Skip to main content

Important Message From a Dear Friend

Related News


  1. Sandra

    Makes me wonder… Does this translate to ferrets, too? Biologically they’re quite similar to cats, specifically in the fact that they’re both obligate carnivores. Does that mean that ferrets are also unable to break down essential oils like cats?

    Mostly curious. 🙂

    Thank you!

    1. Jeri

      Not essential oils across the board (see my comment). Aromatherapy is perfume grade oil – a whole different scenario.

  2. Kazuko Tanabe DVM

    You are right, Sandra.
    Ferrets cannot detoxify essential oil components.
    However, they have normal genes.
    It has been reported that only their liver glucuronidation ability is
    very weak, especially in female ferrets.
    We have so far experienced several fatal cases in females.
    Please take care not to use essential oils to your animals.

    Because we cannot go about our daily life scent free,
    try to keep your ferrets from any scented products.

    1. Sandra

      Thank you so much Dr. Tanabe for answering my question. I do not currently own a ferret, but I have in the past and I might again the future have some. They’re lovely, playful, and quite intelligent creatures.

      I do, however, live with a dog. A 7yr old Dachshund named Moco who has isolation distress (mild form of separation anxiety). I’ve not used essential oils or aromatherapy for him, but I know there are so many products like that out there marketed to aid or cure separation anxiety or other anxious behaviors that are made from essential oils. So I am particularly interested in this topic.

      Thank you again!

  3. Jeri

    Dr. Melissa Shelton does wonderful things with essential oils — yes, cats as well. She has documented her amazing successes and you can find out more on one of her sites: or Basically, the key is the GRADE of the oil — the purity. It must be medical or therapeutic grade. Agreed that “aromatherapy” is not what we are talking about here, but essential oils. Just wanted to clarify that for those thinking the two are identical. Essential oils can heal. Aromatherapy is just perfume.

  4. Casey

    And yet there are numerous products out there for cats to repel fleas and ticks containing essential oils! And they are marketed as “safe” because they’re “natural”!

    Why can’t these things be yanked from the store shelves are they are obviously VERY dangerous to cats?

  5. Kazuko Tanabe DVM

    Please let me know how you can differentiate therapeutic grade essential oils from adulterated ones? We have been analyzing every oil or hydrosol (floral water) we use for animals in university laboratories here. All essential oil companies say they handle genuine 100% natural oils. Our analyzing results are deplorable.

    The majority of information on Aromatherapy is misleading all over the world. There are so many behind the scene facts in Aromatherapy World just like that of the Pet Food Industry. Little aromatherapists know about it. Few vets know about it. Vets should research into the genetical factors in beloved feline species and true carnivores.

    1. Jeri

      Dr. Tanabe, this is a conversation you really need to have with Dr. Shelton. I know she has done research and had great success with oils on animals in her work. She does not take it lightly, nor is she irresponsible. it would be a shame to paint all oils with the same brush. I do not represent her or work for her, but clearly the two of you are not on the same page. If you want to know she differentiates adulterated oils from therapeutic grade, you will need to ask her. I’m sure she could tell you.

      1. Kazuko Tanabe DVM

        I am sorry, Jeri. We can’t get in the same arena, because we have different belief about essential oils.
        Vets who uses aroma products to cats probably doesn’t know essential oils are Xenobiotics such as poison or drug that should be eliminated out of our bodies as soon as possible. There are vets who use essential oils for animals here, too. They wouldn’t dream that the fatal adverse events they experience are caused by usage of the oils believing with confidence that they are therapeutic. I once attended a conference on aromatherapy for companion animals, and I remember the horror of multiple fatal incidents in feline species. So, I wrote articles in academic Japanese veterinary journals, to warn against indiscriminate aromatherapy for companion animals.
        Because we can not demonstrate the lethal dosage of essential oils in cats, our warning may be taken as lacking in sufficient explanation. I am talking about risks of aromatherapy in genetically handicapped feline species. As you may know, the Animal Poison Center US reports toxicosis of an EO in detail. 0.1mL of an EO corresponds approximately only 2 to 3 drops of the oil. This volume can cause adverse reactions. I know many cats vomit just being exposed to incense smoke, reacting to the fragrance in the incense. No one knows when the toxic symptoms begin. That is our major concern.
        Genuine oils? Adulterated oils? They don’t matter. Both of them are organic chemicals that can be toxic to cats all of a sudden.
        I do hope I could make myself understood.

        1. Juno's mom

          I’m surprised hat you aren’t interested in consulting with Dr. Shelton. There is a multitude of anecdotal data available supporting the successful use of certain oils with cats. This is a very specific science much like homeopathy, not to be used by the layperson without professional guidance certainly, but should not be completely discounted.

          1. Dr. Patricia Jordan

            There is a BIG problem with anecdotal reports and “unscientific” poorly designed so call “science” performed by a licensed vet who was a huge supporter and pandered YL essential oils….until she didn’t. There are many flase reports out there about essential oils. You just can’t make open blanket statements for safety when they are clearly not. Many reports have come back about damage to cats with use of essential oils. You can think of them as “safe” until you run into the cases of deaths or serious reactions. Susun Weed the Wise Women Herbalist is of the school that essential oils are not at all safe and are concentrated “poisons”. She doesn’t reccomend humans take essential oils without regarding them as toxic-because they are. This is not a rap against essential oils, it is a rap against the use of them without TRUTH in what they are and in what they can do, not only in cats, or ferrets but in humans, in children and in anyone with compromised system. I applaud Dr. Tanabe for speaking out on something that he has found true need to alert the public about. I cover essential oil use in the Natural Medicines for Animals course in Asheville, NC. Leading aromatherapist with text on essential oils is also against the use of essential oils in animals and children. We need to heed the knowledge and experience of these experts also. I am sure you will find the veterinarians whom have had experience, decades of experience viewing the results of “essential oil” use will have cause for pause-just like the expert aromatherapist and master herbalists. Everyone one of these experts has at the root of their concern the health and wellbeing of the people and animals. They also are not pandering essential oils-conflict of interest does make a difference.

    2. Kelley

      Dr. Tanabe, thank you for your generous participation in the TAPF. Do you have any research done on Essential Oils from Abundant at 888-718-3068? I don’t have cats. The Peace & Calming elixir was used twice on my very anxious 15 yr. miniature poodle especially during non-anesthesia dental maintenance cleanings and it really seemed to help. So I purchased more for home use. The vet is western trained and practices eastern methods as well. But I will stop all use of these oils until I understand more about the risks. Thank you again for helping to protect our pets.

    3. Dr. Patricia Jordan

      Hello Dr. Tanabe, you are correct, I support your findings and am quite disturbed on the amount of mis information about aromattherapy. I found a complete lack of properly designed research from oilyvet and papers explaining there is no such thing as Therapeutic Essential Oils…..except that it is a “trademark”. I too have run into many reports of deaths and mishaps in cats where essential oils are used. Thank you for having the courage to put the truth out there.

  6. Dianne

    “Therapeutic Grade” is simply a word tossed about by various oil mfgrs and sellers. Aromatherapy is NOT simply perfume. Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils by diffusion for the treatment of various health concerns. Essential oils were never intended to be rubbed on the skin , sprayed on the skin, or mixed with water and taken internally. Essential oils are very potent, complex chemical structures. The feline does not metabolize essential oils like a human or a dog. Do not apply or infuse/diffuse essential oils on or within a cat’s immediate surroundings. Dr. Tanabe is correct in her statements and research. Read by Paul Tesserand and Rodney Young. Multilevel marketers are making dangerous statements about essential oils that are not true or medically correct. Thank you.

  7. Kazuko Tanabe DVM

    I do know there are successful clinical aromatherapy cases in cats, because there are vets who use essential oils in their daily practice in Japan, too. However, the major concern is that the risks of aromatherapy are extremely high in domestic cats and other feline species. In the past, it was considered the gene for the most important metabolizing enzyme called UGT1A6, which takes the central role in metabolizing various xenobiotics like essential oil components in the second phase metabolization in the liver, was pseudo-gene. However, last year, in 2013, a pharmacologist had a chance to research into the analysis of the mRNA of this enzyme gene in various animal species, and found where the anomaly was. This gene mutation was recognized not only in domestic cats, but in all feline species, wild cats investigated. Because of this, cats cannot tolerate various drugs that other animal species can. As far as domestic cats are concerned, further abnormalities have been found in the first phase of liver metabolic enzymes as well. The enzyme CYP2C is also abnormal, and the activity of CYP3A, which is extremely important to detoxify various drugs, is also very weak. Therefore, it has been reported detoxification ability of various chemicals/drugs in feline species is 1/6 -1/10 of the ability in other animal species. These data show that cats are absolutely handicapped animal species. Nevertheless, would cat owners wish to use essential oils for their beloved cats? I myself think that cats successfully treated with essential oils were just lucky. No one knows what happens after the next treatment. Everyone has to make their own decisions on what they trust. The best I can tell you is I have studied this aromatherapy industry for many years, studied about DNA and Enzymes for more than 30 years – and have seen first hand the devastation the wrong use can cause – even from trained aromatherapists or medical professions.

  8. Peg

    Thank you and bless you Dr. Tanabe for all your hard work and for sharing this with all of us.

    This morning in my vet’s office, I witnessed the heartbreak that essential oils can bring to cat owners. The client found fleas, her cat is allowed to go out in the garden, and she purchased a product from the health food store designed to get rid of fleas “organically”. Tea tree oil.

    This 6 month old kitty was in acute complete renal failure and passed away shortly after arrival at the vet’s office. The owner was inconsolable, the vet was teary eyed, and those of us in the waiting room sat silently with tears streaming down our faces.

    In my hand was a print out of everything you had written about.
    When it was my turn to have my kitty checked, I handed your info to my vet who read it and asked her staff to make multiple copies to be sent home to all cat owners.

    It is not worth the risk.
    The poor owner of the deceased kitty kept sobbing that she “killed her cat”.

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      Thank you Peg for sharing this – made me tear up just reading it.

    2. Kazuko Tanabe DVM

      Thank you very much Peg for carrying my info in your hand, and providing it to your vet. Your decision at the site might avoid further feline victims.

      We have been working on essential oil companies, aromatherapy schools, and mass media, but it is very likely they refuse to hear our voice. The biggest aromatherapy organization in our country makes a condition to a lecturer not to mention about “Essential oils and Animals” in their classroom. This is probably they think such kind of info influences the sales of essential oils they sell to their students. Every aromatherapy organization has a division to sell their own essential oils.

      Peg, may I ask you a favor? If possible, would you please tell me personally the name of the animal hospital? I would like to make a contact to the vet to get precise information on this incident. Cat owners who are feeling guilty about these incidents are always reluctant to tell their story.

      One of the most popular EOs, the Tea Tree Oil has been reported to be central nerve neurotoxic chemical to small animals, therefore, I never use this oil in animals, even in dogs. One of the main components, 1,8-cineole is cytotoxic as well, and it has been revealed this chemical is metabolized with CYP3A4 which is the most important liver enzyme involved in metabolism of various drugs. This implicates that essential oils that contain 1,8-cineole have a strong potential to interact with various drugs in animals on medication.

      Because vets have few chances to research into this kind of information, and somewhat misleading information on aromatherapy has been prevailing around the world, it is next to impossible for us to correct those misleading information. I would like to have courage not to give up just like Susan.

      Peg, thank you so much for your posting.

  9. sheila b

    Can you tell me if neem oil is harmful also?

  10. Peg

    Sheila I am so glad you asked this question!

    I was wondering the same thing as I was reading about how neem mixed with coconut oil can rid dogs of many parasites.

    I know Dr. Tanabe would be the best one to ask especially about cats.

  11. sheila b

    My sister has been using neem spray for flea prevention for some time. I’ve been using neem protect shampoo on my cat for a few weeks. I have read over the years that it’s good for hot spots and the like to prevent infection. My cat has horrible allergies and scratches his poor ears until they bleed. He licks his belly too. I try to bathe him weekly because I don’t want him to get infected. Anyway, his skin issues are quite as bad since I took him off kibble a few months ago and changed his proteins, but they haven’t disappeared. Kind of wish this website had a forum to discuss various pet issues.

  12. Kazuko Tanabe DVM

    As regards Neem Oil, the major active component has been identified as Azadirachtin. Last year, it was scientifically reported that the neem oil caused encephalopathy in an elderly human male.

    Please read the information from Oregon State University about the Neem Oil.
    The symptoms in cats are described as follow:
    Feeling sluggish, excessive salivation, impaired movement, trembling, twitching, and convulsions.

    There are clearly the toxic manifestation of the central nerve system.
    There is no guarantee of safety of the oil in feline species.

    1. Peg

      Thank you Dr. Tanabe!!

Leave a Reply