Cats
Speaking of which, cat owners might want to restrict their use of essential oils to rooms that are off-limits to cats. As mentioned earlier, cats can experience complications by either breathing them or swallowing them upon licking themselves. Due to that, it is a bad idea to use essential oils in rooms where cats spend a lot of time in, particularly if they groom themselves there.
Some Cats Are Extra-Sensitive
Be warned that some cats are more sensitive to essential oils than others. For instance, if they already have a breathing problem of some kind, their reaction to something problematic for them can be particularly bad.