So, It Turns Out I Was Causing Our Cat to Have Seizures. You Might Be Doing This Same Thing.

A couple of months or so ago our cat started having seizures.  She was almost 13 years old.  When I started googling it, I was able to put together that just before she started having seizures she had thrown up a few times randomly.   Not the hair ball throw up, but undigested food suddenly throw up.  She had never done this before.

We went to the vet who confirmed that what we were seeing was seizures.

A friend whose dog  has seizures said getting too hot can trigger one for her Phoebe.  She also seems to be more vulnerable to having one in a higher stress situation like a new dog groomer or boarding at a new place.

Our vet said most of the time in cats there doesn’t seem to be a particular reason, as far as an event setting them off.  I had recently been squirting her with a water bottle when I would see her on the kitchen table and wanted to be sure that wasn’t likely to cause her to have a seizure by startling and upsetting her.

I never dreamed that diffusing citrus essential oils was the cause of her seizures.

I had used some lavender on my dog’s ears before during a storm because I had heard that could help with the anxiety.  In the research I did, it did say citrus oils were dangerous for cats, that you shouldn’t ever put citrus oils on them or touch them after handling the oils without washing your hands.  I didn’t read anything that made me feel sure that I couldn’t diffuse the oils.  I did pay attention when I first started diffusing them, but she didn’t seem to have a problem right away so I forgot about it.

Our vet prescribed Valium for the seizures.  We started on the lowest dose and when she continued to have seizures we increased the dosage.  Older cats are lazy anyway, but she was being pretty sedated.   She’s a really persnickety cat, so we liked her more mellow medicated personality better 🙂

One day it just randomly popped in my head to question could it be the essential oils?

So I asked my friend google again and this time it came up looking a little more certain (in one person’s opinion) that diffusing them could be enough exposure to be dangerous.  I told Jay what I was thinking and I stopped diffusing any citrus oils.  We decided to start lowering her Valium dose and see what happened.  She was taking enough that it probably wasn’t safe to just stop it cold turkey.

We got her medicine dosage down to where she was not taking any in the morning.  No seizures.  We continued the night time dose and then began to lower it.  She’s outside some, and sometimes even inside we wouldn’t always see her when she would have a seizure.  Most of the time when she had a seizure she would pee, so we watched for any suspicious wet spots as well as catching her having a seizure.

It’s been more than a week now that she hasn’t had any medicine and no seizures.  She had been having seizures at one point more than one a day or at least daily.

I feel confident the culprit was the essential oils.  This makes me REALLY sad because I LOVE to diffuse citrus oils.  They’re my favorite and do a good job of making the house not smell doggy or stale.  I miss them.  I was feeling pretty irritated about it honestly, because without Valium, this cat isn’t all that sweet.

We decided to keep one of the 5 kittens Jay rescued. You can find that story here.  I knew that Jay would want one and Evan kept nagging me that it wasn’t right of me to not let Jay keep one of them.  They are all so sweet and I have gotten so fond of all of them. They all have homes when they get just a bit older, Hallelejah!

Jay loves Buddy, that’s his name.  It fits him.  He’s Jay’s little Buddy.  And Buddy is sweet.  So that helps me be a little less resentful about giving up diffusing citrus oils.  I still have a lot of them and want to find other ways to use them that won’t cause them harm.  Maybe cleaning sprays?


This is sweet little Buddy

Next time we visit our vet I will mention it so he can warn other cat owners about the danger of diffusing citrus oils.

It’s a beautiful day in South Alabama.  I’m typing this with coffee beside me under the shade of an umbrella on the pool deck.  The pool is getting bluer and no longer swampy green.  It’s almost summer and most of the summer is a slower pace.  Yippee!

Hold on, y’all.  The spring is crazy busy but summer’s comin’.

Hope your day is beautiful.

Update:  It’s been several months since I originally wrote this post.  We didn’t see any for a while, but Fluffy has continued to have seizures.  They are less frequent and less severe, but she is still having some.  I still feel confident it was the essential oils and that she has permanent neurological damage.

Here are a couple of links for further reading about cats and the danger of essential oils at The Spruce, and Meow Life Style.  

Fluffy spends a good big of time outside, in great part because she is an old lady and finds our young kitten very annoying and prefers to stay away from him.  He wants to play and she wants no part of him. That makes tracking her seizures complicated.

Because the seizures don’t seem as frequent or severe, at this time we haven’t started her back on medication.  The dose she required kept hers so sedated.

I feel terrible that something I did has caused this.  If you have a cat and use essential oils, do some research to be sure you don’t cause harm to your cat.