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Is Frankincense Oil Safe for Cats?

Disclaimer - The information provided in this blog, including any linked materials herein, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. For accurate and personalized recommendations, please consult with your specialists.


Essential oils have gained popularity for their therapeutic benefits in humans, but their use in pets, particularly cats, raises concerns. One such oil is frankincense oil, derived from the resin of the frankincense tree (Boswellia). While it has been used for centuries in traditional medicine for its various health benefits, it is crucial to understand whether it is safe for cats. This article will explore the safety of frankincense oil for cats, potential benefits, risks, and precautions necessary for pet owners.

Understanding Frankincense Oil

Frankincense oil is an essential oil extracted from the resin of the Boswellia tree, commonly found in regions of Africa and the Middle East. It has been used in traditional medicine for its anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and therapeutic properties. The oil is often used for aromatherapy, skin treatments, and as a natural remedy for various ailments in humans.

The Safety of Frankincense Oil for Cats

1. General Safety

When it comes to using essential oils on pets, cats are particularly sensitive due to their unique liver metabolism, which makes them less efficient at processing certain compounds found in essential oils. This sensitivity raises the question of whether frankincense oil is safe for cats.

2. Toxicity Concerns

While frankincense oil is generally considered non-toxic to humans and even dogs, it can be toxic to cats if not used properly. The potential toxicity of essential oils to cats stems from their inability to metabolize certain compounds efficiently. Symptoms of toxicity in cats can include vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, and in severe cases, seizures.

3. Dilution and Application

To ensure the safe use of frankincense oil on cats, it is essential to dilute the oil properly. A general guideline is to use one drop per 100 drops of carrier oil (such as coconut oil). This dilution minimizes the risk of adverse reactions when applied topically. Avoid direct application to the skin or ingestion, and always consult a veterinarian before using any essential oil on your pet.

Some studies have explored the potential benefits and risks of frankincense oil. Research suggests that the anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties of frankincense oil can be beneficial for pets when used appropriately.

Veterinarians and experts in veterinary medicine caution against the use of essential oils on pets without proper guidance. They emphasize the importance of consulting a veterinarian and using oils with caution.

Benefits of Frankincense Oil for Cats

1. Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Frankincense oil possesses anti-inflammatory properties, which can be beneficial for cats suffering from arthritis or other inflammatory conditions. When used appropriately, it can help reduce inflammation and provide relief from pain.

2. Promotes General Well-Being in Cats

Frankincense oil can contribute to the overall well-being of cats by creating a calming and stress-free environment. When appropriately diluted and diffused, it can help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation in your feline friend. This is particularly useful in multi-cat households or during stressful events like moving or introducing a new pet. The soothing properties of frankincense oil can support your cat's emotional health, helping to maintain a calm and balanced demeanor.

3. Immune System Support

The oil's therapeutic properties can also support the immune system. It can help boost a cat's immune response, aiding in the fight against infections and promoting overall health.

4. Good Skin Health in Cats

Frankincense oil is beneficial for maintaining your cat's skin health. When diluted and applied topically, it can help soothe irritated skin and reduce inflammation. Its antiseptic properties can assist in preventing and treating minor skin infections, while its regenerative qualities support the healing of wounds and the reduction of scars. Regular, careful use of diluted frankincense oil can contribute to healthier, more resilient skin for your cat, promoting overall skin health and comfort.

5. Stress and Anxiety Relief

Frankincense oil is known for its calming effects on the nervous system, which can help reduce stress and anxiety in cats. Diffusing a small amount of diluted oil in the air can create a soothing environment for your pet.

Risks and Precautions

Potential Risks

Despite its potential benefits, there are several risks associated with using frankincense oil on cats. Improper use or high concentrations can lead to severe health issues. It is crucial to monitor your cat for any signs of adverse reactions, such as drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, or behavioral changes.

Precautions to Take

To mitigate risks, follow these precautions:

  1. Consult a Veterinarian: When considering essential oils for pets, always consult with a veterinarian to ensure their safety and effectiveness. 
  2. Proper Dilution: Use one drop per 100 drops of carrier oil to dilute the frankincense oil.
  3. Avoid Direct Contact: Do not apply the oil directly to your cat's skin or allow them to ingest it. If you choose to apply oils topically, petting along the spine with a diluted mixture can help to distribute the oil evenly and safely.
  4. Monitor for Symptoms: Watch for any signs of adverse reactions and seek veterinary attention if they occur.
  5. Use in Moderation: Limit the use of frankincense oil and avoid prolonged exposure. Before using any essential oil, identify the area of concern and choose the appropriate oil that targets that specific issue.

Application Methods

Topical Application

When using frankincense oil topically, ensure it is properly diluted. Apply a small amount to the paw pads or along the spine, avoiding the face and areas where the cat can easily lick it off.


Diffusing frankincense oil can help create a calming environment for your cat. Use a diffuser to disperse a small amount of diluted oil into the air. Ensure the room is well-ventilated, and your cat can leave the area if they choose.

Integrative Treatments

Frankincense oil can be used as part of an integrative treatment plan for conditions like arthritis or anxiety. Work with your veterinarian to develop a comprehensive plan that includes essential oils, diet, and other treatments.

Frankincense Oil Compared to Other Oils for Cats

1. Lavender Oil

Lavender oil is another essential oil known for its calming properties. Like frankincense oil, it must be diluted properly before use on cats. Both oils can help reduce stress and promote relaxation.

2. Myrrh

Myrrh oil, derived from the resin of the myrrh tree, has antimicrobial properties and can be used for similar purposes as frankincense oil. However, it also requires proper dilution and caution when used on cats.

3. Oregano Oil

Oregano oil has potent antimicrobial properties but is generally considered too strong for use on cats. It is more suitable for dogs or humans when properly diluted.

Signs of Essential Oil Toxicity in Cats

While some essential oils, like frankincense, can be safe for cats when used correctly, it's crucial to recognize the signs of toxicity. Cats are particularly sensitive to essential oils due to their unique liver metabolism, which lacks certain enzymes needed to process these compounds.

If your cat exhibits any of the following symptoms after exposure to essential oils, it’s essential to seek veterinary attention immediately:

1. Drooling and Pawing at the Mouth

Excessive drooling and pawing at the mouth can be early signs of essential oil toxicity. This reaction may occur if your cat ingests oil directly or licks its fur after topical application.

2. Vomiting

Vomiting is a common sign of toxicity and can indicate that your cat has ingested or inhaled too much essential oil. Repeated vomiting can lead to dehydration and other complications.

3. Diarrhea

Ingesting essential oils can upset your cat’s digestive system, leading to diarrhea. Persistent diarrhea can be harmful and requires veterinary care.

4. Difficulty Breathing

Essential oils can cause respiratory distress if inhaled in high concentrations. Signs include coughing, wheezing, labored breathing, and nasal discharge.

5. Lethargy and Weakness

A cat exposed to toxic levels of essential oils may become unusually lethargic or weak. This behavior change can be a response to the toxic effects on their nervous system.

6. Uncoordinated Movements (Ataxia)

Toxicity can affect your cat’s nervous system, leading to uncoordinated movements or difficulty walking.

7. Tremors or Seizures

Severe toxicity can result in tremors or seizures, indicating significant neurological distress. This is an emergency situation requiring immediate veterinary intervention.

8. Redness or Burns on the Skin

Direct contact with undiluted essential oils can cause skin irritation or burns. Redness, swelling, or blistering on the skin are signs of chemical burns from essential oils.

9. Changes in Behavior

Behavioral changes, such as hiding, aggression, or increased vocalization, can also be indicative of essential oil toxicity.

Immediate Actions to Take

If you suspect your cat has been exposed to a toxic level of essential oil, take the following steps:

1. Remove Access to the Oil

Immediately remove your cat from the area where the oil was used or spilled to prevent further exposure.

2. Clean the Affected Area

If the oil is on your cat's fur or skin, gently wash the area with mild soap and water to remove the oil. Avoid using harsh chemicals or additional essential oils.

3. Ventilate the Area

Increase ventilation in the room by opening windows and using fans to disperse any remaining essential oil vapors.

4. Seek Veterinary Care

Contact your veterinarian or an emergency veterinary clinic immediately. Provide details about the type and amount of essential oil your cat was exposed to.


Frankincense oil is derived from the plant Boswellia, which is known for its numerous therapeutic properties. Essential oils can be a great alternative to synthetic treatments, for your pets, but they must be used responsibly and under guidance. The impact of essential oils on pets can vary greatly, so it's important to start with small amounts and observe any changes. Avoid using essential oils internally for cats unless directed by a veterinarian, as it can pose significant health risks. 

There is always the possibility of an allergic reaction or sensitivity, so watch for any signs of distress. Essential oils can support the digestive tract when used correctly, but improper use can lead to severe issues. Ensure the source of your essential oils is reputable and provides pure, high-quality products. 

Cats have a heightened sense of scent, making them more sensitive to the strong aromas of essential oils. Before using any essential oil, discover if it is safe for your specific pet by doing thorough research or consulting a vet.

So, to conclude, it can be said that, while frankincense oil may offer potential health benefits for cats, including supporting their digestive tract and promoting good healthy skin, it must be used with extreme caution. Always ensure that any essential oils used are properly diluted and consult a veterinarian before introducing them to your pet's routine. Monitor your cat closely for any signs of essential oil toxicity, such as drooling, vomiting, or lethargy. By using essential oils responsibly and understanding their impact, you can safely explore the possibilities of incorporating these natural remedies into your pet's care.

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