Friday, March 9, 2012

Natural Remedies for Felines — Do Cats Like Peppermint?

Many people use peppermint, both the plant and the oil, to calm or descent their cats. This makes a certain amount of sense because peppermint is in the same family as catnip. Do cats like peppermint? Yes, many cats, though certainly not all, are attracted to the scent of peppermint. However, peppermint and catnip are not interchangeable, and care should be taken when administering any peppermint product to a cat.

The Dangers of Peppermint in Cats

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), cats are much more sensitive to peppermint products than most other pets. Peppermint leaves, if ingested, could potentially cause your cat an upset stomach. Peppermint extract can create a burning sensation if it comes in direct contact with the skin.

Peppermint oil, however, is especially dangerous. If swallowed, peppermint oil can cause gastrointestinal upset, a suppression of the central nervous system, and even liver damage. Some peppermint oils contain a derivative of aspirin, which is highly toxic to cats. Peppermint oils should not be used around cats at any time.

The Safe Use of Peppermint with Cats

One of the problems with using any aromatherapy product, such as peppermint or cinnamon, with cats is that felines have a heightened sense of smell. This makes them more sensitive to scented products in the first place. If you do choose to use peppermint around your cats, make sure you use only a small amount. Your cats will smell it even if you can’t.

If your cat truly adores peppermint and you’d like to make use of it, there are safe ways to do so. You can take peppermint leaves and encase them in fabric, much like a catnip toy. You can then give it to your cats as long as you supervise them carefully. You don’t want your cat to eat any of the plant material. These toys will calm many cats, though some may have the opposite reaction.

Peppermint extract can also be used if properly diluted. Use approximately one-quarter cup of a carrier oil such as jojoba or olive and a few drops of peppermint extract. This mixture can be used to deodorize a cat, but be very careful to keep it away from any mucus membranes. You’ll only need the smallest amount of your mixture, and only apply it to the fur. If you can smell peppermint on the cat from three feet away, then you’ve used too much for the comfort of your cat.

You can also use this mixture when introducing a new cat into your household. Simply place a few drops on each cat and the introductions will usually be much smoother. This also works when bringing one cat home from an extended stay at the veterinarian’s office.

Because it is potentially toxic, many veterinarians will recommend against using peppermint products around cats. It is very important that no plant material, oil, or extract is ingested by your cats as they may become ill. If you do choose to use peppermint around your cats, do so with caution. It should also be noted that not all felines like peppermint. If your cat seems bothered by peppermint, you should immediately discontinue use.

So, do cats like peppermint? Some do, which pet owners can use to their benefit!

18 comments:

  1. Just found this because my cat started going nuts when I tried a new brand of Peppermint tea... He reacted as though it were catnip, at least for a little while- he must have rubbed his face against it for a full three minutes. He even went crazy for the scent left over on the paper wrapper. It's organic tea- maybe it's really strong! Thanks for the cautions! :)

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  2. I sprayed a solution around my room that contains: 5 drops of peppermint oil, 5oz of water and a squirt of dawn soap and shook it all up, around my entire room as a natural spider repellent. I have a cat, will he be ok? He's pretty old and there isn't much peppermint oil... But I'm just asking to be safe.

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    1. That small amount of peppermint oil should be safe for your feline friend. Just make sure he doesn't walk where you sprayed until the area has dried and the cat should be just fine.

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  3. I'm so glad you asked about the pepermint spider repellant I was reading this and getting worried as I have just brought pepermint oil to spray on spiders and was getting worried about my cats. How much would u say is a safe amount of pepermint to add to the water and not harm my cats?

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    1. When diluting the oil, 5 to 7 drops per cup of water will be safe enough for kitty. Make sure the area dries before you let the cat walk there and your cat should be safe.

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  4. I discovered my cat likes peppermint when I found him upside down in my purse. When he came out he had a piece of peppermint chewing gum in his mouth. He would not give it up.

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    1. My cat, too, goes wild for mint anything. She actually got mad and bit me when I didn 't surrender the piece of gum to her! Glad I checked up on the affects on cats before she gets into anything toxic.

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  5. I also heard about spiders hating peppermint, and as I sleep in an attic I immediately ordered peppermint essential oil to burn. The reson I googled how peppermint affects cats is because every night when i burn it, he goes crazy. hes not usually v ery affectionate but when i burn the peppermint oil he turns into a cuddle bug and rolls around like nuts if i stop scratching his head. I'm a little confused as to weather or not my burning peppermint oil can harm him. i know he cant ingest it because the thing u burn it in is too thin at the top for him to get his face in, so is it ok to keep burning it?

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    1. As long as you're sure he can't in any way ingest the substance, you should be all right. But make sure there is no way for him to get to it (including sticking his paw in).

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  6. I read that peppermint oil is a good way to eliminate mice. So I ordered some thinking it would be much safer for my cat than poisons, now I'm scared to use it. She is not doing anything to get rid of the mouse. Is there anyway to safely use this around her to get rid of the mice?

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    1. Once you apply the oil to your desired locations, make sure it dries completely before you allow your cat access to that area. Peppermint oil can be toxic to kitty, but if it's completely dry it presents less of a hazard. But do NOT allow kitty to come into contact with the undiluted oil before it's dry. Peppermint oil can be a useful repellent for rodents, but use it carefully around kitty.

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  7. I just bought some peppermint oil for a mice repellent. I put 3 to 4 drops on a cotton ball and put it in our closed closets and behind kitchen appliances. The aroma is lovely and my house smells like a huge candy cane.LOL Will the aroma hurt kitty's lungs if she lays in front of the door?
    Thank you:)

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    1. As long as your cat isn't able to eat the cotton balls, she should be safe enough.

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  8. Weeks ago I made the same repellent above (water, soap & 4 drops of peppermint oil) and put it in a spray bottle for ants to use in an area that the cat can't get to. Just now he was chewing on the nozzle. I, forgetting what was in there, distractedly reached down to get it and as I did depressed the trigger so he got a small squirt straight into his mouth/throat. As soon a I did it I remembered what was in it and now I'm freaking out. Is this an emergency vet visit or a watch and carefully watch & wait situation? FYI, it was Herb Pharm Peppermint Spirits if that makes any difference. Thank you.

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    1. It sounds like he didn't get much in his mouth. I would treat this as a wait and wait scenario. If your kitty becomes lethargic or seems ill, take him to the vet. Otherwise, keep an eye on him.

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    2. Thanks for your reply! I have been watching & waiting and, 8.5 hours later, he's behaving normally. The only difference being is he's probably sick of me checking on him obsessively!! I did some further reading and I'm thinking I might give him some Milk Thistle, as a liver detox, for a short while. May change my mind but from what I've gleaned thus far if it doesn't help at least it won't cause harm. Thanks again! (p.s. the homemade ant repellent didn't even work so anyone reading this, it's not worth it!)

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  9. I just got my first cat last weekend. I've always been a dog person. I found a small tick on his head this afternoon. With our dogs, we will put a drop of peppermint oil on the tick to kill it and it will usually fall right out, no problems. So I did the same thing to kitty, not thinking it could potentially be toxic. After about 5 minutes, he started freaking out! I rubbed coconut oil on it to try to neutralize the peppermint, then gave him a warm bath, using a little bit of mild soap on the spot. He is still meowing incessantly, but has calmed down. How badly have I harmed him? I do not live in an area with easy access to a vet (I live in a 3rd world country). Is there anything I can do to counteract the effect of the peppermint oil?

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    1. Some cats are very sensitive to peppermint oil; sounds like yours certainly is. You did the right thing by bathing the area. If it's still bothering him, treat the area like you would a burn. You haven't done any lasting damage, but kitty may be uncomfortable for a while.

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